At this point, having a mobile game is practically a badge of honor for your franchise. This certainly seems to be the motivating factor for Blazblue Alternative: Dark War, the new mobile RPG published by Arc System Works featuring Blazblue characters.
Blazblue was one of the first fighting games I tried to get into seriously, thanks to its edgy 2000s anime aesthetic and amazing soundtrack. It’s one of the few games to still commit to 2D sprites, having a well animated feel despite the limitations of the medium. Naturally, I had expectations when they announced a mobile RPG, even if it wasn’t going to be the Blazblue-but-mobile experience that Skullsgirls had with its mobile port.
We should disclose the game is currently only available in Japan, with no word on an English release yet. Given our writing staff combined doesn’t know enough Japanese to outread a grade-schooler, don’t expect any commentary on the game’s story, either. With that out of the way, how does the game look? Read on and find out.
Looks Like Blazblue/Grand Order In Here
I’m in two minds on Dark War’s design. On one hand, the character sprites are fine, with newcomer Ciel looking like she could very well fit on a Blazblue character select screen. On the other, the actual in-game models are very much not fine, instead aping Fate/Grand Order’s more puppet-like art style.
Of course, it’s only natural that Ciel looks amazing. She’s essentially the Mashu of this game, even having a giant shield as a weapon. The other Bronze characters you’re given at the start of the game don’t look nearly as good, often legitimately looking like Fate rejects instead of the fighting game so stupidly edgy it has a character called The Bloodedge that’s somehow not the edgiest character in the game.
The problem is that art style is one of the best things Blazblue has going for it, so having the mobile game not incorporate the sprite styles is a bit of a downer. It also doesn’t help that the returning characters are naturally locked at higher rarities, so unless you spend money your early game is going to be a lot of time looking at characters you don’t recognize in an art style you don’t recognize, making you wonder if you’re actually playing a Blazblue game at all.
One thing I do have to commend the game on is its grimoire art, however. Grimoires are the gacha-able powerups you collect, similar to Craft Essences in Fate/GO. Since they’re literally just stat sticks you attach to your character to improve them, there’s a lot of fun art to be had with them.
But in the end though, the fact that I keep comparing this game to Fate/Grand Order is pretty damning that they really just wanted their own Fate clone, and Blazblue was the only franchise with a timeline messed up enough to allow for it without damaging the brand too much. ‘
That being said, the game does use music from Blazblue, one of its best features. In a sea of blandness, the battle music of this game is like a little hint of spice, and it might even carry you far through the game depending on your tastes.
Haven’t I seen This Gameplay Somewhere Before?
It should come as no surprise that the game literally plays like Fate/Grand Order. You have different types of moves, some being able to be chained into each other ultimately leading up to a big finisher.
The only real difference is that all the moves are named with a more Blazblue flare, such as the heavier of the atttacks being called Drives and the big finisher being called your Astral Heat, similar to the finishers from regular Blazblue.
I really like the game’s Overdrive mechanic, which lets you dramatically bypass the game’s action limit to do way more attacks. It rewards chaining moves, and lets you drastically rally your units for big damage.
There’s also the team composition end, with different units and grimoires having costs that you’ll have to factor in, as well as positions and elements. It’s pretty common for most mobile RPGs, since nothing frees you from your character bias like finding out your team needs a fire-type.
Thankfully, the game has an auto mode and a speed up mode, because you’re going to be doing a lot of grinding through the game’s story, especially if you want to grind more of the game’s premium gems to fund your gacha exploits.
I’m not penalizing this game for not being a fighting game, but eventually you do get bored of the generic RPG gameplay. Again, it’s the fact that the game is very clearly Blazblue logos taped over the FGO skeleton that makes it really hard to recommend, especially since if you’re talking to a gacha player there’s a good chance they already play FGO.
It’s just. Another game with busywork, like so many others. It has the attachment of a unique IP, but chooses not to do anything cool with it in favor of just aping one of the biggest titles out there right now.
Pull-It Dance II
Unsurprisingly, Blazblue Alternative Dark War has gacha elements. You can pull for Grimoires and characters, getting a mix of the two in every pull. We didn’t get far enough to see if there would be any guarantee features, but for the most part its as inoffensive as a gacha system can be,
The game gives you a 3% for SS characters (the highest rarity), with a 6% chance on 5-star Grimoires. You’ll need to uncap your Grimoires a grand total of six times to uncap it, using duplicates of the grimoire to get it there. The same applies to characters, who even get a little crown along with shards.
Personally, I’m not a fan of gacha games with a strict duplicate requirement. Getting your waifu should be a fun experience, the idea of pulling it off then realizing you need to do it two to three more times is kind of a buzzkill. But that’s the norm for these types of games, so I guess my opinion is in the minority.
10 pulls cost about 2000 of the game’s gems, where you get about 30 for 3-starring the game’s missions. There’s also side content and hard mode to help you gain more of the premium currency, though that requires some unlocking on your end to get to.
Again, we didn’t get too far into it, so we can’t tell you how F2P friendly the game would be. Judging by the fact Blazblue Alternative Dark War has chosen to base itself off of Fate though, I don’t fancy its chances of being the next free-to-play darling.
I like Blazblue. I don’t necessarily like gacha games. Unless you were a diehard stalwart of the two, I don’t think I could recommend Blazblue Alternative Dark War. The game’s just kind of there, not doing anything particularly bold or new. It’s just a Blazblue-flavored gacha game, and even the Blazblue flavor is fading.
Still, if you’re a fan of the FGO RPG system but for whatever reason avoiding the game, you’d probably like Dark War. Some of the characters are legitimately cool, and you can always refer to the Blazblue pantheon of characters if you wanted a glimpse at possible future additions. Normally I’d say something like “not every game needs to be a standout unique hit” but in Dark War’s case it would have been good if any of it stood out at all.
You can make gacha games based on fighting game IPs, Skullgirls did it pretty well, Heck, the gacha fighter has existed for quite a while now, with games like Power Rangers being so good they got console releases. Considering Dark War’s history of delays, it’s sad they didn’t consider that route, because I can’t imagine this was anyone’s passion project.