Price: $19.99, $34.99, $49.99
Release date: August 11, 2021
Genre: Battle royale
Developer: 24 Entertainment
Publisher: NetEase Games
Imagine Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets battle royale. That over-the-top combat in a 60-player match is the best way to describe Naraka: Bladepoint, though that alone doesn’t quite do it justice.
There’s more to Naraka: Bladepoint than just furiously attempting to outdo your opponent in battle. Hunting down another player is exhilarating, as is the frantic terror you’ll experience when someone is chasing you and you’re low on health or armor.
This game is not for the faint of heart. Battle royales can often be quite difficult, but this one takes the concept that many know and love and slaps in some punishingly challenging combat. Duels can last for minutes on end as each player attempts to make the other slip up. Parries, grapples, ability usage, it’s all part of a dance that takes time to master.
This is a game that rewards your time investment, but not everyone will find it to their liking. As you’ll see in our Naraka: Bladepoint review, the game does have flaws. Even so, it’s an excellent and rewarding hybrid of a battle royale and a fighting game.
Naraka: Bladepoint review: Gameplay
Naraka: Bladepoint feels like if you took Tekken and threw everyone into a wide-open map to duke it out. Slap in some sick grappling hook moves and you got yourself Naraka: Bladepoint. I really like it.
You can queue up solo or in trios, depending on your playstyle. I’m the lone wolf type, so I played solos. You’ll primarily fight with melee weapons such as longswords, greatswords, and spears, and you’ll have some ranged options as well. Don’t rely on ranged combat, though, as it has a very steep learning curve. Bows and flintlock rifles are fun in a pinch, but skilled players will close the gap on you before you can land a shot.
Don’t be fooled by your first couple of matches, since Naraka: Bladepoint pits you against bots to get your feet wet. I wish games that did this were better about advertising that fact, instead of lulling you into a false sense of confidence. This move by Naraka: Bladepoint’s developers, 24 Entertainment, upset several players. I admit that I found myself disappointed when I learned this — and here I thought I was just naturally good at the game.
Like fellow battle royale Apex Legends, Naraka: Bladepoint features several heroes with their own styles and abilities. A couple feel more overpowered than others, though 24 Entertainment will likely rein them in eventually.
The deep combat and movement systems keep Naraka: Bladepoint interesting for a while, even if the gameplay loop itself can grow a bit stale. If you don’t like battle royales or don’t find them particularly interesting for the long-term, then Naraka: Bladepoint probably won’t change your mind.
Naraka: Bladepoint review: Story and setting
Being a battle royale, Naraka: Bladepoint doesn’t focus too much on story. You play as one of several heroes who head to Morus Island. On this island long ago, two gods fought and died, leaving their power behind for mortals to find.
That’s your impetus for battle in this game, duking it out for supremacy and godlike powers. It’s admittedly not very deep, but 24 Entertainment could expand the lore in the future, much like Respawn has done with the Apex Legends universe. But as the game sits now, you’re just fighting in a Chinese mythology-inspired world. It works out quite well, I think.
Naraka: Bladepoint review: Visuals and sound
Naraka: Bladepoint looks like a top-notch game, complete with gorgeous visuals and animations. It was a smooth experience on the PC I tested it on (Ryzen 7 1700X, RTX 2080 Ti). There’s support for Nvidia DLSS here, too, which I recommend going with if you’re on an RTX GPU.
Character models look great, with plenty of rich detail on faces and clothing, not to mention all of the skin options. Weapons also feature visual customization, and each one looks fantastic.
Sound design is important in a battle royale and Naraka: Bladepoint delivers on that front. Nearby enemies make noticeable sounds when walking, running, and grappling. Combat itself also has great audio, with resounding clangs of metal on metal and nice effects for abilities.
The music is ultimately forgettable, but Naraka: Bladepoint is not an epic, story-based game where an impressive soundtrack would lend more weight.
Naraka: Bladepoint review: Verdict
Naraka: Bladepoint is a nice change of pace from the shooter-based battle royales that are popular right now. The focus on melee combat makes the game feel more personal, with less opportunities for getting wrecked from across the map by a skilled sniper. Mashing the left mouse button won’t win you many duels, either — you need to time your attacks and parries to be effective.
Being a live service, Naraka: Bladepoint features some hefty monetization for cosmetics and the battle pass. This is unfortunate in a premium title, but that’s how things work nowadays. So far, I haven’t seen any pay-to-win mechanics.
At $20 to start, Naraka: Bladepoint is fun if you’re bored of the big players in the battle royale space. But like others of its ilk, it can quickly grow stale, especially if you play alone. It does earn its merit with fun gameplay, but it’s still a battle royale at its core with many of the genre’s shortcomings.