Caladrius Blaze
Gameplay 9
Graphics 8
Sound 9

Take to the skies as one of eight different characters and blast your enemies to bits in this vertically scrolling shooter. It is a little heavy on fan service and the visuals have not aged as well as we would have liked, but in terms of gameplay, Caladrius Blaze is still a very solid shooter. It has got plenty of modes as well as an adjustable challenge that makes it accessible to players of all skill levels. The game does have a couple of issues, so make sure you know about these before purchasing.

Gameplay: As challenging as you want it to be and quite addictive to boot.

Graphics: Nice character designs and plenty of fan service, but the 3D textures really show their age.

Sound: Japanese voice overs as well as some nice background tunes

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Caladrius Blaze

Developer: Moss Co., Ltd. | Publisher: H2 Interactive Co., Ltd. | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Action / Bullet Hell Shooter | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Graham, the 12th king of the Baladin kingdom used to be a benevolent ruler until betrayal by vassals from his late father’s reign left him without his wife and child. This prompts the grief struck Graham to believe that it was his own weakness that resulted in his terrible loss. Things take an even darker turn when Graham turns to the use of a forbidden spell to gain more power, plunging the kingdom into darkness and despair. The task of taking down Graham and ending the madness now rests in the hands of eight different people who, for reasons of their own, have their own scores to settle with the king.

Caladrius Blaze is a vertically scrolling shooter from Moss Co, the developers who also worked on Raiden III and IV. Players get to choose from eight different characters, each of which has their own special ship as well as unique elemental attacks. It is these elemental attacks that set Caladrius Blaze apart from the competition and makes the game so much fun to play. Unlike your main firing mode, the three elemental attacks have gauges that deplete as you fire them. These gauges slowly replenish, but you are going to have to cycle between them before they are fully depleted if you want to keep your multiplier gauges up. This gauge influences your score and resets if you lose a life or destroy enemies with your main weapon, so careful weapon management is required for the big scores. After completing a level you can also upgrade your shot types to make them more effective. Obviously you can just ignore all of this and simply blast everything that moves with whatever weapon you fancy, but the elemental attacks definitely add some depth to the game.

The other thing that Caladrius Blaze does a little differently is its “shame break” mechanic. What this basically means is that the characters are prone to losing their clothes if they take damage. Since most of the characters, including the bosses, are anime girls, this means that the game is packed with plenty of fan service. While the images are not exactly safe for work, there isn’t any actual nudity, although thanks to some strategically placed shreds of fabric, it is probably as close as you can get. This feature is understandably not something that everyone is going to appreciate, so there is thankfully the option to disable these images. On the other hand, for those that appreciate this kind of thing, there is also a gallery section where you can admire the artwork without the stress of dodging bullets.

As far as bullet hell shooters go, Caladrius Blaze is pretty accommodating to newcomers. In addition to the “Original” mode, the game also includes “Arcade” and “Evolotion”, which adds a couple of special stages. Evolution also features an additional stage, complete with a brand new boss. These modes also make some changes to the way in which your special attacks work, so they are worth checking out. Caladruis Blaze also features a host of difficulty settings, which means it is accessible to players of all skill levels. The pros can jump straight into the hardest modes for a real challenge while newcomers can try out the easier ones. There is even a “practice” mode that eliminates all enemy bullets and if this is still too hard you can enable “no damage” to prevent all damage to your craft. These modes are really handy for learning the ropes and seeing the levels without any frustration. You can even adjust the number of lives and bombs your character has, from one to five, although you will have to play with default settings if you want a shot at the leaderboards. Finally, you basically have infinite continues, so completing the game shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you want to see the hidden final level and boss you are going to have to reach it with one credit, which takes a little practice.

Since Caladrius Blaze has a story mode, it is actually quite fun to play through it with the different characters just to see their conversations with the bosses. Each character also has their own ending and everything is tracked in the gallery mode where you can also view profiles, conversations and more. The English translation could probably have been a little better, but nothing stood out as too horrible. Players who tire of the story mode will also appreciate the boss rush mode and score attack mode that can be unlocked.

In terms of visuals Caladrius Blaze is a bit of a mixed bag. The 2D sprites look great, but the game makes use of 3D models for the actual game. The bosses still look pretty impressive, but the backgrounds look a little bland and dated thanks to some rather low resolution textures. It also doesn’t help that the game only runs in 720p and your only visual options are playing the game in windowed or fullscreen mode. The actual 3D isn’t too bad as it gives some nice depth to the backgrounds and also allows for neat tricks like the camera rotating around objects like towers while you fly. This doesn’t influence the gameplay in any way, though, as the movement of your craft is strictly on a 2D plane.

 

The game sounds exactly like you would expect a Japanese bullet hell shooter to sound, so you can expect plenty of explosions and high pitched yelps from characters. All the voices in the game are in Japanese, but the music, sound effects and voice volume can be adjusted independently, so you can customize everything to your taste. The actual music is pretty good, but can be drowned out by all the voices and sound effects. To play Caladrius Blaze you will ideally want a good controller as using a keyboard is a bit of a chore. The game also features a two-player co-op mode, so grab a controller for a friend while you are at it. Using a controller just makes it easier to keep track of the four different attack and two special buttons.

Overall, we had a blast with Caladrius Blaze, but there is no denying that it is not the type of game that is going to appeal to everyone. If you are a fan of bullet hell shooters, then this one comes highly recommended, especially if you want one that is accessible to newcomers or playable in co-op. The excessive fan service might deter some players, but you can simply disable this feature, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The low resolution is a bit of a bummer, especially for players with large, high definition screens. Finally, the Steam version of the game features some nice Achievements, but come at the cost of only being playable online, so if that is an issue it is better to opt for the GOG version. All things considered, Caladrius Blaze is definitely a fun game and one that offers plenty of value for money, but make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7 / 8 / 10
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphic card with 512MB VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Direct Sound
  • OS: Windows 7 / 8 / 10
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.66GHz or better
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphic card with 1GB VRAM or better
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Direct Sound

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