Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

2D arcade style action games like Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage is still a bit of a niche genre on PC, but don’t let that deter you from this title. There is enough fast paced combat to satisfy any action junkie and the stylish visuals are a treat for the eyes. It is clear that a lot of effort went into the design and presentation of this game and it is a title that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Gameplay: Frenetic combat that is very satisfying to master and two unique characters to swap between.

Graphics: Excellent backgrounds and outstanding character designs.

Sound: Some authentic and atmospheric tunes

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Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage

Developer: S-Game | Publisher: Origo Games | Release Date: 2013 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Soul and Shang are two assassins on a deadly mission to track and take down a sinister organization. There is an army of deadly opponents standing between them and their goals and some lethal locations to traverse, but this does not deter the fearless heroes. With unrelenting action and a unique Chinese flavored storyline Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage makes quite an impression.

Growing up, one of my favorite titles on the NES was a game called “Shadow of the Ninja” which was also known as “Blue Shadow.” The game featured two player local co-op with each player taking control of a ninja. Playing Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage brought back a lot of good memories as it is a very modern take on a classic genre.

One of the highlights of the game and the reason why I was reminded of Shadow of the Ninja is the two-player local co-op mode. The game unfortunately does not have an online mode but old school gamers will appreciate the local co-op. If you don’t have any friends that share your passion for martial artists slicing up bad guys you can play the game solo while switching between characters on the fly. Soul and Shang are two very different characters, each with their own unique moves and combos. As you progress through the levels you are able to buy new moves and upgrade old ones which transform your assassins into a truly formidable duo towards the end. The requirements for upgrading or buying moves can be a bit confusing at first as they require special items such as bells, idols and masks that have to be purchased or earned in combat but you’ll soon learn the ropes.

You are going to have to invest some time in mastering their skills, however as Rain Blood Chronicles delight in throwing loads of enemies in your direction. The emphasis is definitely skewed more towards the fighting than the platforming, which is not a bad thing. Since you are outnumbered most of the time the key to victory is performing devastating combos. Button mashing will get you far, but if you really want to excel and reach those “S” rank combos you need to invest some time in perfecting your moves. Your characters can perform a fast slash or slower strong attack as well as a special move.

Combat definitely favors juggling enemies in the air as once they hit the ground they are invincible until they get up again which can disrupt the flow of your combos. After you have disposed of the regular henchmen and creatures that seek to block your way you will have to take on some pretty spectacular bosses. These boss encounters are one of the highlights in the game and really deliver on the thrill of one-on-one battle against a powerful opponent. It can be quite jarring to be on the receiving end of a huge combo the first time, but it teaches you to evade, seek an opening and retaliate.

The game features eight levels, set in exotic locations such as a deserted town, dark forest, ancient castle and high Buddhist tower. What truly sets Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage apart is the excellent visual design. The game was created by an Indie developer from Beijing and they really delivered when it comes to the art direction. The 2D visuals look like something that was ripped straight from the pages of a graphic novel with hand painted backgrounds and outstanding character designs. The game uses a rather muted color palette to great effect, making for atmospheric and eye catching graphics. There isn’t much time during combat to stop and stare at your opponents, but fortunately you unlock bios for all enemies which you can check out between levels. I played the game in high resolution and the characters remained pin-sharp although some of the animated background details such as flags waving in the wind looked a bit more pixilated. The game moves at such a frantic pace, however, that you are unlikely to notice any visual shortcomings.

Between levels you are treated to a narrator explaining more about the rather convoluted storyline, but like all the other speech in the game this is done in Chinese with English subtitles. While I had no problem with this and it does add to the atmosphere of the game, it can be hard to read text displayed at the bottom of the screen during combat. Several levels feature bosses that taunt your characters or dialogue between characters which is displayed as subtitles. Taking your eyes off your character can result in losing track of him during all the carnage so I missed out on some bits of dialogue. It is also worth mentioning that I did notice a few spelling and grammar issues with the translated text. The item descriptions in particular suffer from some very uneven translating.

It took me about six hours to complete the story which is respectable, but thankfully not all that the game has to offer. With over 100 achievements and multiple difficulty settings there are plenty of reasons to go back for more. You also unlock a boss rush mode and battle tower upon completing the game which further boosts the replay value. Level designs are straightforward, so there isn’t much scope for exploration, although you can find a few hidden areas. You can also uncover some documents that reveal more about the story, locations and motivations of the characters.

The game can be played using a keyboard, but I would strongly suggest investing in a good gamepad if you don’t have one already. Games like this definitely benefit from the precision and comfort a gamepad offers and I had no problem pulling off some impressive combos using my Xbox 360 controller. The controls are completely customizable so you can remap everything to what works best for you. There were a few instances where I had to switch to using the mouse in order to navigate some of the menus while purchasing something from the shop but for the most part using the gamepad worked perfectly. I quite liked the audio in the game as it featured lots of atmospheric tunes with instruments such as the Chinese zither. The sound effects are also crisp and clear with each hit producing groans, screams and other audio feedback from enemies.

I really enjoyed my time with Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage and hopefully this will not be the last time that Shang and Soul grace our screens. The over the top combos and melee combat makes for very satisfying combat and this is probably the closest thing to a 2D Devil May Cry on PC so action fans should definitely check this game out.

*Review originally published November 2013.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Processor: Intel Pentium3, AMD Athlon Series
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon X1800, Nvidia GeForce 6800
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
  • OS: Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Processor: Intel Pentium3, AMD Athlon Series
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon X1800, Nvidia GeForce 6800
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space

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