A Little Look At… Blade Warrior

This incredibly stylish game caught my eye way back when it came out in 1991, although the unorthodox visuals combined with the obtuse gameplay meant that I didn’t exactly get very far at the time. Fast forward twenty two years (yikes!) and… well, I’m still not very good at this one; but it is beautiful and has a wonderful atmosphere so I can’t complain too much!
The basic aim is to collect seven fragments of a stone tablet, bring them to a handy local sorcerer and then use your freshly powered-up sword to defeat Murk, The Big Bad. As with most games of the era this is all explained in the manual, starting “blind” you’ll find yourself being harassed by giant spiders in the middle of nowhere within seconds with no direction whatsoever.
The HUD doesn’t help much either – because there isn’t one. But in one of those “Oooh neat!” moments, I can tell you that the moon represents your health, with a full moon meaning you’re in tip-top condition and a new moon meaning you’ll be reloading your save any second now. There is also a vaguely useful area map and a separate inventory screen accessible at any time by pressing the “M” and “I” keys respectively.
The only objects that aren’t silhouetted are collectibles, which are mostly used for creating useful magic spells. These items come in all shapes and sizes, anything from lightning bolts to frogs and spider webs can be picked up and brewed, although you need to be at a tower to do actually create the potions and assign them to an F-key.
These towers have three possible places to visit – the potion brewing area, the tower’s wizard, and a rather cool little dragon-back shmup section that takes you to a different area. The wizard can be asked a series of questions about a variety of subjects, although if you actually want anything useful out of them you’ll need to find whatever obscure collectible they’re after and trade it to them first.
The game also came out on PC (DOS), although it doesn’t look quite as striking as the Amiga version. An Atari ST version was worked on (and even previewed) although as far as I’ve been able to tell it was never released even though my own manual sheet scan below has loading instructions for it.
Even after all this time I’m still fascinated by the creepy and strange world this game invites you into, that feeling of being lost and alone in an otherworldy place… but I’ve got to be fair, a lot of that being lost feeling comes from actually being lost! It’s not an easy game to love, but I do keep trying!