Phantom Blade Zero Brings Flashy, Sword-Swinging Combat to IGN Live

LOS ANGELES—At IGN Live, developer S-Game gave PCMag a close look at Phantom Blade Zero, its upcoming action game. Qiwei Liang, S-Game’s CEO, showcased the frantic, sword-swinging fighting via a hands-off demo.

Phantom Blade Zero takes inspiration from developer FromSoftware’s infamously tough titles, but it isn’t a Souls game in the conventional sense. Its strongest ties to that series come from the interconnected world design and parry-centric gameplay, which recalls Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. In fact, the game’s action is much closer Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

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Unlike those titles’ mission-based structures, Phantom Blade Zero’s gameplay is structured around large, connected areas, with its story events nudging you from one point to the next. The development team promises plenty of exploration. Qiwei Liang showed us several secret alcoves where you’ll find treasure in the final game.

In terms of combat, Phantom Blade Zero utilizes a two-button combo system that lets you unleash flashy attacks. There’s also a dedicated block button to deflect incoming blows, and an evasive skill. The challenge comes from learning your enemy’s rhythm to properly avoid damage and get your licks in. If you’ve played Sekiro or the recent Stellar Blade, this type of gameplay should sound familiar.

The block drains stamina, however. You suffer a guard break and eat damage if you run out of juice. Parrying offsets this. You refund lost stamina by timing your guards in rhythm with an enemy’s attacks. You’ll indefinitely avoid damage upon mastering this technique.

Naturally, enemies have sneaky special attacks to counter your own. Their heavy blows have a blue glow, and deal heavy stamina damage (parrying them lets you perform a powerful counter, though). Red attacks are unblockable, so you must dodge them. However, you’re rewarded with a counterattack window when you time your evasion well.

Phantom Blade Zero is more forgiving than other parry-style games in that it’s much easier to cancel your combo strings into defense. Sekiro and Stellar Blade force you to commit, and penalize you for being aggressive at the wrong time.

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We look forward to playing this PC and PlayStation 5 game, but it currently lacks a release date.

Disclosure: IGN is owned by PCMag’s parent company Ziff Davis.

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