Dark Slash falls squarely into the genre of slashers – think Fruit Ninja, with the exception that here the objects fight back. And it is an obvious and perfect use of the genre – instead of slashing fruit, spend your energy fighting baddies.
Controls are simple. Your hero, the dark figure with the blue glowing blade, appears in the middle of an empty field. Within seconds, shadowy figures begin to appear. A tap will cause the hero to dash to the new location slashing with his blade, killing all enemies in his path. A swipe will cause a quick move – though I strongly recommend attempting to make every move an attack. The game’s fun is in its simplicity. Kill bad guys before your own inevitable demise.
At first the enemies will simply follow the hero around and get in the way. However, as soon as enemies with blades and bows appear, change your attacks to take them out first. Yellow blades will attack the hero and bows will shoot arrows that the hero can run into. Harder enemies appear and become quite impressive but no spoilers. The game is unforgiving and the difficulty escalates quickly. Each kill adds to the bar at the top of the screen to complete a round and with each round the difficulty only escalates that much more. Think a frustration level only a bit below Flappy Bird (but with so much more gameplay and personality).
The hero’s attack is limited and a tap too far away will cause the hero to only move part way, possibly leaving you open to attack, especially once multiple blades begin spawning. With practice, this can be taken into account but dying because an attack is not as strong as planned is very frustrating. I would rather the hero be able to dash the full distance and let deaths be the player’s fault.
Replay value is very high; the game loads quickly and smoothly and there is very little to slow restarting a game after the inevitable end. Graphics are purposely dark in a fantastic 8-bit way but glowing blades and bows indicate who poses the greatest threat. This is a game that cannot be played in strong or glare-y lighting, darkness is better. Moody music (that is definitely better with head phones) adds well to the game’s eerie atmosphere.
Graphics: Fittingly dark graphics create atmosphere and challenges. Not very playable in sunlight.
Gameplay: Simple and strategic – nice action-puzzle that requires fast reaction time.
User Interface: Few buttons though at times the use of symbols instead of labels is more confusing than helpful.
Usability: Quick loading and reloading makes this a game that’s easy to replay.
Final Thoughts: Dark Slash is a great next step for the slashing genre, one that actually manages to add some danger beyond random bombs. Dark and moody but fast paced and difficult, great for those quick moments of escape or, even, longer moments of obsession.