At its grassroots, MMORPGs, are huge online open worlds, virtual realities in which we escape to, to essentially play out another life. Along the way we make friends, foes, hell some of us even find partners. But what an MMO shouldn’t be, is a shameful and downright degrading experience. Japanese and Korean gaming has often been an affair of anime like characters, colorful worlds and more than often, scantily clad characters. Take a look back at Tera, some of the games races were altered so the game didn’t look so perverse. Aeria Games latest foray into the MMORPG market, Scarlet Blade, is the complete opposite of this. Being approached to review this game was something I wasn’t expecting and what I experienced in this game was the aforementioned degrading and shameful experience. With that said, let’s move on to the final review.
Aesthetics - 4
Graphically Scarlet Blade isn’t so bad. There are a lot worse MMO’s out there performing even worse on bad engines. A cyberpunk art style has taken center of this game though a more industrious feel has taken over the art style, ultimately feeling quite dull. The UI also is quite the issue. Spaced incredibly close together, in higher resolutions it still becomes awkward and often confusing to navigate some of the menus.
But what is more concerning about the aesthetics of the game are the character models. If you’re not aware of Scarlet Blade already, stay away. If you are aware, you’ll know why this game is fast becoming infamous and cropping up on a lot of “Worst of...” lists. See, the thing is with this MMO, not only have the developers made women the core focus of this game (you cannot even be a male), and I’m not saying that it is an unacceptable concept, but the developers have actively gone out of their way to heavily include nudity on these character models. Even if you’re fully kitted out in gear, there will always be something on show. Not only is this downright degrading but it’s also embarrassing to play. I mean, would you want someone to catch you playing this game?
Gameplay - 5
In terms of Scarlet Blade’s gameplay it’s just another theme park. It seems the Asian MMO market churns out MMOs these days not taking the time to create something which warrants attention and support. With Scarlet Blade, everything has been over-emphasized, as mentioned before with regard to character design. But even the gameplay has gone over the top as well. Gear acquired is a shiny and hulking as you could ever want it, even down to the core combat. Basic attacks will look like Iron Man has just taken out a battalion of soldiers.
All the relevant mechanics are in place which come with a traditional MMOs including PvP, instancing and guild support. It seems that everything within Scarlet Blade has been incredibly simplified, down right to leveling. The skill system is just so simple that achieving and differentiating between builds is almost impossible. A set of 4 passive skills are available to drop points into upon gaining a level and then active skills as well in the form of attacks or buffs. But the skill system is not vast whatsoever. We all love creating new builds for our characters and that is half the fun of an MMO: Leveling and then experimenting with different builds. In Scarlet Blade, the skill system is so minuscule that it is almost impossible to have more than one build or even differentiate yourself from the same class.
In terms of classes and races, there are two races to choose from and six classes to take on. The Royal Guards are the “Good” faction, taking a militaristic and law abiding approach, whereas The Free Knights are the “Evil” faction and look to freedom taking a chaotic approach. In terms of Scarlet Blades classes, it does mix it up a little with the cyberpunk approach that makes for some interesting concepts. Yet even these are brought down by its unashamedly pornographic approach.
It is a shame that a title, which brings across some interesting concepts, is ruined by it’s degrading approaches. As for quite some time we haven’t seen many cyberpunk themed MMOs on the market.
Innovation - 4
Although the cyberpunk setting is often considered a unique direction to take, what Scarlet Blade does is take already implemented features in other MMOs and puts a small spin on them. Take the classes for instance. Although they may seem unique and draw you in at first glance, ultimately these are just core roles taken from other MMOs on the market and given a small twist to fit with the premise of the game.
As is the main goal of most MMOs, they try to differentiate themselves from the pack to ultimately draw as many players in as possible by implementing features either new to the genre or completely unique and crafted well. In the case of Scarlet Blade, it does none of these.
Polish - 5
A lot of MMOs are normally fleshed out before launched. Alpha and Beta testing normally manage to flush out the big chunk of bugs that were present in these stages. Scarlet Blade, I’ll admit, is quite bug free. There are no gameplay issues that I have come across though some graphical issues need fleshing out, such as smoothing etc. The UI does need an overhaul also the biggest issue within Scarlet Blade is bots.
Upon logging in you’ll see bots spamming the chat for appropriate currency selling websites. In addition to this, you’ll also see the same character farming the same enemy for hours on end. It’s a huge problem in a lot of MMOs on the market, but ultimately brings down the main experience.
Longevity - 4
As it stands, Scarlet Blade does not have staying power in my mind. In terms of its degrading design, any gamer in their right mind would steer clear of this MMO. In addition to this, those who have played the game will understand how simplistic its gameplay is, providing no challenge at all.
But it is Scarlet Blade's main focus on women and showing them as they do which brings this game completely down in my eyes and I’m sure in many others'.
Social - 4
As mentioned before issues with bots make it hard to even pay attention to the chat. This is what it is normal. So far I’ve seen very few players in game (perhaps they have got the message already) but from what I have seen there is little support for the social aspects is in the game.
Value - 6
As with any free-to-play MMO, all the features are offered up on a silver platter. Everything you play in the game is completely free. There is a Cash Shop, as with most F2P titles, dubbed “Virtual Item Mall”. Items from XP boosts to mounts are offered as well as the option to turn your character completely nude, painting an even worse picture for this game.
In conclusion to my thoughts and experiences through my time in Scarlet Blade, it is a game which I will not find myself going back to. Its shameful pornographic design being the main focus of this title is something which the developers shouldn’t be proud of. It tries to be innovative in its ideals, employing a unique, but dull cyberpunk setting and providing a twist on already implemented classes, ultimately failing in this department.
There is a reason why you have seen this crop up in many “Worst of...” lists including our own “Worst MMOs of 2013”, if it’s not for these reasons mentioned within this review, then it is for it’s downright disgraceful approach to MMO design, or just the controversy it has caused within the MMO community. Scarlet Blade is a title you’ll feel ashamed to play, and is truly one of the worst MMOs of this year.