A downloadable game for Windows


The retro tactics RPG about love, war, and petting a big fluffy dog.*  Follow Princess Freya on an epic quest to save their city from the evil Kingdom of Oberon.  Along the way, she'll make incredible friends, challenge the might of an empire, and unlock the mystery behind the legendary Bright Blades!

Bright Blades is a turn-based tactics game made especially for strategy newcomers.  Each map has a unique objective, from defeating enemies to rescuing prisoners and uncovering ancient lore.  With over 30 levels, a retro art aesthetic, and a soundtrack by Johnathan Johnson (composer of Brilliant Shadows and Women of Xal), Bright Blades is a unique tactical RPG where all players are welcome!

Bright Blades is available for free.  It is exclusive to Windows operating systems.

*(And, yes, you can pet the dog!)

Early Access

This is an Early Access release of Bright Blades.  It includes the entirety of the game's 30+ chapter story.   However, please be advised that some content in the late-game has not received as much testing and polish as we would like. 

Kindly report any issues that you encounter, and we will endeavour to fix them before the final release.  Our team is always eager to receive constructive criticism on possible improvements.

Features

  • Early access release of a full tactical RPG.
  • Over 30 levels of gameplay, with a range of unique objectives.
  • Over 20 characters to play as, each with their own unique skills and stories.
  • A massive range of classes, weapons, and abilities to master.
  • Beautiful retro pixel graphics inspired by the 8-bit era.
  • Four levels of difficulty: from the easygoing Divine all the way to the deliberately over-the-top Demonic.
  • Multiple secret scenes that allow you to uncover the history of the cast and the world of Bright Blades.
  • Soundtrack composed by Johnathan Johnson, composer of Brilliant Shadows and creator of Women of Xal.
  • Easily-accessible tutorials and other quality-of-life features to help anyone get into the game, regardless of their strategy skill level.
  • A classic fantasy story about love and war, inspired by Norse Mythology and William Shakespeare, with a diverse and LGBT+ inclusive cast.
  • Every character can pet a big fluffy dog to give him power-ups.  Whosagoodboi!

Credits

  • Game & Narrative Designer: Sam Rowett, 
  • Scenario Editors: Liv Jones, Mona Urban, El Havoc, Heidi Tabing
  • Character Designer: Liv Jones
  • Portrait Artists: Julian Miller, Keanu Soropia, Sam Rowett
  • UI Artists: Sam Rowett, Heidi Tabing
  • Composer: Jonathan Johnson
  • C# Plugins: Claris, Goinza

To-Do and Known Bugs

The following is a list of all currently-known bugs in the game, which we intend to correct with all subsequent content 

  • Some character portraits (such as Eir or Alruna) or animations are incomplete, and either do not display or do not do so properly.  These will be gradually implemented and corrected with successive updates.
  • A bug in Chapter 13 can stop the game from advancing.  This issue has been identified and corrected.
  • A bug in Chapter 19 stops the game proceeding beyond this point.  The issue has been identified and testing is currently underway.  We expect to have this bug fixed by the time of the next update

Install instructions

Download the game onto your Windows OS machine device.

If you are downloading a new version of the game, please make sure to carry your progress over.  Copy the folder named "Save" from the old game folder and paste it into the update's folder.

If Microsoft Defender SmartScreen does not recognise the app, select "More info" and then "Run anyway".

Download

Download
Bright Blades - Early Access (v.0.1.1).zip 61 MB

Development log

Comments

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Played through the current build. It's fun, well-written, and noticeably difficult. Strong recommend to anyone who likes Fire Emblem.

Specific thoughts from my playthrough in case they're helpful for design stuff:

-If you go straight to the setting screen before you've learned the controls and then try to exit back to menu the rpgmaker way (pressing Esc,) you instead close the game. It could be worth having a 'return to main menu' option in the settings menu for people who have just booted the game and don't know Esc is a trap.

-Petting Baldur is a spectacular mechanic. Absolute serotonin in game form. However, you may want to mention pets can be repeated, and that some chapters have talks between characters that work the same as pets. I'm pretty sure I've missed a few pets because I didn't realize this. Also the trial-and-error of mashing people next to each other to generate talk commands feels kinda frustrating. This is a part of the FE formula that I'm glad later FEs streamlined.

-Dead levels. I know they're part of the FE formula, but it would be nice to have +1 HP or +1 Luck instead of a dead level.

-Good lord map 4 is hard on normal. You're really reliant on a good rng seed winnowing down enemy numbers or having known this map was coming and power-levelling a character to formation-break your way through it. Also every time you die you have to wait through the rng fighting itself again. A map 3.5 or a shop or something to help you gear up for it would help a lot. I'm also genuinely not sure this map is possible on harder difficulties unless allied units also benefit from the stat-scaling.

-Weapons not having durability is interesting. Durability is FE's check on always-use-the-powerful-weapon gameplay, and shops are FE's check to running out of weapons and bricking your save. Without durability, I think there's room for a meta where all weapons are equally good but all do different things, but I'm not quite sure that's how they currently work.

-Oh, thieves can steal people's weapons without even risking getting countered? The game's hard, so I'm glad for all the tools I can get my hands on, but this feels mega busted. At least it's a solution for enemy mages.

-I'm on map 6, and enemy magic feels like a bit of a one-shot machine. Thrud strolled into the gigantic range of a lightning mage and got instantly crit killed from full health, and this sorta makes the only tool for dealing with mage groups the antimagic harp. And even then, you need a character who can reliably one-shot mages because they have to keep dancing back in and out of reach to refresh their buffs, and the rest of the team has to keep backpedaling to make sure the mages don't lock onto anyone else and instakill them. Because any character dying = game over, high dps enemies with decent crit potential means there's a certain amount of rng to whether you have to reset each run. I don't think this map is impossible. I can sandbag it. But even on normal it feels like it's made more for save states than for regular console play.

I'm only at map 6, and I might take a break, but I'll thread more feedback here if I'm able to play further.

Cleared chapter 6, and I can now confirm thieves are straight busted. I stole Morholt's Waterwheel and other spells, then farmed infinite hits off of him with low damage weapons.

You can also strip an enemy of weapons, body block them, and then endlessly steal a vulnerary off and onto them for massive exp.

Also, I did some more thinking, and I know that crits are part of the FE formula, but what if you just removed enemies' ability to crit? Crits are interesting on the player's side, and I don't think they're 100% a bad mechanic, but on the computer's side they're sort of just an RNG check to see whether you need to redo a map. They might not be essential to the game's balance.

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Hey there, thanks for playing the game!

There's a lot to respond to there, so I hope you won't mind if I go through all that as bullet points?

* The Esc-quit-game problem is a bug.  It should hopefully be fixed by the next update.

* Can you give a bit more information about what you mean with the Talk commands and Pets repeating?  If a conversation becomes available between characters, it should always be availible.  Moving chapters shouldn't reset it.  Likewise, Petting scenes should not be repeatable: every character has at least one unique one.  If you can tell me a bit more about what's going on there, I might be able to fix the issue.

* Dead levels is a thing I'll need to look into but thanks for raising that.

* A lot of people seem to vary on how difficult they find Chapter 4.  We're trying to re-balance it a bit.

* Thieves are being balanced out because, yeah, you aren't the first to mention the busted-ness of them.

* Magic is getting a bit of a balance.  However, you are *meant* to use the anti-magic harp to negate it.  I do agree that the buffs could be a bit longer (and I will probably incorporate that) but that is what the harp is there for.

* I might experiment with enemies not having crits, but we'll see how that goes in testing.  

* I don't know what you mean when you say "Any character dying = Game Over".  That isn't supposed to happen and no one else has mentioned that bug.  There is no permadeath, and characters come back if KO'd.  The only exceptions are Freya (the main character), and any character you need to defend as part of a mission (like Nimue in Chapter 6).  Again, if you could give me a bit more info, that would really help.

Thanks for playing the game!  I am still in the process of working on some updates and bug fixes, so I hope that you'll stay tuned for those!

Oh, I completely misunderstood the talk and pet mechanic, then. It's basically support conversations from the modern games, not the "these two characters need to talk during this map" thing that Thracia was doing. There's no bug here, I was just confused on how it worked.

Likewise, I'd misunderstood how death works, and assumed losing a character was permanent. 

This actually...maybe makes the game a lot easier. I'll keep playing and see if being able to safely lose team members takes some pressure off of missions.

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Yeah, we made the game to be friendly to newcomers: so we omitted permadeath.

I'm pretty sure the tutorials should mention that?  :o  Did you play with them on?

If they didn't show up, that'd be the first time that's happened, so I'd like to know how to amend that.

So chapter 4 on the highest difficulty is essentially impossible. The queen just dies before you can get there. I think it might be theoretically possible with save spamming and manipulating the rng to try to get misses from the warlocks, but that's a bit beyond the scope of what should be required. 

It probably makes the most sense to fiddle around with the green units scaling with difficulty to get enough of a delay that it isn't just an rng grind. It's important to note that the difficulty scaling hurts you twice on this level: tankier enemies make it harder to rush, and more enemy dps shortens the timer.

Do keep in mind I've only played up to chapter 19. I've played on normal, and I've played through the first 6 or so levels on the highest difficulty as well.


So starting with the good stuff:

  • Your tutorials are excellent. I think the pedagogy part of what you've put together is by far the strongest element. Using the dog to introduce the interaction mechanic is just brilliant, and you strike a good balance of explaining things without giving all the answers.
  • Your dancer-replacement is extremely pleasant to play with without feeling overpowered. I love how they fill that "problem solver" role more fully, and the design of that class is just amazing start to finish.
  • I enjoy how you're leaning into the story. My one note on the writing is to pull some inspiration from comic books or graphic novels and lean a bit heavier on onomatopoeia and other ways to turn text into action. 
  • The class system is straightforward and forgiving, while still presenting some real tasty choices. I'd enjoy some further specialization of unique units where its either more of a lateral change or where one of the options closely matches the strengths of their base class. Something along the lines of options for mobility or defensive tools but they come at a steep cost. 
  • A number of your levels are fantastic. The ones that really stick out are all the ones where the mechanics are really story driven. Chapter 13 and the dream sequence stuff really stands out, and although it was a little buggy for me (in terms of being able to interact with villages and chests), the optional stealth mission was as well. You've done a fantastic job with terrain in this regard, tying the gameplay into the story.
  • The battle music has been really enjoyable.


So now lets talk a little about the problematic stuff:

  • The most important note that I have is that your weapons do not feel distinct. In base fire emblem, not only is there the whole weapon triangle deal, but because they use weapon durability, the costs of the various weapons are a huge part of their design. Axes are cheap, swords are expensive, and it makes it a large strain on your finances to be training multiple low-tier sword units. Because the defenses of sword units are the strongest option lategame (evasion), this is a tradeoff that gives some fantastic "more difficult now but pays off later" sorts of play patterns. When your weapons don't feel distinct, your character and class choices matter less, and that doesn't feel great as a player.

    Right now, only your magic and your knives feel distinct. Magic is the ultimate long-range option, but it also has unique defenses to deal with.  And knives have a good niche as a debuffing specializaiton. I'm gonna hold off talking about bows until I see how the cupid bow performs on the highest difficulty.

    The solution to this has to lie in your skills system, which is based on the unit, the class, and the items. Skills on items, in addition to your class skills, let you make weapon types matter without opening up the can of worms that is weapon durability. Its a real cost to use a weapon for its skill, particularly if the stats are middling. For swords, I'd think of something like a low base crit sword that makes your crits ignore armor, a low power sword that gives you evasion (10 or 15 or so), and a high power high crit sword with negative accuracy. The sword niche I outlined there is powerful with high investment, but relatively weak until you get there. Put vantage on a lance. Put a max health aura on an axe. Remember that particularly for combat skills (as opposed to utility ones), its a real opportunity cost to be using them, so you can make some really interesting stuff.
  • The skill activation noise is a bit jarring. It's a much more abrasive sound than I'd expect, and if I'm feeling twitchy it makes me want to turn off sound effects altogether.
  • Steal is comically overpowered. If we look at fire emblem to see what tools they used to balance it, there are a number of safety mechanisms that you just don't have in the game right now. Sometimes they'd make it so equipped items can't be stolen, they'd frequently have a weight vs str mechanic that made it very difficult to steal specific things (namely siege tomes). They'd also lock important items so that even with finagling you can't steal them at all. In addition, the fact that here you can swap stuff back like a trade makes it very easy to infinite grind xp, which in turn makes axe users the easiest to train after you get the steal axe. It did not feel right that when the black knight was a map boss I could steal his lance.

    I don't know what the solution is here, but everything from giving units a weaponless attack, implementing some of those safety features, being more careful about what weapons you give a steal-happy player should be looked at. Infinite use siege tomes on flying spellcasters trivializes any content, and you can get a lot of siege tomes. 
  • Speaking of infinite siege tomes, magic defenses are a problem. Specifically the lack of them, and the all-or-nothing nature of their limited existence. They need to be on class skills so that they can't just be stolen off, and there needs to be more enemies that can punish long-ranged attack strategies (though do remember I've only seen through ch19). Having some "takes half damage from magic" class skills floating around would improve things a lot. If a boss has a magic guard, your siege tome comp can just kill everything around them, then haste in a thief to take it off them, then one-round them anyways. Also the text on magic guard item says take half damage, but in practice it gives a skill that means you take no damage from magic. All of this is less of a problem when access to siege tomes is more tightly controlled, or if levels are designed to have adequate countermeasures against them.


All that to say I really enjoy what you all have been working on. Steal is a notoriously difficult mechanic to balance properly, and this is still in the early stages of things. The stuff that's really hard to fix if you don't have it right is pretty much all there. The highlight by far is the tutorials and how smooth they've felt, so I think that you're on the right track as a more accessible fire emblem clone.

Hey there, thanks so much for all your feedback!  Really helpful to get such a detailed insight.  I'm really glad you've been enjoying the game.

I shall aim to try and get the bugs for Chapter 13 and 19 fixed over tomorrow and the weekend.  Stealing is a bit bugged as well, so I'm also aiming to fix that.  You aren't really supposed to be able to steal enough to leave the opponent unequipped.

I do think those are good inputs on the weapons, though.  You raise a lot of good points, and I'll definitely give that some consideration.  Perhaps a bit more balancing is in order.

Thanks for discussing these again!  You've given me a lot to think about, and I'm really glad that you've had fun with the game.  I'll be sure to update you once I've got the bugs fixed so that you can continue doing so!

I'm happy to give all the feedback! I've got thousands of hours of fond experience playing the GBA era fire emblem games, which bright blades seems to be something of a love letter to.

I think your decision to go away from durability is a strong one, and feels really in-line with the new-player friendly design approach you're taking. But it does put some tension on swords lances and axes specifically. I'm looking forward to what you end up doing with it : D


When I'm able to finish through the storyline I'll have my notes on that as well. 


It warms my heart that this is a game being made.

-Mango

Thank you again for all your lovely comments and constructive criticism.  Insight like this is really valuable towards helping us to build a better game.

Saw your comment about Chapter 4's difficulty, too.  That is quite a difficult level, it seems.  Some have managed to get through, others have not, so I'll experiment with balancing it and see what happens.

In any case, I think I've found a fix for the bug in Chapter 19 and am hoping to release the next content update to fix it in the coming days, along with a few other adjustments I've made to the game since our initial release.  Hope you're looking forward to it, and thanks again for your feedback!

I can't progress past chapter 19. I can't get the seize command showing up for the last castle. Replayed the level a few times to try various timings on the event triggers, and still can't find a way through.

Hey, thanks for playing the game!  We look forward to your more detailed review!

Regarding those two issues: they definitely sound like bugs.   I’ll be away most of today but I can have a look after and fix them afterwards.   Thank you for reporting them.

I was getting a bug where on chapter 13 if you full clear the map before visiting the center, the story elements don't play right and you have to go back and reload the level.

I'll have a much more comprehensive review up here soon. There's a number of things that you guys are doing really well.