Multiplayer swordfighting game Blade Symphony (opens in new tab) has gone free-to-play.
The move was announced in 2017 and follows the massive Harmonious Prelude update (opens in new tab), which upgraded the game engine and added new modes on top of the standard 1v1 arena duels. Developer Puny Human said in a Steam post on Friday (opens in new tab) that the change was not a money grab, and that only four items would be for sale through an in-game store—all it wanted was to make the game "more accessible, and have a longer life", it said.
Unfortunately, the game has been flooded with negative reviews since the change. The user reviews from the last 30 days are "mostly negative", and just 30% of users posted a positive review compared with 70% in the game's five-year life span.
Clicking through the reviews (opens in new tab), it's a mixture of existing players who feel angry about the move to free-to-play—"it's a slap in the face for the people that paid money"—and new players criticizing the performance and clunky controls.
Going free-to-play has given the player count a boost, and a couple hundred players are now online compared to virtually zero in the preceding month, according to Steam Charts (opens in new tab). But Puny Human has its work cut out to please its new players and fix bugs. I can imagine it's an intimidating game to get into, especially when you're fighting players that already have 50 hours under their belt.
The free-to-play update also added 48 new items and rebuilt the popular Castle map, Puny Human said in the Steam post. Anyone that owned the premium version of the game will get a total of 10 exclusive items, and "we hope we won't have to stop there", it said.
I still reckon it's worth a look. Our 85/100 review (opens in new tab) talked about how its 1v1 duels were "thoroughly, distinctively, and consistently exhilarating", and Chris enjoyed trying to climb the ladders in this excellent two-part feature (opens in new tab).
You can download it here (opens in new tab).