I saw a couple of Southpeak's upcoming titles today, including one that I didn't even know existed, to be perfectly honest. A development team of Russian Japanophiles - get this, their name is Gaijin - set out to create the most anime-styled action title they could, and came up with X-Blades, headed for PC and next-gen consoles in the Fall.

Like anime style? Like cel-shaded 3D cutscenes? Like crazy outfits? This one could be for you, maybe.

The lead character is a relic hunter named Ayumi, and the character design is distinctly RPG-inspired, right down to the fact she has three blond ponytails, robot shoes, and ass-less pants with just about nothing covering her butt except a piece of strategically placed floss.


The basic idea is, against better advisement Ayumi tracks down a dark artifact of great power, determined to win it for herself, and must wrest it away from some hordes of monsters both great and small. I didn't see more than the intro sequence and the first stage of gameplay, but the cutscenes are, in a word, absolutely beautiful, and so are the action animations. The art just looks great, and the character moves feel especially fluid and responsive. I loved the way Ayumi's hair and blades moved around - think Nariko a little bit, but in cute 3D cel-shaded art.

In addition to the blades, Ayumi has a gun and can also learn various spells that can be manually assigned to any button on the controller - I tried a fire spell against an ice elemental, and an earthquake spell in a craggy area full of little beasties.

The build I played was quite early, and the rep told me the team's still working out game balance and some control issues. That sort of work still obviously needs to continue, as it got a little hard to tell what was going on with some of the enemy swarms, and the gun, using the trigger buttons, doesn't feel nearly as spot-on or satisfying as the hack-and-slash X button moves.


So it's hard to tell whether this title will be a big win, but considering I hadn't heard of it until today, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with some key aspects of the look and feel. We'll see if the rest of the gameplay comes up to snuff.