Die by the Blade review

by on May 16, 2024
Release Date

May 16, 2024


On paper, and indeed in trailers, Die by the Blade seemed like a pretty enticing prospect. A 1v1 weapons-based fighter with a one-hit-kill mechanic baked in, it seemed developer Grindstone was aiming for a spiritual successor to ancient PS1 classic Bushido Blade. Sadly, though, Die by the Blade misses the mark, instead delivering a lacklustre and content-light experience.

Die by the Blade has very little story to give its fighting context. While it’s not necessary, these days even 1v1 fighters have a tendency to add some world-building, and sparse descriptions for the seven available characters here (five of which take some time to unlock, by the way) just doesn’t do enough to make you care about what they’re doing or why. It’s also weird to have “rounds” in a one-hit-kill game, so you decapitate a punk in a street samurai tracksuit and then they apparently “walk it off” for a few minutes before jumping in for round two. Although I suppose this is small potatoes in a world where we also have Mortal Kombat.

Die by the Blade

Regardless, Die by the Blade is a fairly simple game on the surface with some interesting ideas found a little deeper. You select your character from the admittedly bland roster, step into one of a handful of pretty arenas, and then attempt to land that one killer cut. Combat has a similar mechanic to For Honor, in that you can only block an attack if you’re in the correct stance. You switch between high, low and medium, and must read your opponent’s intent.

This is actually fairly easy to cheese against the AI, as I got through countless fights by backing up until they attacked and then hitting them right after. Sometimes they’d block, sometimes I’d die, but often I’d slice a limb off and win the round. There are sequences to learn, but I honestly feel that they’re too complicated an unresponsive for what they are when there are so many buttons they could be mapped to. Combat feels clunky, when it should be graceful and fluid.

Undoubtedly, there’s a level of nuance here if you’re looking for it, and played against human beings who can also backstep and counter right back at you, you’ll need to go a little deeper with your strategy. This is where you’ll need to make use of combos, evades, the aforementioned sequences, and a parry button that elaborates on the auto-block you get when you match your opponent’s stance.

Die by the Blade

Abilities and styles come down to the weapon you choose, not the character, which is an odd choice that means you may as well just stick with Ronin or Butterfly from the start. There are stats attached to each but the difference they make is negligible. The five weapons, too, are all variations of samurai swords like a Katana and a Nodachi, but unlocking them takes a long time unless you’re regularly winning matches.

Die by the Blade is pretty sparse when it comes to most elements, even for a cheaper title. A small spread of characters, weapons, arenas, and cosmetics isn’t enough to keep you coming back, and the combat, while the best part by far, is by its nature incredibly one-note. The most fun you’ll get out of it is by playing with your friends, but unless you’re super competitive you probably won’t play for long. XP and money you earn goes towards unlocking extra modes outside of Tournament, Versus, and Practice, but everything takes so long because the rewards are so paltry.

Die by the Blade

Aesthetically it’s a bit bland in almost every way. The characters are boring, even when you start unlocking cosmetics, and the environments, while certainly detailed and well-designed, are nothing but backdrops – and there simply isn’t enough of them to stave off boredom.

I can see what Grindstone was trying to do, and hats off for attempting to dilute one-on-one fighting to its simplest form in a timeline where we have unbelievably deep and complex fighters like Street Fighter 6, or Soul Calibur, but unfortunately Die by the Blade simply comes up short. It’s dull, bland, not very good-looking and paper thin in terms of content, and no matter how good the combat can sometimes be with the right people at the right moment, it’s not enough to salvage the rest of the package.


Some good ideas
Could be fun with friends


Graphically poor
Combat can feel clunky
Content light

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Die by the Blade has a few good ideas in its sheathe, but ultimately it fails to generate any genuine excitement.