Proxy Blade Zero is a good freeware game masquerading as a commercial release. If it was free, I would have played it for an hour, taken note of the flaws, uninstalled and moved on with my life. But seeing as the developer wants money for what is in essence an extremely bare bones product, I feel it my prerogative to write a (negative) review.
You're a robot, or a guy in a robot suit, who fights through generic Tron-esque environments, using a very limited range of moves, without any opportunity whatsoever for upgrading or diversifying gameplay. There is virtually no depth to the gameplay -- you move from room to room, facing the exact same robot enemies, only paired up in different combinations. Fighting is done using a never-changing and very limited arsenal of moves, beginning to end.
At the core of the fighting mechanics is the parry move. This means blocking the enemy's attack and then responding with your own. Unfortunately parry is completely broken. Why? Because you can only parry one enemy at a time; parry lasts a pre-determined amount of time, meaning it cannot be stopped mid-move; the latter means you have to wait for the parry animation to finish before you can do anything; once parry finishes, there is a slight pause during which you cannot do anything, meaning if you parry one robot, its buddy will likely kill you in short order.
You can attack while holding the boost button, which means you're able to do more damage and attack more than one bot at a time. Unfortunately this boost feature uses a (albeit rechargeable) battery. What this amounts to is attacking, running away to recharge, then attacking, rinse and repeat.
Using normal attack will likely get you killed very quickly, as most of the time your strikes will only hit one enemy at a time, while that enemy's buddies pound on you soon after. (This is in addition to there being NO EVADE BUTTON.) You can also get stuck on enemies making for huge frustration.
In a game that is entirely built around melee fighting it is weird how inconsistent, mechanical and limited the fighting system is. Every attack has a stop-start-stop sequence to it. There is no flow to the action and it never feels biological. This is in addition to striking distance being hard to judge and hit detection being a bit iffy.
I've been playing the melee-based Phantasy Star On-line clone, Divine Souls, and that game puts you in very much the same situations as this one -- you enter a room and fight enemies using a melee weapon. After defeating those enemies you move on to the next room, where more enemies spawn to test your mettle. Divine Souls however has a great sense of fluidity to its combat. It's fast, smooth, flowing, and above all fun. Proxy Blade Zero's combat is none of these things.
Should we even mention the aesthetics? The environments are simplistic, drab, low-polygon boxes and completely bare of furnishings, interesting lighting or textures. As I've mentioned before, the whole thing looks like a low-rent Tron knock-off.
There is no indication of a story. No NPCs. Nothing.
On top of it all you have an awful camera regularly blocking the action.
I started off this review by calling this a "good freeware game". Freeware games are however rated by different standards than commercial products. In that sense, Proxy Blade Zero reminds me of Nitronic Rush, another freeware game to feature Tron-like aesthetics and barebones gameplay, this time however a racing game. Nitronic Rush too suffers from not having its mechanics properly polished, and from the same general shallowness as Proxy Blade Zero. Having said that, Nitronic Rush is much further along to being a commercial-quality product.
Since I've been name-dropping other games, let me mention one more.
On Android there is a hack and slash title with virtually the same core concept and bare aesthetics as Proxy Blade Zero. That game is Fallen World. There is in my opinion no better example of how a shallow, simplistic concept can be layered with additional gameplay mechanics to create a deep, involving experience. Fallen World does that by adding, firstly, RPG mechanics in the form of an upgradeable hero -- purchase new moves and improve your attributes, secondly, several concepts from the tower defense genre, e.g. placing turrets and NPCs which have various functions and assist you in battle (and are all upgradeable), and thirdly, a STORY, also known as motivation for doing what you're doing.
Proxy Blade Zero will not go in my Awful Games folder (thus joining the likes of Slaughtering Grounds, Ampu-Tea, Times Ramesside, etc.). Instead it will go in my Unfullfilled Potential folder (thus joining the likes of Legends of Aethereus, Vox, Air Buccaneers, etc.). Still, I get the impression the dev is finished with this game. That would be a shame. I plan on keeping it installed for a couple of months and seeing if the dev plans on building a more involving experience from what amounts to little more than a prototype. In the mean time, I have too little time to waste on something which offers so little enjoyment.
I'll finish with this thought -- why isn't Proxy Blade Zero in Early Access?