If you watched samurai movies more than once in your life, you might have noticed how their fight scenes are different than those in European or American movies. While Western movies tend to go flashy and attractive, samurai movies like to exemplify the brutal efficiency of their protagonists. Samurai fights tend to be decided in a single second, often even in a single stroke.
Instead of trading blows. The tension in these movies is in the build-up, in which the fighters are positioning and getting ready before they explode with speed, power, and the precision. This game captures that feeling of tension before the deadly strike.
This graphically frugal but nonetheless good-looking game puts you in a role of a lone swordsman in a picturesque rendering of feudal Japan. You have to defeat the waves of incoming enemies by using four simple moves. You have a single attack button which can be mashed for combos, although limited stamina prevents spamming. You also have a block button so that you can fend off the attacks with, and dodge button which gives you the ability to roll away from enemy swipes. Finally, there is a red button which appears when you build up your rage meter. By pressing that button you go into the indestructible mode, with the black and white filter for increased samurai movie feeling.
But, master of these simple moves is secondary compared to the importance of distance and timing. For example, if you time your attack in the right moment, like immediately after a failed enemy attack, you could easily kill your opponent in a single strike. All of this contributes to the feeling of a Samurai movie, despite the fact that fights do become repetitive fairly quickly. The variation isn’t present that much, coming in form of a palette swap when you move to a new level.
However, the game is really beautiful, and the combat and the combat animation is very smooth too. It is very easy to establish a combat routine, which could lead to a dull feeling. We quickly found out that kiting your opponents in order to separate them, then rolling towards one of them and for loving it up with a flurry of attacks is an approach that always works.
This game is basically a simple hack and slash, with a faithful focus on the unique rhythm or samurai combat. Too bad that the game structure doesn’t have the similar level of innovation.