Inspired by the likes of Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, and God of War, first time developer Zenith Blue were able to create a fun fast paced combat system in a game that lacks even a slight portion of these inspirations. From the rushed story to the empty-feeling locations, Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae isn’t able to elaborate further and turns into nothing more than a repetitive wave based arena, and that’s a shame because it does have a few strong merits.
Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae‘s gameplay is simple; you have to defeat enemies in waves until a boss appears at the end of the level. Repetition plays a part in the beginning of the game with limited moves to choose from, but as you progress and gain experience, the new moves you can unlock make the game more interesting. The combinations you can do and the fast paced nature of the game’s combat is thrilling, especially during a boss. The enemies repeat often, and sometimes the waves that the game makes you go through seem way too long and stretched thin. But when you’re into the action, Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae is close to the games it is inspired by.
The bosses are the greatest plus about the game. They demand strategy, keen hand-eye co-ordination skills, and reflexes. They’re not as tough as the Souls games, but each one provides a fun twist on the repetitive formula of the levels. Each stage does change it up with the enemy types, as well. Sure, they outstay their welcome, but with every stage, there comes a new element of strategy that has to be used.
Another way that the developers were able to reduce tedium within a tedious game structure is the upgrade system. It doesn’t change up the action game formula at all, but it’s great to have the character gradually get stronger with her moves and gain new attacks. There isn’t a huge variety in moves, but there’s enough there to keep you going until the end of the 1-2 hour playthrough.
That’s a big issue, though: The 1-2 hour playthrough. It’s very short and lacks in content. If you’re a player who loves to replay missions at higher difficulties and gain a new costume from doing so, you can get a few more hours, but overall the package is slim with a hilariously rushed story. They ramp up this connection between two best friends (Misa and Suzuka) with one losing herself to a cursed blade. That could be interesting. Having to take down your best friend to save the world from chaos? There’s a lot of drama that can come from that.
However, the story falls flat and you don’t get that connection between the characters at all. It doesn’t seem like the developers cared that much about the writing as (highlight to show spoilers) when you defeat her, Suzuka falls to the ground and you get a slight pan down of Misa and then the word CLEAR flashes on the screen. I was hysterical. There’s no sense of drama, and that is a wasted opportunity with this game. The focus on the action-style gameplay is what is important in Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae, so this can be forgiven.
It’s difficult to compare this to games like God of War, Ninja Gaiden, or Devil May Cry because this is developed by an independent studio, and there are some issues with the game that make this instance evident. First is the sound design. The Japanese voice acting during cutscenes is great overall, but during battle, Misa constantly makes exaggerated grunting, bellowing, and crying noises that grow irritating fast. When making a standard combo, she’ll do the same routine of noises over and over again, and when knocked back, she will cry out over and over again with an annoying high pitch. The enemies? They make the same battle noises when hit, too. The music, in addition, is as generic as it can get with a bland rock and percussion backing.
The sign of a great action game is when you have a kick ass theme song to keep you going. Think of God of War‘s choral backed tracks, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengence‘s heavy metal and techno hybrid to name a few. The stages themselves aren’t as interesting either. The surroundings of each stage are static and, except for the last two stages, the low textured environments are boring to look at.
Despite the aforementioned, the character models and the effects from fighting (particle effects, glows from swords, etc) look detailed. The particle effects from each slash and the glow from Misa’s special attacks look great, and the character models are well detailed with its anime-aesthetic among the low-textured environments.
Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae provides a great action game with high speed combat and bosses, but everything surrounding it such as the length, the story, and the sound design let it down.
A PS4 code for Mitsuguri Kamui Hikae was provided by Playism for the purpose of this review.
Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae$11.99
- Fast, frenetic, and fun combat system.
- Strategic bosses.
- Detailed character models.
- Inclusion of battle effects (particle effects, glows, etc).
- Upgradable moves and unlockable abilities.
- Repetitive in nature.
- Empty story.
- Irritating sound design.
- Generic music.
- Short length of the game.
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