Review: Samurai Way of the Warrior in all its gory glory
Blood and gore have been relatively sticky subjects when it comes to the iTunes store, and honestly, Apple’s earlier policy of changing red blood into green met with mixed results. With Samurai: Way of the Warrior, I have to thank the Apple reviewers for leaving this game in all of its gory glory (say that fast 5 times). This game is simply one of the best intelligent hack-and-slash games to date when it comes to originality and pure entertainment value.
The game has a storyline that is well incorporated throughout presented in comic book style cut scenes that honestly conveys a strong sense of adventure and bloodletting. That may sound strange, but you won’t be shortchanged when it comes to hacking and slashing. You control the fate of Daisuke Shimada, the wandering samurai as he ventures through the countryside dealing with the villainous Lord Hattoro and his two henchmen Kumo and Orochi. Of course, they have a significant army to carry out their misdeeds, and let’s just say that Daisuke doesn’t take too kindly to village bullies.
Hack and slash is the name of the game, and you’ll be doing plenty of that. Samurai has two game modes: Story and Dojo. Story mode consists of 7 chapters and variety of different enemies presented like a short novel or Japanese DVD. Dojo mode is a survival mode where Daisuke battles fellow hack and slashers in a ring for as long as possible.
The art style is among the best you’ll come across in a game of this nature. The 3D textures and graphics really pop as you explore the different environments with a definite Japanese feel. Combined with the melodic Japanese soundtrack, and this game exudes the charm of the Far East.
To move Daisuke, tap on a specific location, and he will move there with full 360 degree movement. The game also uses swipe controls to initiate specific sword maneuvers, and after playing this, I couldn’t imagine this game without swipe controls. If any game is suited to swipe controls, Samurai is the perfect candidate. Through specific swipe motions, any one of 9 Samurai sword skills with names such ass Blood Bath, Cloud Cutting, Burning Blade, and Half Moon are initiated. Others are unlocked based on progress through the chapters, and the visuals are something to watch. The sword movements are quite different, inflict different levels of damage, and can be used in unison for combo attacks which inflict maximum damage.
Speaking of damage, what Samurai does best is illustrate that damage. Literally, enemies are sliced and diced into pieces, and if you’re good enough, beheadings are in your future as well. And the blood splatter both in the environments and across your device screen is artfully done. On top of that, the bodies remain where they are and don’t disappear as in other games. People who are sensitive to blood may want to play this on an empty stomach.
The game is played in portrait mode which plays fine, but a landscape option would be a nice addition. The gameplay starts off relatively easy as you hone your skills. Daisuke’s healthbar is replenished as he defeats enemies and unlocks gates. Each chapter involves several locked gates that can only be unlocked once all the enemies are cleared from that area. The intelligent part of the game is that you’re not simply presented with enemies to attack and defend against. In most cases, you have to walk around and search them out before you can unlock gates. Enemies become more skilled and more evasive as you progress through the chapters, and the ability to use combos will be essential to survival. A nice touch is that as enemies are wounded, blood appears, although this also happens to Daisuke. A good strategy is to be on the offensive whenever possible and stay away from gang fights. Venturing around the different environments is an added bonus because you won’t know where you’ll wind up.
Dojo Mode is worth discussing because it’s really a completely different game from the story chapters. In some ways, it’s similar to Jean-Claude Van Dame in Lionheart where he fights different opponents in a makeshift ring. A slight hitch for Daisuke is that his healthbar doesn’t replenish until he defeats the boss which occurs at every 4 stages. Again, sliced up opponents remain in the ring until the stage is cleared, and the boss fights are brutally tough.
Samurai: Way of the Warrior has to be one of the surprises in the iTunes store this year. It’s a terrifically well-designed, visually appealing game that I think will catch many off guard. This is one game I’ll look forward to seeing future updates.
Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (classy gory hack and slash that has a strong story and gameplay; controls are spot on and the visuals are top notch)