Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae

Samurai Schoolgirl Braaaaawler!!!

UPDATE: The game is now available for PS4!

CONSOLE IMPRESSIONS

Well what can I say? The game feels a lot smoother, but it is basically the same game as the PC version. The color palette is still limtied, there are missing sound clips and the story is still quite short and simple. I did notice the difficulty can get really tough at times, as enemies have very strange patterns and their startup animations are so fast you can barely tell how to avoid or block their attacks. However, bosses can become trivial once you memorize their moves, it turns from a really hard encounter to messing around with a robot.

Any who! The game is quite fun, and all things considered it's very decent for it's price. Go enjoy this action game with school uniforms + samurai!

PC Original Review

The kind folks at PLAYISM have been working hard on making Japanese indie games popular and bringing them on Steam. One of their great developers, Zenith Blue, have been creating their first title “Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae”, and has made an impact to all fans of the beat ‘em ups genre and/or anime action based games overall. Many games from this part of the industry have been quite successful, say the DMC games, Killer is Dead, MGR: Revengeance or Bayonetta, these all have peculiar ways of rolling around the fighting mechanics while offering a developed plot. Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae brings these ingredients in a simple yet efficient manner, their devs even state that “This combination has been done so many times in manga and anime but it’s not something you see much in games.” And “This game was created from a desire to enjoy an action game with that classic schoolgirl sword combination as its core.” So if you’re into this type of mix, this is the game for you!

For this genre, story is very straightforward and introduced to the player via a simple cutscene in the beginning of each campaign. You play as a dark hair schoolgirl, Misa, who happens to also be a badass samurai warrior. Your mission is to save your blonde friend, Suzuka, from being manipulated by her demon sword, at any cost. The protagonist isn’t exactly a young girl, as she demonstrates quite the strong character yet with a deep passion for good. Her possessed friend is of course rough on the edges, as she taunts and makes fun of you while ignoring all attempts to convince her to drop her demon sword, it is a struggle for who’s will is the strongest.

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Moving on to gameplay. It is highly recommended to use a controller and play the tutorial, as checking how the buttons are mapped helps in going through the tutorial goals. Learning what each button does will save you a lot of time and effort for when you start the campaign. There are many features and mechanics that complete combat aspect of the game. Explaining each one is more suitable for new gamers trying it out:

1) Zanshin: Regular sword slash attacks, each consecutive strikes and landed combos will reward you for health regen (if the enemies drop the life orbs), katana gauge recovery and damage to enemies in a “bleeding” state.

2) Bleeding Status: After many strikes, enemies get highlighted in red, becoming vulnerable to more hits and stun locking them before they recover or until they are defeated. Zanshin blows are highly effective against them (the sheathing sword animation blow with Right Trigger).

3) Bloodspirits: These are red rings that appear on your sword as you defeat enemies. The more you obtain the more health and katana gauge regen you gain.

4) Katana Gauge: Basically a combo meter, you can fill it up with hand-to-hand (melee) or Zanshin and then using Zangeki slash attacks (the regular Y attacks) will consume it. Be wary that if this meter is empty, you can’t use your sword attacks.

5) Holy Technique: By holding the B button on a gamepad, you will charge a super high speed slash or multiple slash attacks. The charge can take a while so if you’re in a hurry and surrounded by enemies you can spend you Katana gauge to hasten it by pressing the Release button (RS) while holding B. This saves up your combo hits and keeps the game in a fast pace.

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These features are highlighted quite well on your HUD. A simple life bar and below it the Katana gauge. To their left is a symbol called the Zeal. As you land consecutive combos the Zeal’s blades will glow red, allowing you to deal more damage to bleeding enemies and obtain more SP. The SP are basically the points you get depending on how well you manage your fights, each enemy dropping this currency, you can spend it at your Upgrades tab while pausing the game. The Upgrades are called Skill. Here you can spend your SP on a wide variety of attacks. You can improve the attack power of your Zangeki, Hand-to-hand melee combat, improve health, Katana and energy recovery, or even learn new moves! You can learn sweep attacks, launchers for aerial combos, counters, or sonic slash which allows you to keep on a target faster and maintain a hit combo. Of course this game has a lot of anime in it, so expect inappropriate amounts of panty shots. Enemies and bosses. Some are generic suited guys swords, tougher guys are giant robots or primitive variants. You can of course play defensively, as the game allows you to block strikes and then counter if parried correctly, or evade heavy attacks by rolling away. Bosses work in the way were you need to strike and step away, learn their patterns and then mash a combo as soon as they get the bleeding status.

After a while you’ll notice that the combat will become pretty much the same and will only vary on attack animations or more aggressiveness by the AI. As long as you slash and combo everyone you should be okay. It would have been interesting if the game offered some type of variety to the gameplay and not just arena showdowns.

The graphics in the game are very decent. As an art proposal, the typical contrast between protagonist and antagonist limited by hairstyle and color might be a bit simple. Color palette on environments and arena is very classic and expected, there isn’t anything out of the ordinary in this aspect due to making the slashes and action be the center of attention, as well as the characters. Lightning and illumination is a bit bland, but at a fast pace you won’t even notice I suppose.

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The OST brings the anime fan in you out to the battle. As the action themes will hasten your gameplay style and make you mash buttons even if you’re new to the genre. Unfortunately the mix isn’t well balanced as the sound FXs get obscure the music. You can always re-mix it in the options nonetheless or keep it that way if it isn’t of any annoyance.

Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae truly brings a punch to the genre and steps up when mixing popular ingredients to a new bowl of the gaming industry. With enormous amounts of potential yet with too much security it lacks the special touches a beat ‘em ups should offer. Hopefully its design can last longer and can be re-thinked to become a candidate to best indie beat ‘em ups on Steam.

3

In Short

  • + Great fast-paced and well thought-out combat mechanics!
    + Anime action put to the test with great controller responsiveness
    + Appropriate yet simple art proposal

  • - Repetitive gameplay and enemies
    - Simple design for the OST

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