Waves of mutilation.
From a distance, Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae looks pretty generic. Animations are simple, character models are bland, and the environments simple and barren. However, what is under the hood is what counts, and the team at Zenith Blue has crafted a combat system that is addictive and fun to learn. Horde modes are not uncommon in video games, but one that succeeds with melee combat is certainly not the norm.
Mitsurugi never attempts to be anything other than a wave-based brawler. The mechanics are straight-forward, and every action is delivered with a purpose. Players are tasked with taking on a series of waves, which progressively increase in difficulty. Enemies begun to block and parry more, larger enemies take more damage or alternate methods to take down.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $11.99
Skill points are acquired for defeating enemies, and thus can be used to unlock new moves and skills. These skills are imperative to take down some enemies. The flow of new techniques is just enough to master each one. The pacing of the combat is sublime. The team has nailed that loop of fun few games focusing on one aspect rarely achieve. I found myself addicted. I didn’t care that enemies were boring and repetitive, I just wanted to learn new combos, and keep my multiplier going for as long as I could.
Combat is pretty standard with attacks, but there is also a blade gauge to keep track of. This slowly fills up as I dealt out blows to enemies. This meter allowed me to unleash massive blade attacks. There is also a move that can replenish health and blade meter. I won’t bother trying to pronounce (or even spell it) but pulling on the trigger will drain energy from enemies, and can even be part of a combo. It is extremely satisfying to execute, much like the rest of the combat in the game.
There are several difficulties to play on, and thankfully progress is saved regularly. I enjoyed breezing through the easy mode to earn my skill points, thus allowing me to tackle the harder difficulties with my improved skill set. It remains addictive, and the learning curve is just right for those dedicated to learning how it all works. I can’t stress enough how much the team nailed the ebb and flow of combat. It is the one thing holding this release together.
If there is one hiccup along the way, it is the camera. It is extremely sporadic at times, causing me to lose which enemy I was attacking, especially during charge moves. The lock-on mechanic works well enough, but there were definitely times where I was simply swinging at air.
Visually the game is a bore. The character and level designs are bland, although the game does run extremely well. Even with multiple enemies flooding the screen, the action never misses a beat. The music is a drab loop of stock-sounding tunes, while some of the sound effects are downright atrocious. Thankfully the game play more than makes up for any of its shortcomings.
With a cheap price tag and bland visuals, this is an easy title to ignore. However, for anyone who enjoys character actions games with deep, engaging combat, I cannot recommend it enough. I found myself tearing through repetitive wave after wave because of how much fun the combat is. What it lacks in presentation, it more than makes up for with game play.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.