The game I’m going to talk about today is Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae. It’s a 2014 PC indie game that was just recently re-released on PS4. There’s no actual upgrades to it, it’s just available on console, which is pretty sweet. It’s $12 which is two dollars more than the prices you can find it for on PC for some reason, but aside from that it’s the same game.
Developed by: Zenith Blue
Published by: AGM PLAYISM
Release date: Mar 10, 2014
Platforms: PS4, PC (Reviewed on PS4)
Launch Price: 11.99 USD
So about the game itself, it’s a battle arena game ala Bloody Palace mode in DMC4. It is almost exactly the same with a big circular stage, the player character vs several waves of enemies, and every several waves, a boss. It ends after 5 stages and one final boss stage, so it’s quite short but further difficulty modes keep it worth playing for a bit.
At first the combat system is quite fun. You unlock a decently sized moveset, about 8 different main combat abilities, which is maybe as big as a single weapon in DMC3 or 4 in sword master. You have melee or sword attacks in this game. Melee, mapped to Square, has a regular ground combo, a sweep attack that both breaks guard and can be used while you’re getting hit to break out of hitstun, which absolutely becomes necessary in higher difficulties, a launcher kick, and a dive kick from the air. For the sword, mapped to Triangle, you have your regular sword combo, dashing sword combo, a modified sword combo if you hold R1, and an air combo. This game has a “sword meter” and any attacks that use the sword use up this meter. If you don’t have enough of that meter to do an attack, then it won’t come out. However, all melee attacks build sword meter, so the idea is to use them in tandem to be most effective. Sword attacks tend to be the most powerful but have limited utility, while melee attacks tend to be a bit quicker, have more variety of applications, and build sword meter but are much weaker. It provides a nice balance and gives you reason to use all of her abilities, though I don’t really feel the meter is very necessary, EXCEPT to limit the other type of attack you have, the “holy techniques” as they are called. These are basically super moves, mapped to Circle. They consume large amounts of meter but are very powerful, though they take time to charge. When you hold circle, the character takes a stance and begins charging power up to two levels. The first level charges fairly quick but the second one takes very long. However, if you press R1 while holding Circle, you can expend meter to instantly charge one level, so if you press it twice you can charge instantly but at the cost of a huge chunk of meter. So early on, you may find using melee necessary to recover from this.
Next is the R2 Zanshin attack. When you keep attacking enemies, after taking enough damage they enter “bleeding” state. They get stunned momentarily and glow red when this happens. In this state enemies are weakened and can be juggled or kept locked in hitstun. Additionally, if you press R2 while they are in this mode, they will take damage relative to a “zeal” meter, which is built up by attacking enemies and not taking damage. The higher the zeal meter is, the more damage a bleeding enemy takes from the R2 attack. Additionally, as you attack enemies, ANOTHER meter called bloodspirit that physically appears as glowing red rings on your sword builds up. If you use R2 while that’s built up, you’ll restore a relative amount of both Health AND sword meter.
The thing is, using those Holy techniques on their own can also build bloodspirit, so that means that you can launch a holy technique, using R1 to speed them up, and the resulting damage the enemy takes will generally build up your blood spirit enough so that when you use R2, you’ll get all of your meter back, AND THEN SOME. This means that higher level play devolves into almost entirely spamming the holy techniques. Almost.
In addition to those attack abilities, you have 4 defensive options, Guard, Just Guard, Dodge, and Flourish. Guarding with L2 blocks any normal attacks but there are also guard break attacks that make you drop guard, though still don’t deal damage, and unblockable attacks that will always cause damage. Just Guarding, or pressing Guard at the last moments before an attack hits allows you to guard literally any attack in the game provided you can time it well. Additionally, once you have the skill, you can press Triangle after a Just Guard to get a counter that knocks enemies away. If you press the Guard button while holding a direction, or tap a direction while holding guard, you’ll get a dodge. It has some very limited invincibility and is generally used to just completely avoid attacks. Lastly you have Flourish which is a counter-attack slash executed by pressing Circle just before any attack makes contact with you. It’s similar to Just Guard, but the timing is much tighter, and the trade off is MUCH higher damage than literally any other attack in the game, even the super attacks.
So far so good, and on Easy, Normal, and Hard especially you find a use for all your skills and there’s options available to you for most situations and enemies, and it’s quite a lot of fun.
This all falls apart on the next two difficulties, Very Hard and Inferno. Very hard increases the enemy density, aggressiveness, and damage so much that using normal sword combos tends to just be dangerous as too many enemies can attack form outside of your range or won’t get stunned from basic attacks. You’ll probably still use the sweep to escape if you mess up but outside of that, this means combat devolves into kiting enemies into a huge group and then spamming holy techniques until they die. Effective, safe, but boring as hell. Luckily, the boss fights stay somewhat fun while being challenging because there’s still only ever one boss and their attack patterns don’t change at all, they just get stronger. Still, because they are so much stronger, you start to realize how ineffective normal attacks are for most purposes, and that you basically only need super attacks, Just Guard, Dodge, and Flourish. Boss fights on Very hard just became about learning how to counter with Flourish, maximize damage when they bleed, and trying to avoid taking any hits. It’s still pretty fun actually, but very limited.
The last difficulty, inferno, keeps enemies being super aggressive and dense in formation, but makes them have much lower life, and makes you die in one hit to anything. So yeah, this mode can either go quick or take a really long time because any minor error means starting over. This just exacerbates the fact that holy techniques are the only useful attacks for the most part, and makes melee completely unnecessary. Also bosses still take very little damage, but again, since they’re alone and their attack patterns unchanged, they’re not that bad actually.
There’s also an upgrade system, which is really just to let you learn the techniques in bits and pieces, extra costumes, a really really simple throw away story, some not very good music, some really beautiful character models, lots of panty shots if that’s your thing, some pretty sweet animations, surprisingly, certainly better than I’d ever expect from a game made by 3 people, and I mean, overall it is pretty fun even if you can see how it falls apart on higher difficulties. The final boss fights at least were pretty damn fun every time.
Thing is, I can see past it’s admittedly low production values and how short it is, but the fact that the system falls apart the more you play it is pretty disappointing. I think I would still recommend it to people who like these kinds of games and want something new to play, but it’s not something you HAVE to experience. If you’re not a fan of character action games, then this definitely won’t convert you. Just don’t forget this is a $10-$12 dollar game made by 3 people and the quality matches that both in the good and bad.
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