Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae: A Pleasant Surprise or Glorified Tech Demo?

It was on sale

I think it’s gotten to the point that I’m so starved for proper character-action/hack n’ slash goodness, that I instinctively jump at the slightest hint of some stylish combos.

Onechanbara and Ultra Age are one thing, but this time I believe I’ve reached the bottom of the barrel when it comes to this niche subgenre, on the Playstation 4 at least.

Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae, besides being quite a mouthful, is an indie budget hack n’ slash title consisting of 6 stages where you take on multiple waves of enemies in a small confined arena, with a boss fight at the end of each stage.

To put it bluntly, it’s a watered down DMC Bloody Palace mode if it were the entire game, and is about just as long.

With no actual levels to speak of and the “story” amounting to a basic plot synopsis, it’s up to the core gameplay to do the heavy lifting.

And well.. it’s actually not half bad.

Keep in mind, my expectations were tempered coming into this, so I naturally didn’t think it would reach Devil May Cry or even Onechanbara Origin levels of quality. But for a cheap 2–3 hour game, the combat’s decent.

It’s very limited, having only two basic combos, a single aerial attack and two specials. Some of the more unique mechanics put to use here though, help elevate the game beyond forgettable shovelware territory.

Smokin’ Sexy Style!!

As I mentioned, there are two full distinct combos you can pull off, each belonging to a different type.

You’ve got unarmed combat and sword combat.

Now, why would you use hand-to-hand combat when you’ve got a bloody katana? Well, besides adding more variety to your gameplay, it helps in filling up your katana gauge.

See, when you use any of your sword’s attacks, you drain some of the aforementioned katana gauge. Once it’s drained completely, you are unable to slish slash your way through enemies anymore.

You can fill that gauge back up by using unarmed strikes and with the Zanshin attack. When you deal enough damage to an enemy, they will start glowing red, indicating they’re in a bleeding state.

Once they enter that state, aside from becoming increasingly vulnerable, you are able to perform Zanshin on them, which deals immediate extra damage along with greatly filling up your katana gauge.

It’s a neat way to give the player a legit incentive to mix up combos, as the katana wields the more powerful attacks, while not being too strict about it that it risks ruining the gameplay flow.

I am the high school girl that is approaching

The Zanshin mechanic is also core to your character’s growing repertoire of moves and upgrades, as it allows you gain extra red SP orbs from enemies and bosses before their inevitable demise.

More crucially though, it is your prime tactic of obtaining green health orbs to help you out of a tight spot.

Similarly to red orbs, they can also drop normally from dead enemies, but their chances of appearing are greatly increased when using the Zanshin attack. With bosses it seems practically a guarantee to get some when you’re low on health in between their short bleeding states.

I’m always a fan of games that make healing a reward for playing skillfully and engaging with their mechanics, it’s much more interesting and challenging than stockpiling potions.

I know it’s likely due to limitations, but I praise its implementation nonetheless.

Lastly, we have bosses, which are.. fine, I guess?

The first two are fairly basic, they each only have three moves they cycle between, with one added when they’re near death.

That final boss though, I did not expect.

Suzuka is the other katana wielding high school girl who’s your obligatory rival character, and the game’s main antagonist.

There’s not much to say about her involvement in the plot, evil sword made her evil, must kill to stop evil because we don’t like evil.

The first fight you have against her in stage 3 is actually solid, as she has more than three moves, is fast, and contrasts your style pretty well.

It’s nothing great still, but it does the job and is much more engaging than the previous bosses.

But the final battle with her, that one’s a doozy.

Up until this point in the game I never actually learned how to guard.

Yeah, I know, sounds stupid, but I figured I’d learn the moveset on my own accord instead of bothering with the tutorial.

My arrogance proved me fatal, as Suzuka’s second stage of the fight has an attack that is pretty much impossible to avoid unless you perfect guard.

It’s a bunch of homing shots that rain down on you like a death shower, if you try to dodge or move out of the way, it follows you, and if you manage to avoid one, the other will get you. Even guarding normally has no effect, you have to perfectly time each block to sync up with every shot to get out unscathed.

I know not learning a core mechanic like guarding is on me, but I have been pulling through perfectly fine without it by relying solely on the dodge roll.

So having gotten to the final boss like that and then being suddenly forced to not just guard, but perfectly guard against a devastating attack seems a tad unreasonable to me.

Even those who actually went over the tutorial shouldn’t be expected to be masters of Just Guarding by the end of the game, as literally no other encounter beforehand requires its use.

I appreciate making the final boss challenging, but maybe don’t throw an unnecessarily punishing curve ball like that in order to achieve it.

The amount of enjoyment you’ll get from this game will depend heavily on what you’re expecting out of it.

It’s as simple and barebones as arena-based hack n’ slashes can get, but there’s definitely fun to be had here for die-hards of the genre such as myself.

It’s shallow, it’s repetitive, but it’s cheap and inoffensive.

If you see it on sale and you’ve got a couple of bucks to spare, there’s no harm in trying out some mindless short burst fun.

But if you’re looking for something more substantial and meaty, you’re probably better off with the bigger titles.

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Daniel Mossichuk

Just a dude who likes rambling about stuff he’s passionate about.