Thursday, May 16

Review: Akane [Nintendo Switch eShop]


As I’ve said many times before, having pretty well grown up in the arcades I’m a huge fan of games that are intense and can be played in bite-sized sessions. I don’t always need a complex story, deep characters, and all sorts of extended content, some quick and even frustrating sessions of a few minutes are a terrific palette cleanser. Removing those value added elements though means what remains needs to be tight, smart, and challenging without feeling unfair. For a low-budget asking price Akane pretty well ticks all of these boxes in the form of a smart top-down slasher, and it may not have a ton of content but it features gameplay I would easily have pumped more quarters into than its asking price back in the day.


Though mechanically everything is pretty simple you’ll need to hit the Tutorial to get the full rundown, especially for doing things like deflecting bullets and using your charged abilities effectively. After running through that pretty quickly you’re armed with everything you’ll need to know and can get down to the business of killing. You’re able to slash or deflect bullets with your katana, dash, shoot your gun which has limited ammo, and perform either a straight-line slash with a minor power bar or a screen-clearing slashing attack if you’re working with a full bar.


If that’s all there was you could probably enjoy trying to get as far as possible old school style, but what steps things up nicely are the objectives you’ll be pushed to complete. These vary quite a bit but tend to be hyper-focused on how well you use a specific skill or attack. They involve killing a certain number of enemies with your katana without any misses, shooting a large number of enemies, or getting your combo meter up to a certain number among other things. By completing these in between games you’ll gain new options for gear you can wear, which then will grant you some variations on your original gear and unlock a new objective then allowing you to get more. These don’t radically change the core play but they affect just enough to give the game a different flow with each new skill and total combination.


If you’re determined to pick at it the biggest flaw is simply that there’s not much to it in the end. You’re only ever in the one locale, whose basics layout is set in stone. There are only a few types of enemies you’ll ever face, roughly a handful, so you’re not going to see any new surprises on that front after a while. There’s also no global leaderboard for you to compare runs with other people, though given the objective-based play as a focus for once I’m not sure that’s as big a deal since I found trying to unlock new gear more compelling than purely focusing on staying alive for score.


In conclusion if you appreciate great pick-up-and-put-down play sessions that are intense and keep you coming back for more Akane may be a great match. For the most part the objectives feel like they’re in a sweet spot where they’ll push you to complete them but they also aren’t unobtainable by any means. While I wouldn’t call this a roguelike there are some similar principles at play that I appreciate with the ability to change up your gear in order to alter how the game plays in small but meaningful ways. For the right audience this is absolutely a budget title you won’t want to miss.

Score: 8

Pros:
  • Smart and tight controls
  • Completing varied objectives will unlock new gear that then alters the way you play
  • Its very low-budget price makes it a steal for old school arcade action fans

Cons:
  • In terms of assets, enemy types, etc the game doesn’t have much content, so the less aligned you are with classic arcade-style games the more unimpressed you may be
  • If you were hoping to match up with friends or strangers and compete on global leaderboards you’ll be disappointed