Stranger in a Strange Time and World
If you have been following my reviews for some time then you know a game could easily get my attention if it has anime-style visuals and an over-the-top setting. Samurai Maiden is a fine example of such a game as it hits all the right marks. It’s a hack’n slash game with a cheesy premise, what is there not to enjoy?
Samurai Maiden is one of those titles that has everything gamers love about the hack ‘n’ slash genre. It’s easy to get into, the action starts right away and it’s mindlessly fun. It has all the tropes and trademarks that have defined the genre. It has also made some mistakes that aren’t acceptable for the genre.
Welcome to the Sengoku Era
The story follows Tsumugi Tamaori, a student in modern Japan, who is mysteriously teleported to the Sengoku period (1467 to 1615). She awakens in a temple under attack by an undead army. She partners up with three other warriors (Iyo, Komimi, plus Hagane) and successfully fights them off. Following their success, they are greeted by Nobunaga Oda, the famed daimyō of the era, who gives them the task of venturing through the underworld and stopping a great evil.
With the help of Iyo, Komimi, and Hagane – players will venture through the underworld. They will defeat the forces of evil while building a bond with the team.
When it comes to the overall story, don’t expect much. It’s not supposed to be thought provoking to the point that it makes you want to explore yourself. It’s a hack ‘n’ slash in which you kill waves of undead samurais and other monsters. I’m not saying the story is bad, because it’s good in a cheesy manner. That cheese actually complements the overall games colorful world and the tone it has created.
Becoming a Warrior
From a visual perspective, I really do admire how Samurai Maiden makes use of its colorful world. This is made possible with the anime style cell shades. This design choice allows the colors to pop while giving the experience a more upbeat feeling.
Samurai Maiden puts players into the action from the very start (with some easy-to-follow guides). Combat is easy to understand and requires no time in mastering. At the same time; you can use your squad’s special abilities to either overcome a challenge or trim down the enemy forces. This works to its advantage as the game wants the player to get into the action from the very start. Your character is armed with a katana that she uses to slice and dice waves of undead warriors (what is there not to like).
In each stage; players will work with their squad to defeat waves of enemies and then fight the final boss. After each level; you get inga (games currency) while also boosting your relationship with each teammate. Players can use the inga to upgrade their own or squadmates’ gear. Building a bond with each character allows players to unlock new skills and moves that can be used in combat.
Finally, I have to commend the Samurai Maiden on its rich replay value. The game does everything possible to make players come back for more. Be it unlockable content, better gear, new outfits, or because you want to do better than last time.
Trapped in the Underworld
Samurai Maiden has all the hallmarks of a fun hack’n slash game but it also falls short in all the wrong ways. The most obvious of these issues is the sluggish combat and the dumb response of your allies. Also one can’t overlook the boring level design and layout.
Jank and sluggish combat is not always bad but it depends on the type of game. For a hack’n slash experience, combat absolutely needs to be fluid and responsive. Controlling Tamaori has no issues, in combat it all changes. Fighting enemies feels like cutting through frozen butter with a cold-tipped knife. In combat overall, she can be unresponsive to your command or slow to respond. Not great for a game in which fast pace combat is key to the fun.
Not helping is how your allies don’t respond properly when commanding them to do something. Sometimes they can do the job other times they fumble with simple tasks. Plus when you have them unleash their special attack, aiming seems to be a suggestion at times. I say this as they have unleashed their attack on nobody (while you are getting pummeled).
Finally, I come to the boring level design and layouts. The game is visually mesmerizing with its colorful visuals but the levels fail to capitalize on this. Instead, you have some boring designed levels that get repetitive very quickly.
True Test of Friendship
The shortcomings are ones that a gamer will have to decide if they are going to overlook. Overall; Samurai Maiden is one of those titles that has everything fans love about the hack ‘n’ slash genre. It’s a cheesy anime style game but in a fun manner.
Samurai Maiden is a fun but also flawed hack’n slash that embraces all the beloved anime tropes. On one hand, it’s a fun over the top game with mesmerizing visuals. On the other hand, it has flaws that should not exist in such a game.
Disclaimer: One PR provided the game used in this review.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Samurai Maiden (PC)
- Easy to learn gameplay mechanics and mindlessly fun.
- Visuals are stunning and colorful in all the right ways.
- Rich in replay value.
- Combat is incredibly sluggish for the player.
- Boring level design and layout that fails to capitalize on visuals or setting.
- Allies don't respond properly when commanding them to do something.