Switch version tested
Review code provided
Insane in the Akane, insane in the brain
Combine a samurai-wielding female protagonist with a one-hit one-kill game mechanic, chuck the two into an arena and you have the basis of Akane. A recent release by publishers QubicGames, this brutal blood sport sees you face off against a variety of enemies who, for reasons unbeknown to the player, are out to get you.
Initially armed with a samurai sword and a pistol, the game starts with you surrounded by four future victims. A few swift swipes of the sword sees them left bleeding out in the arena, with another wave soon to follow. Each kill adds another notch on the scoresheet, with combo kills recorded for future reward.
As the game progresses, indicated by your killstreak, the enemies get more and more challenging. There are 5 enemy types, as indicated by the excerpt from the eShop listing below:
• Yakuza Guy – a common mafia pawn
• Tank – this is the only villain that will require more than just one katana slash to die
• Shooter – a sharpshooter with cybernetic enhancements. Pro tip: they never miss
• Cyber Ninja – a warrior who abdicated his body to become a killing machine. His dash attacks are deadly and his defense seems impenetrable. Remember however that everybody has their weak point
• The Boss – Katsuro, your Nemesis who evolves, gets stronger and more dangerous according to the number of times he gets killed.
To support you in your quest to own the arena, there are objectives which are shared at the beginning of the playthrough and when paused. Meeting these objectives unlocks gear that can be used in future playthroughs to increase your chances of success. At £4.49 on the UK eShop, the premise of this game is perfectly suited to such a low price point and seemed destined for success.
Unfortunately, beautifully pixelated arena and pumping soundtrack aside, this game quickly becomes one that will alienate itself from the masses. Described as a ‘brutal arcade arena slasher’, there has never been a stronger emphasis on a word than on ‘brutal’. This game is devilishly hard, and whilst it is largely appealing in the interim, it’s longevity is questionable.
Break the Akane
The reason for its level of challenge is in the objectives that are set. Ranging from the need to achieve a large kill combo, to killing 10 enemies you deflecting bullets in one game, I often found that the objectives hindered my progress rather than enhanced my chances. With such difficult objectives, achieving them and unlocking new gear didn’t occur often enough.
My other critique is one that, whilst small, reaffirmed my belief that this game is a little too repetitive for my liking. The fact that there is only one arena meant that everything was much the same in each playthrough, and with death occurring rather often, it all becomes a little lacklustre and dull.
For the game to be more accessible, I would have liked to have seen a difficulty option. An ‘easy’ mode could quite simply have been a way to provide more achievable objectives, or made changes to the AI to make them easier to defeat. Now, the age old debate of changing a game’s difficulty will never go away, nor be solved, but for the game to reach a wider audience, I believe it is needed here.
For the money, Akane provides a short but challenging affair of brutal blood sport. It will appeal to some, and infuriate others, and I will leave it to you to determine in which camp you will sit. For me personally, I thought the inception was class but the execution less so. We have seen in recent months how successful games under £5 can be, and now it is not just enough to place your game in that category. With competition high, I think there are a number of alternative titles at a similar price to purchase before this one.
TBG Score: 5/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 17/05/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Arcade, Fighting
Developer: Ludic Studios
Download link: eShop