Whereas it is unimaginable to have a look at Akane and never see the influences of some extra apparent cultural touchstones – the body-augmentation of Ghost within the Shell; the motorbike-riding revolt of Akira; the run-down futures of Blade Runner and 2000AD – if you begin slashing your katana and unloading bullet demise out of your pistol, you quickly realise this pixel artwork indie is extra Kill Invoice than the rest.

That is as a result of Akane just isn’t some sprawling RPG or open-ended Metroidvania journey; it is a Tarantino-esque story of survival, with a heroine who appears to be drawing her wardrobe between Main, the Bride and Leeloo from The Fifth Ingredient. A seemingly countless battle fought inside the confines of a single, neon-drenched area. Each swing of your blade and each bullet out of your gun is a one-hit kill, however that additionally means it solely takes one hit to take you down as effectively. Demise is barely ever a heartbeat away – for you and your foes.

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And enemies simply maintain coming. With a top-down perspective, your square-shaped area has doorways on all sides and your foes by no means cease pouring into the neighborhood, like a burly brawl of ultraviolence. Reasonably than letting its mechanics descend into the territory of a twin-stick shooter, Akane as an alternative opts for one thing a bit of extra refined. There is a small stamina bar beneath the titular heroine, and whereas it by no means actually will get in the way in which of your offence, it does cease you from spamming the strike button.

With regards to ranged assaults, you are additionally compelled to make use of them with restrictions. You possibly can solely fireplace your weapon when standing nonetheless, and you’ll’t shoot and slash on the identical time. Stopping to unleash a few salvos in the course of a crowd just isn’t advisable, however if you happen to break away from the pack, your gun of alternative can assist skinny the herd or skim a few of HP off a tank or a boss. You possibly can’t reload your gun manually both – as an alternative, you will must efficiently slay enemies together with your blade to refill your bullets. These concepts all faucet again into Akane’s central ethos: you’re at a drawback. Take care of it, and win anyway.

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Slaying enemies grow to be a rhythm of types as you adapt to the pace and behaviours of sure sorts. The problem is available in discovering the way to adapt that dance of demise when new opponents enter the fray. Your regular Yakuza will merely rush you and try and slash you to ribbons, whereas sharpshooters will stand nonetheless and nil in in your place with a well-timed shot. Tanks require multiple hit to kill, requiring you to time your strikes completely. The Cyber Ninja, as an illustration, is as quick as you’re and deadlier nonetheless, whereas the boss himself will get stronger and tougher to defeat every time you’re taking him down.

Bosses spawn after defeating 100 enemies, and whereas that can take you some time to realize to start with – particularly as you be taught to foretell the motion of sure enemies, such because the small pause a Yakuza takes earlier than slashing their sword, or the the time it takes for sharpshooters to goal, shoot and reload – that gauntlet of fallen foes gives the trial by fireplace wanted to tackle a giant unhealthy that requires far multiple hit to defeat. There’s some pleasing selection to them as effectively, simply to assist add spice to what can sometimes grow to be a really difficult but in the end repetitive expertise.

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These aforementioned challenges aren’t there to spice up your rating, however as an alternative facilitate a method to unlock new gear and weapons to be used in battle. One may ask you to kill three tanks in a single run (a substantial activity, even for extra skilled gamers) or one thing as easy but devilishly exact as killing 30 enemies with 100 % katana accuracy. You will solely be capable of customise your loadout with new gear, weapons and blades as soon as you’ve got died, but it surely’s an funding that may usually provide the slightest of edges throughout your subsequent run. You possibly can even unleash a lot of particular assaults, equivalent to a flurry of strikes throughout a number of enemies – ideally suited for clearing out an oncoming horde of blade-wielding goons.

Conclusion

Whereas it won’t share the intricate ranges and levelling up mechanics of Hyper Gentle Drifter: Particular Version, Akane balances out its lack of topographical selection with a easy but difficult set of rolling targets and an more and more robust number of enemies to slay. Demise is fixed in these first few hours, however persevere and you will uncover a hack ‘n’ slash survival sport that rewards precision, place and quick-thinking. With an excellent chiptune/synth soundtrack and an artwork model that wears its influences entrance and centre, Akane has loads of charms for these keen to be taught to wield its blades – even when it does grow to be barely samey over time.