If you’re in the mood for a no nonsense action title that’s singularly focused on combat, then Mitsurugi Kamui Hikea is right up your alley. This austere offering is severely lacking in story, and takes place in a number of fixed arenas, but redeems itself somewhat by its in depth combat, resulting in an experience that’s short-lived but satisfying if slicing up waves of enemies with skilful precision and speed floats your boat.
You play as schoolgirl Misa, and over the course of half a dozen stages, you’ll pursue her best friend, Suzuka, who’s been corrupted by a demonic blade. A handful of very short cutscenes with minimal dialogue sets the scene and drives the narrative forward, but exposition is kept short and sweet. The plot is clearly not the focus of the experience, instead it’s the combat that takes centre stage.
In fact outside of this barebones story, there’s nothing but combat. Each stage is a small, closed arena with spawning bad guys to mow through before a boss fight. It’s entirely focused on these fights and feels very empty and featureless as a result. However, the combat shows some flair and complexity that rivals titles such as Devil May Cry, and once you start upgrading Misa’s move set, a great deal more strategy and technique creeps in.
What begins as a button-mashing affair, soon becomes a tense and frantic spectacle of highly skilled and satisfying swordplay. Basic martial arts fills a sword gauge which can then be spent performing samurai slices with your katana that do increased damage. Balancing the attack types to keep the gauge full and unleash some devastating combos when you need to, makes for a fun and tactical flurry of fights. Moreover, as you unlock new moves the combat becomes more varied and interesting, and your opponents follow suit with neat attacks of their own. It’s a challenging but enjoyable combat system and grows from humble beginnings to include parrying and counter attacks, juggling, and special moves.
However, as solid as the combat mechanics are, there’s very little else here to entertain you and it’s all over within a couple of hours. Additionally, as well as the many foes you’ll be engaging, the camera likes to fight you as well and won’t lock-on to enemies making the more advanced techniques that require precision timing that much more difficult to perform.
Mitsurugi Kamui Hikea is more akin to a fighting game than an action adventure, but one with a roster of only one character. Indeed then this lack of content is hugely disappointing. However, the experience is certainly focused on the most impressive and polished aspect: the combat, which is superb.
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