Ben Rayner reviews Sadame…
A hack’n’slash title that attempts to litter Japanese history with Demons for killing and bright colours to whet the appetite of 90’s gamers everywhere?
Well, that sounds great and something that had my had ready to grip the 3DS once more.
Sadly, I felt a somewhat more tepid emotion when playing through Sadame (or Ishi-Sengoku-Den Sadame as it’s known in Japan) .
The concept is great and for the most part it’s gameplay is fine but while the hefty foundations are a great start, it never really lifts off the ground, instead settling into a rather repetitious order which seems more akin to that of a free to play iOS or Android title.
Focusing around a single hero on a perilous journey to bring balance and peace to his homeland, you’ll be busy defeating the evil scourge of demons cropping up left right and centre like it’s a Buffy reunion episode.
With four classes to choose from, you can step into the … of the Samurai, an archetypal sword wielding human blender, a Monk who is more than handy with a staff, a Rogue who’s, well. A bit of a Rogue who is dangerous with a bow and last but by no means least, the Ninja who is the fastest of the bunch and uses traps to foil demons in their slow saunter towards you.
With a mix of RPG elements, each available hero can level up and collect a decent amount of loot along their quest. Smashing chests and looting corpses to gain fresh equipment and gems, you’re given the chance to switch out items and equip gems for stat boosts at the end of each level but it’s not quite as straight forward as looking for the highest number and building your arsenal that way.
Sure, the numbers game makes sense usually, but when a sword may offer an extra damage point while sacrificing a particular skill that you’ve grown accustomed to, it isn’t really that smart a gamble. Is it?
Visually, I really took a shine to the games art style. Each character had their own cool 16-bit style which drew me back to my days playing Alundra for hours on end. The bosses mark a big achievement for the team at Mebius, making your usual swath of enemies look like an animation tutorial. With their bombastic style, littered with small details such as moving guts and rippling movements, and their ridiculous size that fills the screen with colour, I was impressed.
So far so good, but the real issue essentially lies at the door of the games core combat system. It just feels far too hollow, teaching you that repetition is a key to success. There’s new combos to learn in a bid to add some excitement but often they just leave you wide open for attack, turning you into the proverbial sitting duck. So after some bouts of major frustration, you’ll fall back far too often, on your standard attacks.
You don’t dare attempt to use all the possibilities of spells and combos, knowing full well it’ll only end in tears and blood not of your own.
Bosses with whom I was initially impressed with proved another let down, as their difficulty curve took my enjoyment off the boil in a rather confused state. With some bosses open to a simple ‘stand here. hack this’ take down while others required something a bit more complex (not in that order either) it felt a little style over substance in some instances.
Death isn’t all too meaningful, as every time you tackle a mission, failure simply means taking the experience gained back to the menu for a breather then jumping back into the action, giving you a chance to power through eventually simply through repeating actions.
With such an enjoyable style and a considerable effort to throw in some solid RPG elements, Sadame is a fairly enjoyable game and by no means an awful experience. With a fairly flat fighting system however, it sadly it just doesn’t ever quite break out from it’s own repetitious cycle of kill a few waves of demons and move on. It just never quite meets the lofty heights I’m sure (or at least wish) it could.
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