I must warn all opponents of the Far East climate – this is not a game for you. But is this combination of RPG and action games worth getting interested in at all?
As with most Japanese titles, the story is also quite complicated. Muramasa is interesting in that there are two storylines and you can play them simultaneously, but they are separate stories. In the background there are the themes of the civil war, the passing of souls between bodies, the fight between good and evil, moral dilemmas, etc. However, there is no need to cheat, the plot (at least for the European player) will be of secondary importance (which does not mean that it is uninteresting) and it is mainly an excuse to kill bosses, gain levels and forge more powerful swords.
The latter are a key element of the game. It is thanks to them that new fragments of the map are unlocked, destroying the barriers that separate them. The blades have different stats, special attacks, combat styles, etc. 3 blades are active at the same time, and the player switches between them with the triangle. You have to do it often, because weapons have limited durability that regenerates over time. It often happens that they are all broken and one becomes almost defenseless. Making swords is a very simplified process. After killing the boss, you receive the main blade that unlocks the possibility of creating new ones. These, in turn, cost souls and energy (spirits) gained in the game. Each weapon requires strength and vitality, but these factors increase automatically with each level. There is also a slot for wearables that increase resistance or improve statistics. However, it is not as extensive an element as in typical RPG games. The classic statistics development and extensive equipment are lacking.
The gameplay itself is a two-dimensional chop, in which the map has been divided into provinces, and these consist of small boards that you can freely move around. Most often they are linear and only sometimes the player has two paths to choose from. And here comes the first screeching. Running back and forth is quite annoying, and the ability to move between provinces is unlocked after completing the storyline or obtaining the right sword. Before that, you had to fly on foot, while defeating a lot of the same opponents. This is all the more annoying that they are not scaled to the player’s level, so visiting the initial locations is associated with killing really weak opponents.
During battles, the ability to move between boards is usually blocked, and a group of enemies appears around the player. The combat system is not very extensive. The attack is limited to a square, which is also used to deflect blows. In addition, there are special skills under the wheel, as well as jumping and crouching. The most time is spent in the air anyway, because a well-made combination of blows allows you to stay above the ground for a long time. Unfortunately, the fight comes down to pressing the square quickly and possibly jumping away, if a large number of enemies are attacking at the same time. You just have to watch the strength of the sword and change it at the right moment. Bosses are a bit more worst than others, because some of them have to be found in a way. However, the vast majority of them are simply extremely durable and deal above-average damage. This does not mean that the fights are boring, because they give a lot of satisfaction and are dynamic, but fans of extensive combinations of blows straight from fighting will be disappointed. And it’s worth choosing a higher difficulty level, because it’s really easy on the easier one.
Apart from combat, there is relatively little to do. There are no side quests, and talking to the characters you meet does not add much to the gameplay. When visiting the world, you have to jump a bit to get hidden souls and items. From time to time, you can also come across the caves of evil, i.e. specific challenges, after which you receive a practical amulet. Unfortunately, after some time the gameplay becomes a bit boring and the whole thing becomes schematic. Taking my time, it took me 8 hours to complete the game with one character, it will be about 16 for both of them. That’s a lot by today’s standards, but it’s worth taking breaks to avoid boredom. A small variety of opponents irritate the most. All together (except for bosses) there are maybe 15 types and often their stronger versions appear. Added to this is the fact that most attack in the same or similar way.
The graphics are beautiful. I did not think that I would come across a 2D game where I would stop to admire the views. I tried to take as many screenshots as possible, but they do not reflect the actual look of the levels. The provinces are radically different from each other. Forests, mountains, fields, cities and temples. There is a bit of everything, and the whole, thanks to the perspective, gives the impression of spaciousness. Cereals sway in the wind, the sea is undulating. Although I do not like drawing graphics, this one made a big impression on me. However, I cannot say the same about the sound. The music changes depending on the board, but is often tiresome and irritating. On the other hand, the sounds are few and people hardly pay attention to them. And the Japanese one too … Listening to this language irritates me and I know that I am not an isolated case. Unfortunately, there is no English dubbing of the characters.
Answering the question from the introduction – I think so. Muramasa is a fun, uncomplicated game that you can have a lot of fun with. You just need to remember about its proper dosage, because long sessions can be a bit weary. For less than PLN 100, the player receives two quite interesting stories of unconventional characters that will be enough for 15 hours of fun. If someone doesn’t mind the Japanese climate, then they should be happy.
Pros / Pros:
Two separate, interesting storylines
Długa / Long
Uncomplicated combat system
A lot of swords and related to them skills
Relatively cheap price / Relatively cheap
Cons / Cons:
Limited RPG elements / Simplified RPG elements
After some time the gameplay becomes schematyczna / After some time gameplay becomes schematic
No english dubbing / Lack of english dubbing
Secondary fights / Recurrent fights
/ Similar enemies
Initial lack of access to fast travel option from the beginning of the game
My game rating: 7
We thank Marvelus AQL for submitting the game for review / Thanks for Marvelus AQL for providing a review copy.