REVIEW – Akane (Switch)

One Woman Army

Akane is a low cost one-hit one-kill arena slasher on the Switch eShop.  Think Robotron but without twin-stick controls, a neon landscape, you fight Yakuza instead of aliens, and with a stronger emphasis on melee combat.

Death will inevitably strike the player but the goal is to take as many Yakuza with you before the end.  Akane actually has a lot in common with a game like JetPack Joyride, where the gameplay is the same every time but enemy placement is always different and the player is bribed with specific gameplay objectives.  This is the addicting hook of Akane – the objectives. The only problem is, almost all objectives are extremely difficulty to achieve.  For example, earn a 50 hit combo before reaching the first boss or kill a few tanks before you die.  Each objective requires near perfect play-throughs which can be both frustrating and satisfying when one is unlocked.  Clearing objectives are always tough but they provide the player with valuable unlocks such as new weapons, armor modifiers, and even can cosmetically change the way the game looks. Unlocking a challenge that is geared around gunplay will most likely unlock a new type of gun, for example, which can modify the player’s approach to combat. Using that unlockable shotgun takes more ammo with each blast but can kill more enemies at once compared to the standard, but more accurate pistol. The carrot is always dangled in front of the player but that carrot is always very difficult to reach.

At first, I was confused by Akane’s controls, wanting it to be a twin-sticker.  But after a few rounds, I actually prefer the default control scheme.  Since action is fast paced, the player needs to find a groove to combat, making it feel like a fluid John Wick gunplay dance.  After a few sword swipes, the stamina gauge will deplete forcing a rest period.  However, sword kills are the only way to regenerate ammo for the selectable gun.  Forcing this balance upon the player results in some magnificent battles.  Swiping through a throng of enemies without stopping, then stopping and popping a few incoming baddies only to pick up and continue the slaughter feels super smooth, fluid, and always satisfying.  Even though completing the challenges are way harder than they need to be, I still had a blast slicing through hundreds of enemies, picking off a few heads along the way.  There is also a power meter that slowly fills with each kill, allowing the player some super attacks, one of which is screen-clearing making you feel like you are a one-man samurai army.  Combine this with the ability to block, deflect bullets back at enemies, and a dash move, Akane is one fast-paced game built upon action and perfection.

The EDM music mixes with the neon Tokyo visuals and the lone and outnumbered warrior vibe is always cool.  My only complaint with the visuals is the flying drone camera that randomly hovers over the arena.  More times than not, I thought this NPC was an enemy, forcing me to whiff my sword swipe or waste ammo, which sends the combo counter back to zero, making each objective even more difficult.  Akane is also great to play solo but can’t help but wonder how this would play in a co-op setting.

If you have exhausted Geometry Wars and are looking for a new type of Smash TV, Akane is the sleeper hit title to check out.  It only costs about $5, or even less if you own other QubicGames titles.  Few games make you feel as badass as Akane as its fluid combat and bleak scenario is dripping with personality and addictive loops, even if they are rather difficult.

SCORE: 8/10

Also Try: Blazing Beaks (Switch)
Don’t Forget About: the Yakuza games
Wait For It: John Wick Hex

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief
Twitter: @ZackGaz

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