Whereas it is unattainable to take 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 rebel of Akira; the run-down futures of Blade Runner and 2000AD – once you begin slashing your katana and unloading bullet dying out of your pistol, you quickly realise this pixel artwork indie is extra Kill Invoice than anything.
That is as a result of Akane 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 Component. A seemingly infinite struggle fought throughout the confines of a single, neon-drenched enviornment. 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 properly. Demise is barely ever a heartbeat away – for you and your foes.
And enemies simply hold coming. With a top-down perspective, your square-shaped enviornment has doorways on all sides and your foes by no means cease pouring into the neighborhood, like a burly brawl of ultraviolence. Fairly than letting its mechanics descend into the territory of a twin-stick shooter, Akane as an alternative opts for one thing just a little extra refined. There is a small stamina bar beneath the titular heroine, and whereas it by no means actually will get in the best way of your offence, it does cease you from spamming the strike button.
With regards to ranged assaults, you are additionally pressured to make use of them with restrictions. You may solely fireplace your weapon when standing nonetheless, and you’ll’t shoot and slash on the similar time. Stopping to unleash a few salvos in the midst of a crowd isn’t advisable, however in the event you break away from the pack, your gun of alternative may help skinny the herd or skim a few of HP off a tank or a boss. You may’t reload your gun manually both – as an alternative, you may have to efficiently slay enemies along with your blade to refill your bullets. These concepts all faucet again into Akane’s central ethos: you might be at an obstacle. Take care of it, and win anyway.
Slaying enemies grow to be a rhythm of kinds as you adapt to the pace and behaviours of sure varieties. The problem is available in discovering the best way to adapt that dance of dying 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, for example, is as quick as you might be and deadlier nonetheless, whereas the boss himself will get stronger and harder to defeat every time you are taking him down.
Bosses spawn after defeating 100 enemies, and whereas that may take you some time to attain to start with – particularly as you study 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 offers the trial by fireplace wanted to tackle a giant dangerous that requires far multiple hit to defeat. There’s some pleasing selection to them as properly, simply to assist add spice to what can sometimes grow to be a really difficult but finally repetitive expertise.
These aforementioned challenges aren’t there to spice up your rating, however as an alternative facilitate a way 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 job, even for extra skilled gamers) or one thing as easy but devilishly exact as killing 30 enemies with 100 % katana accuracy. You may solely be capable of customise your loadout with new gear, weapons and blades as soon as you’ve got died, however it’s an funding that may typically provide the slightest of edges throughout your subsequent run. You may even unleash various particular assaults, akin to a flurry of strikes throughout a number of enemies – superb for clearing out an oncoming horde of blade-wielding goons.
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 goals 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 a superb chiptune/synth soundtrack and an artwork type that wears its influences entrance and centre, Akane has loads of charms for these prepared to study to wield its blades – even when it does grow to be barely samey over time.