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Samurai Riot review

We give our verdict on the side scrolling beat ‘em up from Wako Factory.

© Wako Factory

Samurai Riot has been released on Steam, we took a stab (sorry) at the latest release from Wako Factory.

Taking place in Japan during the feudal era Samurai Riot combines button bashing kick and slash action with a beautiful graphical quality which sets the game apart from others of the same genre. I will say this now, I really enjoyed this game and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a nostalgic kick (I’ll try not to do many more of these terrible puns!) or who wants an addictive arcade experience.

The game instantly put me in mind of classics from the NES/SNES era of side scrolling beat ‘em ups like Streets of Rage that I enjoyed so fervently in my younger days; the controls are simple, the arrows move your character, there is a button for a basic attack, one for a hard attack and a button for defence. In truth I barely used the defence option, this was in part due to the way in which enemies have a habit of ganging up on you and the omnidirectional nature of the sword parry, I found it much more effective to simply slash and move.

Watch the Samurai Riot trailer below:

 

Movement is not confined to simply the left/right parallel of many side scrollers and, again in the style of Streets of Rage, allows movement up and down which adds an actual level of strategy to gameplay that could otherwise become little more than button bashing. This movement is necessary given the different types of enemies you will encounter, from the straightforward geeky semi named guy with a steak knife tied to the end of a stick to the geeky semi naked guy with a meat cleaver tied to the end of a stick, oh and Sonya from Mortal Kombat with nunchucks; all of whom have distinctive fighting styles. I am of course jesting somewhat in my descriptions but in seriousness I couldn’t work out where the enemies were supposed to be from, they looked like crosses between Sheldon Cooper and Geordie from Star Trek except wearing only green shorts. Ultimately that didn’t matter as the gameplay was great fun and the overall graphical feel was wonderful.

The whole game has an authentic Japanese feel and the graphics are entirely in keeping with that, they are close to anime and really did shoot me back to being a child and desperately waiting for Toonami time on Cartoon Network. The backgrounds are suitably deep and detailed without being overwhelming, the colours are vibrant and the soundtrack, though repetitive, does improve the atmosphere significantly.

One of the major selling points of Samurai Riot is the idea that your decisions throughout the game impact on 8 different possible endings. Should you follow your honour or seek to be the best fighter? I must confess that due to the frantic nature of the action I didn’t give much thought to these kinds of decisions, however, on my second play through I attempted to complete it in the most honourable way; this proved extremely difficult! This element is further elaborated on during Co-Operative modes where the game again follows broadly in the footsteps of Streets of Rage. The boss battles are many and varied, each bringing with them their own challenges, I am trying not to give spoilers but personally I found the final boss a touch easier than many that preceded it which was a slight anti-climax. This may have been down to decisions I made in the game but I can’t be sure.

View some screenshots from Samurai Riot in our gallery:

The game also allows for customisation within the character selection. At the beginning of the game you are given the choice between two characters, Sukane or Tsurumaru, each with their own different attributes, from here you are able to customise them further through the addition of fighting style to suit your own gameplay needs. Though these are oddly titled, I am not sure who would pick ‘Frog’ style over ‘Phoenix’ or ‘Dragonfly’, they do give a real dimension of customisation and replay ability which was often lacking from other similar titles.

In terms of the downsides, I felt that the default button configurations were somewhat clumsy and involved unnecessary congestion between hands; when the right shift key is block, 1 and 2 on the number pad are the attack buttons and you have the movement provided by the arrow keys things tended to get a bit messy. I also felt that more effort could have gone into the soundtrack which ultimately does let down the game, it is repetitive and along with the repetition of the same sound effects throughout did mean I felt more immersed by playing at a low volume.

Overall, Samurai Riot is an excellent game which brings back memories of retro classics and childhood loves, the developers have clearly put a lot of effort into making the game infinitely playable and replayable, each stage is different and increases in difficulty and though the music and SFX are repetitive ultimately I felt that this added to the arcade feel. If I am honest I am not sure whether my love of this game is due to nostalgia or the real quality of the game, however, whichever it is, I would recommend this one to anyone who thinks wistfully of the days before a games’ quality was derived entirely from how many shades of red you could see in the blood of your beaten enemy and instead came from the challenge of the game itself.

Samurai Riot was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the developer.

Developer: Samurai Riot Release Date: September 13, 2017 Reviewed On: PC

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