Whereas it is inconceivable to have 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 revolt 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 is just not 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 Ingredient. A seemingly infinite battle fought inside 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 nicely. Loss of life is barely ever a heartbeat away – for you and your foes.
And enemies simply maintain 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. Relatively than letting its mechanics descend into the territory of a twin-stick shooter, Akane as a substitute opts for one thing somewhat extra refined. There is a small stamina bar beneath the titular heroine, and whereas it by no means actually will get in the way in which 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 hearth your weapon when standing nonetheless, and you’ll’t shoot and slash on the identical time. Stopping to unleash a few salvos in the midst of a crowd is just not advisable, however if you happen to break away from the pack, your gun of alternative may also 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 a substitute, you will 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 a drawback. Cope with it, and win anyway.
Slaying enemies turn out to be a rhythm of types as you adapt to the pace and behaviours of sure varieties. The problem is available in discovering the 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 0 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’re 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 purpose, shoot and reload – that gauntlet of fallen foes offers the trial by hearth wanted to tackle a giant unhealthy that requires far multiple hit to defeat. There’s some pleasing selection to them as nicely, simply to assist add spice to what can often turn out to be a really difficult but finally repetitive expertise.
These aforementioned challenges aren’t there to spice up your rating, however as a substitute facilitate a way to unlock new gear and weapons to be used in battle. One would possibly 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 p.c katana accuracy. You will solely have the ability to 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 a lot of particular assaults, akin to a flurry of strikes throughout a number of enemies – preferrred 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 targets and an more and more powerful number of enemies to slay. Loss of life is fixed in these first few hours, however persevere and you may 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 turn out to be barely samey over time.