One hit, one kill games can be quite the fun experience when done right, as is the case in the Hotline Miami series. Some can be just okay, as is the case with Mr. Shifty. Akane is a new entry in the genre, which is currently available on Nintendo Switch for the low price of $4.99 (yet another game that also features discounts if you own other games from the publisher.) What you get for the price is an easy to pick up slasher, where you and your katana take down as many Yakuza as you can in a futuristic Tokyo plaza. There is no happy ending, you will die, so take as many of the bastards down as you can.
Immediately upon booting the game up, you will notice the eye catching style. It’s got a clean bit style, with striking neon colors that give that distinctive neo-futuristic vibe. It is very appealing to my personal pallet, but I think most players can appreciate Akane’s style. An awesome song accompanies your game time, only further pushing that sense of style that the visuals set the standard for. Though you only get to play on one map, it is a good looking one. Little details line the perimeter, with by standers watching the action, and news/adverts light up the night on bright screens. Several stands provide shelter against the occasional shooter, but more on that soon. The aesthetics hit all the right cords for me, but does the substance match the style?
Gameplay wise, this game is pretty tight in terms of controls. It is simple, slash and shoot as MANY bad guys as you can without taking a hit, and test yourself against challenges along the way. Beating these challenges allots you new equipment, whether it be visual changes or ones that grant you new skills for your swords. These will help on you on your quest to send a few extra Yakuza to hell. Now you cannot go trigger or slash happy without warrant, you need to be precise and systematic as a good warrior should be. You have a stamina bar, so you need to pace your slashes. You also have limited ammo, which you can recover off your dead enemy’s bodies to make them pile up higher in turn. Once you unlock them, certain skills can be used with your katana. You can either throw your sword (which you have to manually recover) or do a sweet whirlwind move, the latter of which I prefer. I think it controls pretty well, but I still need to practice much, having only ever made it past 200 kills once leading up to this writing. But it is quick gameplay. You can die just as quick as you restart, and get right back into it without any fuss.
Just like the gameplay, there is a small variety of enemies too. Basic thugs rush you, while tanks need a bit more work to kill. There are also shooters who can snipe you out if you do not close in on them first, and cyber ninjas that have the edge in the speed department. There is also a Boss, who shows up at every 100 kills, growing stronger each time you kill him, furthering the challenge of this arcade style slasher. Remember, one hit and you are dead, so every second that passes in your run can bring you one step closer to death.
Based on the game at hand, and a price that is more than affordable, I think this is a solid little title. It does not reinvent the wheel, nor does it offer dozens of hours of gameplay, but it offers a fun challenge that can feel pretty intense in short bursts. Its style’s sleekness, as well as its hectic slashing gameplay, make Akane stand out a bit more than many other Switch titles priced in the same range. I think fans of Hotline Miami and even Hyper Light Drifter will be able to find something to enjoy in the deadly streets of Akane’s vision of Tokyo.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 7.5/10
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