Akane (2)

I’m going to throw an idea at you: Hotline Miami but it’s a battle royale that has been watching way too much Kill Bill. Sound good? It is good and that game actually does exist already. Going by the name of Akane, Qubic Studio’s vicious slasher of a game painted the town red last year on PC. It’s back again, only this time with a fresh change in platform as it hacks away at the opposition on Nintendo Switch.

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The overall premise is simple enough: You control the swordsman Akane, as she prepares for a final showdown in the dingy town square of her local metro. There are a hundred goons in front of you, a man who needs to die and zero regrets for the suicide mission that’s about to unfold. Quick, simple and straight to the point.

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If Akane’s plot is simple, its gameplay is then deliciously devious and layered. Like a homicidal infomercial, Akane is easily able to slice her way through cannon fodder Yakuza, but wait she can kill more. Two, four or even eight gangsters descending on you at any given time is nothing to worry about as Akane cleaves her way through them in a manner that would make Quentin Tarantino proud.

The catch here is that even Akane runs out of energy. Swing your sword with reckless abandon, and she’ll be breathing heavy, forcing you to cease your attack and give her a few seconds to catch her breath. It’s a double-edged sword because even when her guard is down for a second Akane runs the risk of being introduced to the pointy end of a Yakuza blade as the streets begin to become crowded with a swarm of angry ruffians.

Akane (5)

To combat that weakness, Akane is able to pull out a gun and keep the field clear for as long as she has ammo, with subsequent strokes of her sword refilling her gun with death-dealing bullets at a quicker clip. In addition to all that, Akane gets two special abilities to call upon in times of crisis: Fill her meter up, and you can unleash a blistering quick dash that gives anyone in her path a 50% discount on their torso, whereas filling the meter up to 100% will unleash an insta-kill attack on anyone within her view.

Akane (1)

All of these tools aren’t just used to clean the streets of scum, they’re also vital for the final showdown once you’ve killed a hundred enemies: Katsuro, your dread rival and a nemesis who returns after every death with an upgraded arsenal of moves and attacks. That all makes for an armpit-moistening experience, with death often coming from a blundered move or general unpreparedness.

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When you find your groove though, and unleash hell? Akane is brutally addictive. Alongside the bangin’ soundtrack and challenges that help you unlock new weapons, there’s a flow to the action that is simply unmatched by most other games on the market today. That groove, that rhythm that builds on your momentum, strategy and quick thumbs quickly turns Akane from an interesting game into a “just one more try” game.

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And then you look up, eyes squinting and you wonder why it’s dark outside.

Last Updated: May 16, 2019

Akane always ends in violence, bloodshed and the death of the titular hero. It’s the journey towards that inevitable conclusion, that makes this retro-styled experience one of the finest examples of its genre as it deftly weaves a subtle strategy with some of the tightest action on the market today.
Akane was reviewed on Nintendo Switch

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