I’ll keep this review relatively swift and relatively simple – much like the game itself. Kiai Resonance by Absorb Reality is a one-on-one, one-hit-kill slasher. When I say slasher, I mean literally from the blades you sport. In terms of genre, it’s far from that. In fear of an upcoming contradiction, Kiai Resonance is slow-moving but over very quickly.
As a resident Japanophile (most places have them), I jumped at the chance of playing this – knowing full well what to expect. Kiai Resonance is traditional Japanese sword fighting. Think kendo or iaido. I used to do the latter. In a nutshell, it’s the art of drawing the sword (you don’t spar with anyone, thankfully, or I’d be dead). This style of swordplay is nothing like how we see in the movies or most games, but luckily, we still have the likes of Soul Calibur VI and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – even if they’re a tad unrealistic.
So, with realism in mind, you have three stances of attack: slow, fast, and hard. Much like in chess, you need to calculate your opponent’s move and cut them down before they get to you, or you can counter their attack if you’re feeling dangerous. Okay, not typically chess, more Battle Chess. I’m familiar with this type of sword game though, so I was aware how I should not rush in, but it just feels so clunky and unresponsive. Switching stances is relatively quick, and it’s not like your opponent overpowers you, but the transition from the controller to screen seems a bit too laggy. That’s not my excuse for dying, mind. The reasoning would be that I was rushing it a few times, purely as I was getting frustrated with it.
Each match begins with each samurai facing off against one another. You’re ready to fight, but it’s usually over in a few seconds. That’s fine, but not so much when you’ve pressed a button, and it hasn’t translated so well. It reminds me of a mini-game you would place directly on a website – like a Flash-type game with keyboard input. That would certainly explain the lag, at least.
From the menu screen, you have a few options to configure, such as how many rounds you play, the starting level, and which character you wish to be. There is a tutorial on how to play, which I find is very important. However, the font used for the game text is awful, so it’s hard to make out words. It’s a very overused ‘samurai’ font you often see on anything associated with Japan. The font adds additional strokes to the characters, much like the Japanese written language katakana, to make it look authentic when, in fact, it makes it harder to read.
Aside from the font, the game is visually excellent. It may appear rough around the edges to some and lacking colour etc., but it’s spot-on for the period, and it draws its inspiration from classic Japanese art and, notably, the seasons. That all works well, as does the music, but the animation is a bit naff. It’s in the style of cut-out characters – the developer has done his homework, but overall, much like the battles, my experience was over too quickly, and this one is most likely to be used for entertaining visitors who think they know how to play this type of game. But I doubt we would play it long.
Developer: Absorb Reality
Publisher: Flying Interactive
Platform: PC, Switch
Release Date: 25th July 2019