A game that features on my regular ‘go-to playlist’, Akane, published by Qubic Games, still manages to test my skills. Spoiler: I still suck. That’s right, Akane is a challenging game, but interestingly, there is only one stage. Is that enough to keep you going? Well, I’ve been playing it for some time now, so sure. Akane is a top-down slasher where you play as the title character. There isn’t too much said about our heroine, but from the brief glances of backstory, Akane is a bit of a loner who has gone rogue. She has a gift in using the sword and has now deemed it upon herself to seek justice on a yakuza boss and his minions in the streets of Tokyo.
Set in Mega Tokyo in the 22nd century, Akane starts off in a city square with a cyberpunk feel. Other than the usual palette of neon, there’s not too much that differs in the future; more importantly, Akane just sticks to her katana and the occasional firearm to destroy the waves of gangsters.
Ignoring the optional tutorial, you get thrown into the action immediately. Akane is surrounded by four thugs each time you start the game. You simply hit the A button, and you instantly kill your nearest foe. Akane is a one-hit, one-kill game, much like another slasher we’ve seen, Kiai Resonance, only much better. You run around the arena like Smash TV, hitting anyone in your reach. You can’t spam the attack button, however, as you will run out of energy. Likewise, if an enemy hits you, you die and restart the level.
Each level consists of 100 enemies that continually appear should you not kill anyone. This is nigh on impossible as you are already outnumbered, so the best way to kill them is to build up combos and use your firearm. You have limited bullets and earn more through time or by killing more. At the end of the 100 goons you fight, you take on the boss whom Akane has a history with. If you die, you restart. If you win, you still restart, but the boss’ level increases for the next encounter. The more enemies you kill in quick succession, the bigger the combo, and once it gets high enough, you can then unleash a special attack called the Dragon Slash. When using this attack, Akane moves in a straight line at any angle, killing those in her path. For the ultimate combo, she completes the Dragon Slayer, and that kills everyone within the area.
Moving to the Beats of a Ninja
Akane is already quick on her feet, but she also has a dash, which is essential to survival. She will move in whatever direction you are facing, but if it’s into the path of a yakuza, they’ll most likely one-hit kill you. The movement is with the left stick, where the right stick aims your gun and A shoots. It’s effortless to do but harder to master when surrounded. You also have a block button as well; I tended not to use it other than when you get an occasional enemy with a gun. You can ricochet their bullet, killing them and their buddies.
Visually, the game is very stripped down, and it took a while for me to get used to it. But once I got into the game, I got over it. It’s a pixel art style, and while I’m sure it took time to produce, it doesn’t really pop. Except for the colours. The actual character designs during the text dialogue are very nice. The standout in terms of presentation is the music. There are a handful of tracks that play throughout, and I found myself turning it up when playing and even seeking out the musician online to listen to. It’s actually not the kind of music I normally listen to, so I can’t tell you what genre it is. You’ll have to listen to it to find out!
Why Am I Still Playing Akane?
With only one level and one boss, what’s the point, right? I thought the same, but I’m so determined to unlock new gear that I keep coming back. The key thing to mention before talking about the gear is the most important reason I keep playing the game: I really enjoy it. It’s easy to pick up, there’s no faffing about with menus or cutscenes, and it’s rewarding when you complete a challenge. The challenges themselves aren’t random, but when you complete them, you get a piece of kit Akane can use. This can be sword upgrades, shotguns and clothing that makes you move faster. It’s just the right incentive to want to play it more and more. One of the challenges would be to kill three tanks in one playthrough (they’re a bulkier NPC that takes about three hits each). They’re not hard to defeat, but I’ve never had three spawn in a game.
Another simple challenge would be to kill the boss or defeat 50 enemies with a gun in one playthrough. This is tricky but certainly not unobtainable. Aside from the loot, you have a tutorial that teaches you the moves (essentially the combo moves you can do), plus a little bit about Akane but not much. You can assign the controls and set up your gear, but that is more or less it. No two-player or online play, before you ask.
Developer: Ludic Studios
Publisher: Qubic Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 10th September 2019
Do you agree with our review of Akane? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.