Title: Samurai Riot
Genre: Beat ’em Up
Developer: Wako Factory
Publisher: Wako Factory
Release Date: September 13, 2017
The folks at Wako factory were kind enough to send us a key for Samurai Riot. Which I’ve sadly been slack in reviewing; things have just been hectic. But boy, does it scratch an itch I’ve had.
I suppose I’ll start with the story. I made it a point to at least play through one campaign in its entirety: Tsurumaru’s. Mostly because he’s the Samurai. Over the course of the game, you’re given some options. These work in conjunction to decide your ending overall, changing your path and story beats as well. The nice thing about these moments of choice is that you’re given an opportunity to change your mind before a decision is locked in. Helpful, if you have a tendency to absentmindedly mash the wrong button. Some of these choices evoke the old question of what typifies a true samurai (one who serves a just and good lord faithfully, or one who serves a cruel lord just the same); that knowledge should make the choice harder on your first playthrough.
As far as the controls go, they’re about standard for a game like this. The game controls well. It’s worth mentioning because so many have a problem in this area. Samurai Riot, on the other hand, does not.
Gameplay is pretty much standard for the genre. You go in the direction you’re told, and beat enemies up. Notably, grappling has its own button; helpful, as I’ll mention in a moment. You also have a guard, which is surprisingly helpful against a few enemies, yet almost worthless against the top-tier enemies and bosses. I often found myself wishing that I could change the direction of my guard while it was up, as you can with charge attacks.
Since this is a Beat ’em Up, things can be a little unfair at times. Standard enemies are color coded, from their base colors all the way up to black and red; the second and most strong of their variety, respectively. Red enemies in particular can be a pain, especially in crowds, since they usually have reach and moves the lower tiers do not. I lost several lives when I otherwise wouldn’t due to a lack of mercy invincibility while fighting two or so of these. That said, that is a part of the genre, so it isn’t exactly what anyone would consider a flaw.
Bosses are similar to the red enemies, in that they have both reach, and attacks which bypass your guard. Which makes getting around their defenses occasionally difficult. There’s really only one way to cheese them; cheesing charge attacks while standing on a different part of the Y-axis and waiting for them to come in range. In the case of bosses that can block (a.k.a. the type that don’t become standard enemies after the fight), even that might not work. Though some of this might be mitigated by having a second player with you; I didn’t have such a luxury.
The pickups are mostly what you’d expect from such a Japanese-flavored game. Tea and sake fill your special meter, onigiri and sushi your health. Souls are lives, and ryo is money, used to unlock new styles for your next playthrough. I did find myself wishing that health pickups were a tad bit more plentiful, as the would’ve saved me a life or two. But overall, given the genre, you’re going to die sometimes, no two ways about it.
The graphics are also tinged with that Japanese flavor. They’re reminiscent of Japanese Ukiyo-e style, without going full bore on it. Animating in such a style would be a pretty big undertaking otherwise. Nonetheless, the game is pleasing in its own right, bringing in enough to see that influence, while still compromising for the sake of making the whole possible. It’s a necessary compromise and I’d argue it works.
I need to make note of the fact that the game is short. Granted, much of the game’s value is in replay. You have unlockable styles for both characters, and multiple endings based on your choices.
Overall, Samurai Riot is a worthy addition to the genre. Especially since finding a good example nowadays is so hard to do. I feel it’s earned a recommendation because of that.
“If you’ve been itching for Double Dragon or Battletoads, you’d do well to pick up Samurai Riot.”
We were provided a copy of this game for review