Developer: Anton Hultdin and Level Eight
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Popular culture has us believe that the ideal life of the samurai is one of peaceful stoicism. Violence is only used when necessary and when it is used it is quick and efficient. With that in mind, the slow, deliberate pacing of the ironically titled Samurai Rush makes a certain amount of sense. Too bad it’s just so boring.
Players take on the role of a vengeful samurai out to rescue his people from a gang of marauders. In order to succeed, the samurai will have to walk down a seemingly endless path filled with armed enemies and figure out not only how to survive this gauntlet but how to fight back. The path is broken up into different levels and walking is automatic. Therefore the player’s role is to know when to shift into one of three lateral positions and when to slash. Timing is crucial as being hit once will send the player all the way back to the beginning of the level. The key is to know the enemy’s range, lure their aim to a specific spot, and then shift at the last second so they miss and are open to counter-attacks. These accurate, risky, deadly slices aren’t needed to finish levels but they yield bonus points in addition to looking cool.
In a sense, it’s more of a puzzle game as much of the challenge comes from analyzing enemy layouts and knowing when to make what move. The problem is, outside of the three boss fights, it’s such a simple puzzle that when combined with the sluggish movement makes for a mildly satisfying but ultimately dull experience. Even worse, the unresponsive touch controls don’t always move the samurai to the right lane in time causing tedious and frustratingly unnecessary deaths and restarts. It’s like a second-rate Bit.Trip Runner.
Samurai Rush has its upsides, though. The painterly art style, while kind of generic and repetitious, is pleasant to look at. Along with the driving, rhythmic score, the game creates a convincing feudal Japanese atmosphere. This is also one of those nice freemium games that put a generous amount of their content in front of the paywall. Players won’t get all of the 30 levels but they’ll get a suitable taste. However, the overall middling gameplay means that chances are it’ll be a taste players won’t want to try again.