There aren’t too many cut-throat, violent games on the App Store. Nor are there many games that feature the aesthetic beauty of hand-painted, cell-shaded graphics. Samurai 2 Vengence by Madfinger Games is such a game and a wonderful brawler to boot. The action can get very intense and the visuals are truly gorgeous here. To those who haven’t played the original and who have a weak heart, be warned however. Samurai 2 has some violent gameplay – compromised of decapitating the enemies’ heads, arms, and bodies in half as well as unleashing rapid combos in all directions at them. The way decapitation works is sometimes the game slows down allowing you to swing the sword and if it hits an enemy a decapitation takes place.
You are a Samurai bent on a mission to save villagers from an evil human-demon hybrid named Orochi that gained power from the underworld after escaping capture. The story isn’t going to win awards but it is well presented through cutscenes in between the game’s seven chapters. Gameplay consists of using keystroke-combinations of two virtual attack buttons to take on enemies ranging from those using bows and arrows to samurai with swords. As you defeat enemies and break barrels you can purchase additional attacks or combinations — as well as health via the points you acquire.
Besides fighting your way up to Orochi there are also obstacles to overcome like wooden spikes or blades coming from the ground. The camera sometimes changes angles and direction and there is a nice variety of level layouts as you progress through chapters.
Presentation: The game has incredible presentation and production values for an iDevice app — and is an Universal App. From the game’s melodies giving the game flair and mood of the Far East to the beautiful visuals and colors to moving platforms. Control is also really well done with a virtual analog and two different attack buttons as well as a roll. The graphics are just pure eye candy and I don’t think I’ve seen anything that matches this on the iDevices yet. The controls with the touch analog and various button inputs like dodging-rolling are very well implemented and keep the game fresh. This isn’t just an average brawler type game, but one with art and style and some great gameplay. The game is no cake walk and has various difficulty settings for different kinds of players but is aimed at the less casual crowd.
Variety of gameplay: There is a Dojo game mode in addition to the main storyline where you fight hordes of enemies including Orochi himself with no continues and this should be a nice addition for gamers who already beat the main storyline.
The game’s pace flows real well between fights because of a variety of gameplay elements besides combat. For example, I had to navigate obstacles coming at me with spikes and move platforms to advance as the camera zoomed in various ways showing the game’s aesthetics.
No block button: I Don’t like the fact the enemies can block various swings with the sword but I couldn’t. A block option as another input would have been nice but the roll does the job as well although sometimes it can get redundant to constantly use it during larger battles when every hit against enemies will be returned five fold. Some options to mix strategies up with a block would be great.
Lack of multiplayer: Although GameCenter support is included with leaderboards and some other network options, online multiplayer would be a blast to play with a co-op campaign on the hardest difficulty setting and versus battles against rival Samurai is missing as well.
Length: The game is not long and shouldn’t take more than a handful of hours to finish even with the high difficulty on anything beside the easiest setting.
Overall, Samurai 2 Vengence is a very solid game that shows the potential of the kinds of games the iDevices can handle despite lacking the processing power of a PC or modern console. I played this on my iPad and the game felt incredible in every aspect. The developers are also listening to the community and adding updates like they have with a lower difficulty setting. I highly recommend the title to any serious gamers not turned off by decapitations and blood — as there is plenty here.