Japanese schoolgirls just can't catch a break. Whenever humankind is in peril, you can count on them to save the day. In this arena combat brawler, you control a young lady named Misa. Does she have what it takes to slash her way through evil forces?
Less than a month ago, I reviewed a little game called Croixleur Sigma. When I started playing Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae, I was surprised to see how similar it is since you basically fight hordes of enemies within circular arenas as a schoolgirl. However, whereas Croixleur Sigma is super-cute; Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae is definitely a more mature title. It tells the story of Misa whose friend Suzuka turns to the dark side by wielding the Demon Blade. Misa must fight her way to save Suzuka from the blade's evil grasp before it drains the life from her and continues to spawn more demonic entities. Battling these demons is great fun as you observe their movements, sneak in a fury of attacks, then watch them agonizingly spurt blood while you're granted with the sweet reward of experience points. So far, this sounds like quite an interesting premise so let's see how the gameplay holds up.
You control Misa by running, dodging, and attacking every foe that stands in your way. You fight by unleashing strings of blade slashes and melee attacks. Using your sword drains its energy but punching and kicking restores it so you need a balance of the two. Additionally, you can charge and perform a powerful attack as well as sheathe your blade to destroy weakened enemies and gain extra points. Defensive manoeuvres allow you to block attacks then counter if your timing is spot-on. When you add it all up, you're left with one deeply satisfying combat system. If you ever get bored after your honed skills allow you to cut through demons like butter then you can always up the difficulty. When you seriously start to get good, you might even unlock two extra difficulty settings thus making a total of five. In the end, if you're the kind of gamer who loves training and bettering yourself within an involving combat system then you're bound to love the time you spend hacking and slashing in the world of Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae.
One dynamic that keeps the gameplay feeling fresh for much longer than most similar games is the character growth system. As I've already mentioned, you gain points as you combat evil. These points are used to purchase upgrades that have the potential to mix up your strategy drastically. For example, levelling up a combo could allow you to perform extra slashes, make your strikes more powerful, and restore your sword gauge faster. There are also simpler enhancements that increase your maximum health, add moves to your repertoire, and you can even unlock a bonus costume. Overall, growing Misa's abilities will keep you hooked seeing as you'll be blown away by how much she's capable of after playing for only a few hours. Heck, you'll need all the help you can get when it comes to the epic boss battles. They can get rather challenging but watching them fall is oh so gratifying.
Although Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae is undeniably fun, it suffers from two major issues. Considering you're confined to fighting within circular arenas, you'll quickly realise that this would have been a much better game if it followed the layout of a game like Devil May Cry. It definitely has the combat system for a massive demon-slaughtering adventure but it doesn't really live up to its full potential. The next biggest problem is that there isn't much content to experience. You only have one mode that contains five stages. The first four stages have you battling waves of enemies with a boss at the end of each and the final stage is just the last boss. Each stage features a different background and newly introduced enemy types, but it still doesn't add up to much of a game. Finally, I have a small issue with the in-game camera. You control it manually and it moves when you perform some abilities but I wish that it rotated automatically according to incoming attacks. There were too many times when an off-camera enemy sucker-punched me while I was focused on dealing with another foe. It's not a big deal but the developers could have made it more intuitive.
Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae is an enjoyable arena combat game that will appeal to fans of the genre. Although the lack of content is disappointing, you're sure to have a good time hacking and slashing at demon scum for at least an afternoon or two.
- + Intensely satisfying arena combat gameplay that gets more interesting as you play
- + Great character growth system
- + Awesome challenging boss fights
- - Gameplay doesn't live up to its full potential by being confined within small arenas
- - Only consists of a 5 stage arcade-style mode
- - Camera doesn't focus on incoming danger