Samurai Jack has starred in a few games before and he's back after an over 15 year hiatus with the fun-filled Battle Through Time.
When I was a teenager in high school, many of my classmates talked about Samurai Jack and how cool of a show it was. After watching it for myself, I understood what was appealing about it yet it never quite clicked with me. When I started playing Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time, the memories flooded back and I have more of an appreciation for the franchise now than I did when I was younger. For starters, Battle Through Time is incredibly faithful to the original show complete with animated cutscenes, well-designed character models, the same voice cast, and sprinkles of humour that help bring levity to its world. I imagine that if you're already a fan of Samurai Jack then you'll love experiencing what Battle Through Time has to offer. With that out of the way, let's dive into the gameplay.
Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time looks and sometimes plays like a 3D platformer but it's more of a hack and slash game with light RPG elements. You basically traverse stages while taking out hordes of enemies then challenge a boss at the end. The combat is impressively tight yet simple and it made me feel like I was playing a PlayStation 2 game. That's good because there are plenty of awesome PS2 games that are still highly enjoyable to play nowadays and it's bad because its visuals aren't really up to modern standards. I don't expect the graphics to be realistic yet I wish that they featured more style because everything comes across as rather generic. Thankfully, the gameplay is fun enough that it would have been considered a solid PS2 game if it released 15 or so years ago.
As you hack and slash enemies with light and heavy blows, you can also unleash ranged attacks via bows, shurikens, and even guns which kind of feel out of place. Although the range of weaponry is welcome, I found that blocking and dodging were kind of clunky and required early button presses as opposed to reaction-based. Speaking of irritating moments, there are many of them scattered across Battle Through Time's campaign. Whether you're trying to run past a closing wall that you can barely outrun even at full speed or suffering from severe damage from a single boss attack, things can turn sour quickly. That being said, outside of these stand-out annoying instances, the level of challenge is surprisingly low. Most of the time, you can simply mash buttons to progress and even some bosses can be taken out without any need for strategy or skill. Just hack and slash away and you'll most likely emerge victorious.
On a positive note, Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time features some truly rewarding character progression. As you play, you'll earn many different currencies that you can either exchange to unlock nodes on a few skill trees or use at a shop to purchase items and upgrade Samurai Jack's weapon levels through training. Doing so causes a noticeable difference in combat which is great as it makes saving your money and points a satisfying endeavour. Also, if you simply want to defeat a boss that's giving you trouble then you could always stock up on a whole load of heal items. Having such options makes the campaign quite accessible and rewarding.
Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time definitely doesn't offer anything particularly groundbreaking but it does feature satisfying old-school hack and slash fun that's hard not to enjoy. Throw in some RPG elements and you're left with a solid albeit lackluster experience.
- + A fun throwback to PS2-era games
- + Presentation stays true to the show
- + Rewarding character progression with nifty weapons, RPG elements, and items
- - Visuals are rather humdrum
- - General lack of challenge
- - Occasional irritating moments