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Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a high quality, artistic, and well designed game developed by Vannillaware. The game follows two separate protagonists through the story Momohime and Kisuke. Each with their own progression and bosses, setting it apart from most games immediately. Graphically the game is presented in an ancient Japanese watercolor style. Animations are fluid and beautiful, this game wowed me on a different level and shows what a little creative thinking can accomplish within graphical limitations.
I’ve played through Muramasa multiple times always on the hardest difficulty. I was defeated many times while learning enemy patterns but generally the game isn’t terribly hard. Controls are very tight and easy to use. Creating effective and flashy combos on the fly is quite easy, and the combo meter is very forgiving. Creating large combos doesn’t offer more than the sense of satisfaction from making the numbers flash about, but it’s definitely going to be stuck in the corner of your eye. Once the combo meter breaks the 200 hit mark I dare you not to smirk. There are many different methods of attack and two different sword types. You’re able to carry up to three swords at a time and switch between them freely. If you wait long enough between the switch you unleash a full screen ‘quick draw’ attack that stuns most enemies and drives up the combo meter. Some swords even have unique attack sets, and there are a LOT of swords.
This game is great for the completionist. There are tons of weapons you can forge throughout the game, and as you switch characters you unlock even more swords. Swords are unlocked through a tree progression and to reach more powerful swords you have to forge multiple swords before moving to the next part of the tree. The swords get progressively harder to unlock, and many are obtained only after defeating certain bosses which does well to throttle your progression through the upgrade trees thus preserving the game’s balance and pacing. Each sword has different stats, with two types of attack sets, and each weapon has a special art and sometimes a bonus effect that can power up your character in various ways. Also the individual campaigns of the characters is truly unique. Most games with multiple protagonists have the stories as nearly identical with only differences in personal motivation or character development. In Muramasa the characters don’t even progress through the areas in the same order. The difficulty is also slightly harder as the male Kisuke which actually makes sense in the game’s lore. Momohime’s sword style allows her to control the destructive power of the Murumasa blades. Kisuke on the other hand is wielding the blades while knowing that their use is slowly killing him. The stories are compelling and the characters sometimes intersect with each other although they have no idea who the other is. The enemies are similar throughout the game, though for each character their order of appearance differs greatly, and the bosses are entirely unique.
Muramasa is an excellent title and is worth playing just to experience the graphics alone. Beyond that is a solid game with brilliant gameplay that stands out as just plain fun. In an era of gaming where you’re led through every game with a tuft of hay and quick time events Muramasa offers a more pure gaming experience. Trial and error, and exploration are encouraged and rewarded. Anyone looking to dust off their Wii or are looking to expand their library of great games would do well with this title and I thoroughly recommend it. That does it for this week. Keep an eye out for next week’s article for more great games you might have missed!
Game-Aware is a weekly article series by Theodore ‘Bear’ Rose that focuses on smaller titles that are often overlooked by the majority of gamers. These articles are not intended as a review, but instead as an awareness piece intended to bring attention to these overlooked games. Bear is a huge fan of indie and obscure titles and has played each game presented by Game-Aware thoroughly.