Akane is a cyberpunk slasher fest, a violent symphony that plays out on the screen everytime that you play; a pixelated dance of death that is impossible to look away from. It’s menacingly violent and threateningly addicting and is easily one of the best action games for the price on the Nintendo Switch right now. While it’s lacking in content in certain areas, there is still hours of entertainment to be had in “Mega-Tokyo”.
The gameplay is heavily inspired by games like Hotline Miami, where you kill almost everything in one hit but in exchange, you also go down in one strike. The main character, the titular “Akane” is armed with a katana which can slice from up close and a gun that can kill from a distance, but has to recharge. Most enemies you fight are regular thugs with swords however the game will also throw unique enemies that mix it up like foes who shoot from a distance or who dash towards you with a slash. This is complemented by a combo meter that continually builds as you kill enemies in quick succession. You try to survive waves of thugs that come at you – often in groups of ten or more. After a wave is passed you fight the boss of the gang and he gets more difficult after every wave. All this fighting takes place in a giant urban arena that never changes.
The combat is incredibly gripping; the player moves at such speed and it’s so deadly that it really feels like embodying a deadly modern samurai. Once it got really intense and countless enemies are on screen at once, I found myself entering these states of zen-like focus. This is a game that will make you sweat and make your hands clammy. But it’s really great fun and never gets old, even after hours of playing.
The main goal of Akane is to see how many waves you can get through without dying, and to see how many times you can kill the boss. There is a story, however it is very minimal and not the focus at all. Much of the replayability in this game comes from score climbing and seeing how far you can get. Many may find it disappointing that up to a certain point there is no new content that appears – no extra arenas or secret bosses – and for the most part, what you see is what you get.
There is a system of progression besides the bragging rights however, as certain challenges will let you unlock new weapons, passive buff items, and different types of dashes. The challenges are fun to conquer and there’s major variety in the weapons and items that you get. You may get a shotgun or submachine gun instead of pistol, an item that lets you sprint instead of dash, or a katana that you can throw at enemies. A minor complaint is that not all of these unlockable items are equal and many are just flat out better, so many players may use the same set despite unlocking new gear.
In terms of visuals, Akane is a delight to look at; the colours pop and the pixelated art style is incredibly expressive. There’s so much detail in the main arena from the multitude of futuristic neon signs that cover every decapitated building, the rough and punk looking crowd that walks by, the cybernetic hookers that lurk the street corner, and the burning metallic mess that is your crashed bike. The world of Akane tells so much in such small space, that I felt myself drawn into it every time I picked it up.
It also helps that the music is absolutely killer, running as an awesome mix of electronic tracks that I never got tired of listening to. The bumping beats provides an adrenaline shot into everything, creating the excitement and character that is present throughout the experience. Sometimes it can feel as though you are playing into the rhythm of the music and it really amps up the feeling of the gameplay.
Akane on Nintendo Switch is more than worth the price of admission. It’s insanely engrossing and I found myself sitting down for a session and hours passing without notice. It sucks you into the combo killing action and never lets you go. It’s hard and it’s certainly not a game for everyone, but if your looking to be put to the test, the gangs of “Mega-Tokyo” are waiting for their next challenger.
Release date: May 2019
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Massive thanks to: QubicGames