One Cut: Samurai Duelling In Kiai Resonance Trailer


It’s not knowledge I often get to use, but I have a shodan in Iaido, the Japanese art of the drawing of the sword. I practised Musoshinden Ryu in a budoukan on the quiet side of Kagoshima city, Japan. It is a precise and very frustrating martial art to learn: one learns first how to tie the hakama, or plaited trousers, then one learns how to tie the obi so that the sword hilt sits almost horizontal, right at the navel for quick draw. Then one learns to sit, for hours, in seiza – folded knees. Then meditation, a bow to the sword on the floor in front of you.

But Kiai: Resonance gets right, aha, to the point. It’s a samurai duelling game about one hit kills. One hit kills were the speciality of the samurai in the Kagoshima region, where I studied.

Kiai: Resonance is a “samurai fighting game where one hit off-guard is fatal”. Players have to adjust their sword position to counter their opponent’s, making it about “creating a mind game where you have to anticipate [the] next attack” according to Belgian developers Absorb Reality. Graphics are of course meant to evoke old Japanese traditional prints. Devs say that “classic one vs. one, either alone against the AI, two on the same screen, or online” modes will be available, among various other challenges.

No sign of a release date, though Absorb’s Twitter says the game is in beta testing and will be out “soon“.

Also no sign of the after-kill chi-buri – the blood flick – which is really my favourite part of samurai sword arts. Ah well. There were no tampon dispensers in Alien: Isolation either.


  1. GameCat says:

    ‘AAAAA’, ‘Aaaa’ ‘Aaaa’ ‘Aaaa’

    I hope there’s an option to disable these grunts. :x

    • dsch says:


      • GameCat says:

        They’re both funny and unsettling, dunno why.

        • dsch says:

          I like them because they remind us of the foreignness of the culture that is being appropriated.

          • Jakkar says:

            Though it should be noted that the depiction is of a culture’s own self-congratulatory delusions rather than the historical reality of the Samurai class or the combat technique of the period.

            I prefer the slightly overblown take of Kill Bill or Soul Calibur when it comes to feudal Japanese combat styles and techniques – the reality of the samurai was originally an emphasis upon excellent archery, and later a huge amount of puffed up pomp, ceremony and corruption. The fancy swordy bit is conspicuously absent as far as the historians can tell.

          • dsch says:

            All culture is delusional.

          • Chiron says:

            All culture is delusional.

            Deep man, so deep.

          • Honsou says:

            They sound like something out of South Park.

          • Tacroy says:

            All culture is delusion, but for some very interesting historical reasons the martial tradition of the Samurai is moreso than normal.

            Martial forms just don’t translate into writing at the best of times, and for various reasons people tend to be secretive about them as well. Before the gun, the West had all sorts of sword- and unarmed-combat traditions; that discussion between Montoya and the Man in Black at the top of the Cliffs of Insanity in The Princess Bride is actually fairly historical.

            Sadly, guns were just so much better than pretty much anything else that they ended up making most other martial traditions obsolete. All we have these days is modern sport fencing, which has as much to do with combat as golf has to do with battle.

            In Japan, on the other hand, guns were a foreign thing brought in by jerks, that were really hard to make anyway because Japanese steel was such junk. So what ended up happening was one dude used guns to unify the country, then said “screw guns, they make peasants into killers, we’re sticking with swords”.

            So the martial tradition of the Samurai hung around, even after the last of the knights and fencers had died off. When people remembered that swords were actually really cool, Japan was one of the few places you could go to actually learn how to use one.

            It’s just a pity that, as a sword, the katana simply isn’t that great. I mean, I applaud Japanese swordsmiths for accomplishing what they did with the terrible steel that was available to them, but if you beat a sharp edge and a handle into a piece of leaf spring that’s about the right size it’ll outperform any katana made before the 19th century.

            The sword through the ages is a really interesting topic, see for instance K. J. Parker’s monograph on it which I heavily cribbed from for this comment.

          • Devan says:

            What about this depiction is self-congratulatory? Are you suggesting that historic Japanese warriors did not in fact kill each other with swords? I’d like to see some references to back up those claims.

          • Rwlyra says:

            @Tacroy – the article you linked to was an interesting read, but lost a lot of credibility by mentioning the fabled WW2 Polish cavalry charge which was in fact a myth made up by german/italian propaganda.

    • Hypocee says:

      ‘Take all these stupid kiais out of the game called Kiai plz thx.’

      • Corb says:

        Agreed, however, those kiais are pretty horrible to listen to and don’t even qualify as a kiai. I would get bonked over the head by my instructor for not taking it seriously if I made sounds like that in practice. There’s no spirit or effort put into those sounds.

    • swimming anime says:

      Regardless of implementation in game, the yelling is a VERY IMPORTANT part of japanese swordfighting techniques. I’ve only taken a year of kendo but the kiais are so important tht if you dont do them loudly or powerfully enough you cant score points.

      • Corb says:

        It’s never about the volume, it’s about the spirit put into it. A yell vs a kiai is like a 5 year old having a tantrum vs a drill sgt yelling at recruits in the 80’s. It’s all about intimidation and psychological warfare to wear away their confidence and build openings.

  2. leeder krenon says:

    Looks like Nidhogg but for people who don’t played games whilst stoned.

  3. Myrdinn says:

    A long time ago I did a year of Jodo classes (thingy with the staff) while there were also a bunch of Iaido practitioners, forgot all about that, thanks.

    But ‘one hit kill’ outside of videogames sounds odd.

    • Geebs says:

      Yeah, say you’ve devoted your entire life to the art of the one hit kill, and then you hit a dude and he doesn’t die? You’d be standing there like, nothing in my training prepared me for this.

    • Shadow says:

      I practised Iaido for a while, and going for one-hit kill or incapacitation is not really a regional thing as far as I know. It’s quite general practice to deliver quick, moderate-depth cuts which produce a lot of bleeding and generally disrupt the adversary’s ability to fight. And a slow death at the very least.

      I remember the horizontal cut across the abdomen, for instance, severely impaired the opponent’s capacity to lift his blade. Game over. There was also a diagonal upwards cut across the torso which despite being rather shallow, it delivered incapacitating pain and hemorrhage.

      Many forms I practised could be achieved from the moment of unsheathing, in a single motion. Unsheathe-strike, sideswipe blade clean, sheathe, resume enjoying your tea.

      • Cara Ellison says:

        The ‘first strike’ style, Jigen Ryu, is one of the oldest surviving forms of Japanese swordsmanship, hailing from the Kagoshima region. ‘Second strikes’ were not allowed, making the Satsuma region samurai the most feared in the entire country. Other styles practised countermoves, but Satsuma samurai did not. They still practise Jigen Ryu in a budoukan in Kagoshima city (I visited in November). Musoshinden Ryu and many other styles of Iai were perfected much later in Japanese history.

        • Messofanego says:

          Really cool insight about first and second strikes being region-based, thanks!

          • plugmonkey says:

            I did kendo for a while. There were only 4 legitimate targets – wrist, abdomen, throat and head/neck – which were all designed to be one hit shot stoppers. You also weren’t allowed to block. Or move backwards.

            I’ve a sneaking suspicion I was being trained to be arrow fodder rather than a bad ass ronin…

        • Wowbagger says:

          I found this illuminating thank you – but had trouble taking satsuma samurai seriously in any way.

      • fredc says:

        “There was also a diagonal upwards cut across the torso which despite being rather shallow, it delivered incapacitating pain and hemorrhage.”

        Outside of video games, I suspect any time you are sliced open with a fucking great sword, you experience incapacitating pain!

    • Arglebargle says:

      When I was learning Aikido seriously, they had a Saturday morning ‘sword and staff (jo)’ class that was pretty interesting. Most of the work was exploring these techniques as the roots of Aikido, but there was one interesting Iaido technique of a draw from sitting seiza. Was a good class, good enough to get me up Saturday mornings when I didn’t have to.

  4. Jakkar says:

    None of the fluidity of Eggnogg/Nidhogg (the former the actually much more varied and entertaining demake released long before the real game)…

    Yet it lacks the technical depth of Bushido Blade (PSX), too.

    This should have been interesting ;-;

    • Jakkar says:

      [I have a petty problem with another human being and, in expressing it needlessly, in response to a thing which cost me nothing, I have contributed nothing but negativity to a space that might otherwise be fun or silly or joyous, and have revealed myself to have far worse a character than the person which I was aiming to insult.

      Why do I do this. Why don’t I just scroll past or click away. Why must I treat others as less than I would wish to be treated.]

      • Foosnark says:

        “[an insult]?” Because she mentioned taking some classes?

        I think the problem is with you.

        • Maczek Wolniek says:

          Calling it “mentioned” is an understatement, [because I also have more time than I have empathy or humanity.]

          • dsch says:

            One of the best things about RPS is that the writers have had interesting experiences and sometimes tell us about them. This has always been the case.

          • killias2 says:

            It’s practically the house style to start articles with a personal lead-in to the subject matter.

          • Llewyn says:

            One of the best things about RPS,,,

            One of, certainly. But a very distant second to the verve with which the editors (Jim in this case, I suspect?) occasionally edit worthless comments.

          • dsch says:

            Hah, brilliant.

        • Jakkar says:

          [I am still doing it. This pit is bottomless. I will be trapped here forever.]

      • killias2 says:

        Can somebody take Jakkar’s commenting privileges away until he stops being an ass? She is basically writing the same way anyone else does on this site. I can’t help but imagine that if “Harry Ellison” was writing the same way, it’d go without comment.

        • Jakkar says:

          Well, not really. Alice and Phillipa write deliciously, and [golly, sometimes criticism is fair, and sometimes it is simply needless. Sometimes everyone’s time could be better spent. Perhaps I could consider this. Perhaps if I had something really constructive to say I could email the editor. I don’t know.]

          • killias2 says:

            Fair enough. At least you’ve responded to the criticism reasonably. I’ll take that as evidence enough of a taste clash rather than a values clash.

        • thedosbox says:

          Seconded. If I want to read writing created by automatons, I wouldn’t be reading RPS.

      • SMGreer says:

        I think Cara’s writing is fine and interesting as is. Certainly far away from being “[an insult]”.

        Maybe you should lose commenting privileges until you stop being so insufferably silly/ignorant.

        • Jakkar says:

          How dreadful of me. If I haven’t anything nice to say I shouldn’t say anything at all, hm? [On second thought, this isn’t a bad idea when it comes to commenting on anything other than products, or when commenting in certain places.]

          • SMGreer says:

            A more useful sentiment might be unless you have something sensible to say, say nothing at all.

            If you don’t like the way Cara writes articles, fine but your comment is blatantly rude and not in the slightest bit constructive. If it’s such an issue for you, just stop reading her articles instead of moaning like a bampot.

          • Faxmachinen says:

            That would be nice, yes.

            Also, you might want to look into how rhetorical questions work.

          • bonuswavepilot says:

            Bampot is a lovely term. I actually thought it was pronounced “Bam-poet” for years because my only familiarity with it was from an old Billy Connolly sketch, until an English friend corrected me recently. Two thumbs up for regional variation!

      • dsch says:

        And this is what we call ‘projection.’

        • Maczek Wolniek says:

          Refer to “killias2” comment for an actual projection.

          • dsch says:

            No reason why both can’t be.

          • killias2 says:

            Hey, maybe I am wrong, but I’ve seen a lot of dumb shit said about a lot of great women over the past few months. I guess my “benefit of the doubt” energy banks are just about depleted.

          • dsch says:

            No reason why projection can’t also be true.

      • Jakkar says:

        Well, we all knew that was coming. Fine show, gentlemen. Everyone is very grateful for your contributions. Back to discussing gaming and games journalism, eh? <3

      • elderman says:

        Boy, I really don’t see what you’re talking about. I’m not saying “One Cut: Samurai Duelling in Klai Resonance Trailer” is a literary masterwork, but it’s in genre, informative, and interesting for those of us who didn’t know what a ‘shodan’ is before loading up RPS today. Writing a ‘take a look at this cool-looking game trailer’ post is a thankless task and Cara does it as well as anyone else I’m aware of.

        Not sure this game trailer interests me as much as other dueling games, lovely art style, though.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        You might be reading the wrong website.

        Funny how so many people only seem to have a problem with the RPS house style when it’s a woman writing. Or is it just that they feel more comfortable saying so?

        • Llewyn says:

          Well, the RPS ‘house style’ is still heavily modulated by the writer’s personal style. Cara’s version of it used to irritate me a lot (as did Craig’s and Nathan’s), but unlike this commenter I saw no reason to be so directly rude about it. Alice and Pip, who bear superficial similarities to those three (young and enthusiastic (urgh)), have never irritated me at all however. Strange, isn’t it?

          That said, I’m glad I didn’t take the easy option of avoiding Cara’s articles, as I’ve grown to miss her writing and enjoy seeing her back here.

      • Donjo says:

        I thought the anecdotal description was great for the post, probably wouldn’t have looked at the video if it weren’t for that. The sounds and animation are a bit shite but now I want to know what a shodan in laido is and am gleefully terrified that the term ‘one hit kill’ is connected to a duelling marshal art. So apparently it’s when you get your opponent during the act of drawing your sword. COOL.

        p.s only really boring people think that mentioning your interests is smug

      • poetfoxpaul says:

        Says the man who links to his deviant art on a website about video games and willingly shares his less-than-professional opinion about the history of samurai. Also, you’ve ended a majority of your comments with some cutesy emoticon, despite the comments themselves being quite passive-aggressive in nature. You are a contradiction and your offhand, puerile arguments are best kept to whatever echo chamber they came from.

      • RARARA says:

        Aww, shucks. Looks like RPS will have to keep you unhappy.

      • All is Well says:

        Man, if I had the power to edit stupid comments I’d change them so they became a heated discussion about which color kitten is the cutest.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          Anyone remember the Scrambler from Iji?

          If I had the power to edit stupid comments I’d make it so they read like that. Just unintelligible strings of emotes and sound effects.

          ” D8
          TOOT TOOT”

          Yep. Much improved.

    • lowprices says:

      Whoever has been moderating all these comments? I tip my metaphorical hat to you, Sir or Madam. Fine work.

  5. Kefren says:

    During my aikido days I taught some weapon classes – bokken (wooden katana), jo etc. The problem with any 2D representation is that it misses out hundreds of options that involve cutting off-centre, or moving your whole body off-line, especially with turns. I don’t mean that as a disparaging comment on the game – all games are reductions – but it would feel weird for me to play a game based on real arts that missed out sensations and movements I had experienced (and been whacked with). Ah, 6am bokken classes at aikido summer school, the only time I ever got up that early!

    • VCepesh says:

      That is the plight of everyone, whose topic of familiarity is featured in or is a focus of any form of media. Imagine how every single game that focuses on melee weapon fighting feels to me, as a fencer.

      • dsch says:

        Sort of like how watching an actor faking violin-playing is instantly immersion breaking. And watching an actor who’s not faking is also immersion breaking because you’re watching for whether he’s faking it.

      • Jakkar says:

        Although as a fencer your sport does actually resemble a platforming game far more than almost any other, it must be noted :>

        • VCepesh says:

          A-hem! *snobbishly* Actual fencing – HEMA, longswords, shields, mail – not sports fencing.

          • The Crane says:

            Oh, I thought you meant real fencing and not all that LARP silliness :(

        • Arglebargle says:

          Yeah, modern mainstream fencing eschews the circular techniques, and has too narrow a focus otherwise. But at least it’s not getting booted out of the Olympics….yet….

      • Buuurr says:

        I only ever studied one sword art. Houg. Look it up. Its the best and it is all I need to know.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Funny, I mentioned something similar above. However our saturday sword and staff classes were at the more civilized hour of 10am.

    • Caelyn Ellis says:

      Yeah, I don’t think games will ever produce a genuinely good simulation of melee combat because it’s way too subtle. I do think they could do a bit better at getting the feel or theme right. My background is in Viking-era weapons and I despair whenever I see axes portrayed as unsubtle, brute force weapons. A simple hand axe can hook shields, snag weapons and greatly increase your ability to disarm someone. Heck, the same applies to a bloody great dane axe!

      If I recall correctly, the Battle Brothers demo was actually pretty good on this front. It’s a turn-based tactics game, but the different weapons felt pretty distinct in terms of their skills.

  6. dsch says:

    Iaido, the Japanese art of the drawing of the sword

    This is so cool! I never knew it existed, but it sounds perfectly Japanese.

    • B.rake says:

      I practised Musoshinden Ryu in a budoukan on the quiet side of Kagoshima city, Japan.

      I wonder how countless grade school arm desk etchings and smudged pencil sketches might count toward a degree.

  7. cordeos says:

    Sad its 2D. This will not scratch my Bushido Blade itch. link to

  8. Chiron says:

    Looks like one of the more realistic sword fighting games out there, I like it.

    Better mechanics than flailing away in MnB or Chivalry.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Bushido Blade really is the father of a whole sub-genre of games, huh?

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      No, the sad thing is that it isn’t, and it really ought to be.

  10. jimmydean239 says:

    I loved Bushido Blade. Have it on my dreamcast in a crappy emulated version, but its better than nothing. Officially interested in this.

  11. Umberto Bongo says:

    Hmm. Such a nice idea and an original choice of art style, but so far it looks like something you’d find on Newgrounds. Hopefully the animation will be made more fluid before release, and more feedback when the sword makes contact; definitely needs more dismemberment and spurtage.

  12. Alex says:

    Man those “aaaa” sounds are terrible, especially when they cut between multiple scenes and it’s the exact same sound every time. They should have made it silent, I feel like that would have increased the tension and gelled better with the art style they’re emulating.

  13. blind_boy_grunt says:

    i always loved this short fighting scene from Izo. The rest of the movie has a lot of stylish, over the top fight scenes, and then suddenly there is this scene which is basically apes with sharp sticks. No beauty, just oh god i don’t want to be hit.

    edit: does anyone now how to just make it a link without embedding?

    link to

    • Hypocee says:

      Please allow me to recommend Tasogare Seibei. No other sequence of frames has ever sold me so effectively on the idea that the swords are not mythological symbols or a cinematographer’s accents but tools, being used by trained professionals for their intended purpose, in a situation that is not cool. At the same time, Seibei’s skill is sold not through a hundred murders but by a hilarious tragicomic bokken sequence As the final bonus, the action’s wrapped in an actually great little mythbusting movie about life in the late feudal period.

      • bill says:

        I was going to recommend Twilight Samurai, which is an excellent movie as well as having an excellent fight. Lucky I clicked on your link first ;-)

      • blind_boy_grunt says:

        so i watched the movie and it is pretty much everything you said, i’m glad i got to watch it. I wonder how much more tragic it all is if you know the history and know that that kind of life was basically on the way out(i think, my knowledge comes only from a little reading on wikipedia afterwards).
        So i just came back to say thank you.

  14. w0bbl3r says:

    Amazing looking at these comments that almost every person who games on PC is a master of some form of martial arts or melee weapon specialist…

    I myself took tae kwon do, and so any game that incorporates anything similar immediately seems terribly unrealistic and immersion-breaking.
    Despite the fact that I took tae kwon do only for a few weeks when I was about 8 years old.
    How many other people here with their bold yet offhand claims will admit that their actual experience with the ancient far eastern practices are just actually the same? That they, like me, knew very little back when they took these classes as children, and remember even less now, years later?
    Anyone….. ? No? Big surprise there.
    I better not upset anyone, since there are more hands registered as lethal weapons here than in the whole of the far east. I bet the keyboards being typed on are terrified on a daily basis.

    • MickMick says:

      I too took tae kwon do for a couple weeks when i was 10ish. But we had to run through the park barefoot, and it was bindy season. Fuck that!

      Still, u’d be surprised how many nerdy kids became black belts in something.

  15. Buuurr says:

    I enjoyed all the comments. A great laugh. Thanks guys and girls.

  16. Hanamigi says:

    Looks a bit arcadey for now, but maybe it will shine when played.

    Also, it reminds me of a little game I did for a jam!
    link to

  17. bill says:

    This post was great because I’ve just spent the last 20 minutes reading all about Laido and Kendo and the different dans.

    Oh, the game looks lovely too, but I tend to find that these kind of swordfighting games become a bit too random and frustrating quickly.