A cyberpunk samurai abandons her wrecked motorcycle and makes a last stand against a tide of futuristic Yakuza goons, sword in hand and revolver at her hip. I've played a few rounds of Akane, Ludic Studios's debut arcade slash 'em up and had a good time with it, so wanted to share some quick thoughts.
Akane feels a bit like a cooler, more considered Tormentor X Punisher - a short, stylish arcade game where death seems inevitable and the music makes it all feel like a spin around a particularly blood-slick dance floor. It's out now, only costs a couple quid, and is trailered below.
While Tormentor X Punisher was about twitch reflexes and filtering order from chaotic screen-shake, Akane feels more considered in its pacing - fitting for a cyber-samurai. It's all about resource management. You die in one hit, but to avoid that you'll juggle stamina on your melee attacks, dash-steps, a temporary block stance and a limited but recharging stock of bullets for your gun. There's also a pair of special moves, charged by lengthy combos. The cheaper of the two cuts a path through foes, the other is a satisfying screen-clearing reset.
While I've not managed it yet, there's more guns, swords and boots to unlock that change how your moves work - something I'm looking forward to exploring. I also notice that one of the unlockable weapons is the Graviton Beam Emitter from moody manga Blame!, a reference I will always appreciate. There's increasingly tough boss battles with a recurring rival, a steady escalation in enemy density and attack types, and some lovely neon lighting effects that mask any shortcomings in the small but lively character sprites. It's good fun and the price of a decent cup of coffee.
While I've not played enough of Akane for the cracks to start showing, one complaint I can raise is that there doesn't seem to be any online leaderboards. You'll be chasing nobody's scores but your own here, I'm afraid.