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Refined Gameplay & Infinite Replayability

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Years after its release on PC and Nintendo Switch, Akane is making its way onto consoles and letting players experience the last blood-soaked night of Akane’s life once again.This arcade hack-and-slash was developed by Brazilian studio Ludic Studios, which prioritizes solid mechanics and distinct aesthetics in order to create memorable gaming experiences. Ludic Studios definitely delivers on that front, as Akane is vibrant, but it is not without its flaws.

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Akane is centered around the titular character and her final stand against the Yakuza that killed her family. Aside from some flavor text before the first couple boss fights, this is all the story that’s relayed to players, and it’s all that’s needed because Akane is a game about gameplay. Ludic Studios set out to make an arcade game, one that’s infinitely looping and asking players to survive for as long as possible. The result of this endeavor is a tight hack-and-slash with a bit of action roguelike, sprinkled in to make the loop feel more rewarding and engaging.

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Players have the option of playing through a tutorial mode or jumping straight into the action, though it’s better to jump into the tutorial to get the basic premise of the game’s controls and context for Akane’s killing spree. The gameplay is simple as it revolves around slashing, dashing, and shooting to take down enemies, as well as two abilities that Akane can use after building up adrenaline through combos. In this case, combos are a matter of keeping the time between kills to a minimum rather than making sure the hits never stop as seen in the Devil May Cry series and similar hack-and-slash titles.

To achieve these combos, Akane cuts through enemies with a katana as well as shoot them with her gun. Ludic Studios has done a fantastic job of making these two mechanics interdependent by giving Akane a stamina bar as well as limited ammunition to manage. This means that players must frequently switch between the two in order to survive the endless horde of Yakuza and Katsuro, the cybernetically enhanced boss that appears after every 100 kills. Additionally, Akane can deflect projectiles and sword strikes, but this mechanic unfortunately represents Akane‘s main and often frustrating flaw.

Akane struggles with accuracy and precision, and with the game utilizing a one-hit kill system, a lot of deaths start to feel unfair. Enemy gunmen and Katsuro’s offensive kit are designed for precise deflections and parries to stun or kill, but the timing never feels consistent and there are even times when the deflecting animation ends mid-attack, resulting in death. Thankfully, Katsuro will tire after three attacks and bullets can be dodged, but this approach renders the deflecting mechanic useless. Another frequent example of this issue is the katana’s accuracy, as it often appears to hit an enemy, only for them to hit Akane and end the run. Things like katana accuracy and bullet accuracy are tracked as challenges that will unlock better gear once completed, increasing frustration.

Another potential hurdle for Akane is that it takes place in a single square level and requires players to defeat the same enemies ad infinitum, which runs the risk of getting stale. Thankfully it’s an intriguing gameplay experience, so players may not play it for long sittings but the desire to jump back in later is strong. One impression that came up time and again while playing is that this game would be perfect for mobile, with its limited setting, simple controls, and “jump in and play” mentality. While Akane is unfortunately not available on mobile platforms, it’s made a solid transition to consoles and is well worth picking up.

Akane is available September 20 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5, and available now for PC and Nintendo Switch. Screen Rant was provided with an Xbox Series S download for the purpose of this review.

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