Monday, December 7, 2009

Muramasa, Pt.1

This is the first part of my three-part Muramasa review. [Part 2] [Part 3]

Last week I capped off Muramasa and ate up Modern Warfare 2, and thought it a good idea to write a few words about the former. I spent 40 hours playing Muramasa, and it was an interesting play experience partly because I had such a good time with it, and partly because I'm so reticent to recommend it to anyone else.

The Good
The first and perhaps most obvious thing to mention about Muramasa is that it is drop-dead gorgeous. I never gave Odin Sphere much patience (something I might want to remedy) but was impressed at how beautiful it was, and Muramasa is really no different. Watching sprites shift around like a moving painting was really a joy, and it's almost unfortunate that -- like most amazing visuals -- once you acclimate to them they blend into the background of your experience. Simply having such a great visual feast gives you the sense that this game was a labor of love, and as most gamers will attest, that's a wonderful thing to have in a game.

The next thing I noticed was how responsive the controls felt. Time between action intent and action is fast and makes you feel very effective and powerful, impacting multiple targets with a single strike. Muramasa's core actions are satisfying. You can perform basic combos, low attacks, dashes (on the ground, and through enemies in the air), popups, sword-breakers, dodges, and double jumps.

And enemies can press hard on these abilities, making practice against them rewarding. Bosses usually have unique attack patterns that can grant you big advantages with careful study, so there's a real sense of expertise that comes with investigating the game, which gives you many scenarios to both press on these skills and reward you for them.

So why so many reservations? Stay tuned...

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