Afro Samurai has been a favorite among anime and manga fans for years. When the anime debuted in 2007, it was a massive hit. Samuel L Jackson starred as the titular hero as he went on a journey of revenge against the man who killed his father. Though not wholly original, it was indeed gripping. This in turn inspired the 2009 video game which showed a similar version of events as that on the series. Though the game wasn’t widely praised, it was still a very fun fighting platformer which took a further look into the world of the futuristic feudal Japan. Then, six years later, we get a “sequel”/spin-off to said game. As the title suggests, it has a strong focus on Kuma/Jinno as he…seeks revenge! He looks to go defeat Afro Samurai and kill him following the death of his family and the wounding of his adopted sister Otsuru, being haunted by memories of them. So, we have a Kuma who has been hacked to pieces and literally puts himself together again to fight Afro. Also, the soundtrack is provided by The RZA once again! Sounds good doesn’t it? Well, that all changes here…
While the idea to the game is nice to see a fresh take on the Afro Samurai story, the execution is unfortunately not as great. We get a strong focus on Kuma and his relationship with Brother 3 of the empty seven. After initially fighting, the two team up on a quest to find Afro Samurai and destroy him. To do this, they first start their journey to get the legendary headbands. The story is told large via pictures and sound clips, though some of them clips sound like they were made off of an old CB radio. The fighting sequences consist of mostly one button hits, no real combos or combinations available. A couple finishing moves and one or two altered attacks is the best you get. Graphic wise, I am a fan of the comic-like imagery, but it is rather clunky and the animation of talking characters is laughably bad. Also, with this being 2015, the graphics look like they would fit in with the graphics engine of a decade ago.
While not the worst game I have ever played (I still consider Too Human as the worst game I have ever played as it was always super clunky and having to wait to respawn was just painful, and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct took a great idea and made it purely abysmal and tiring to play!), it really isn’t a great start for a trilogy of games. At around two and a half hours, the game is relatively short. Though returning voice actors Yuri Lowenthal and Phil LaMarr make a great impact bringing Kuma and Brother 3 back to us, would it not have been great to have had Samuel L Jackson at least make an appearance as Afro Samurai or even as the comical Ninja Ninja? Maybe in volume 2 and 3 we will have them and get a more prominent appearance from the title hero (and maybe a level or two as Afro). The music is fun, it’s great to keep with what we know, but a few more tracks would be nice. Also, please do some tuning on your combat system, and make the gameplay a bit smoother. I have faith the rest of the trilogy will make a huge improvement and I will certainly be playing the next two (as I bought the pack for the trilogy, so I may as well do it now). Volume 2 is due out soon! Redacted, please save this game and make it brilliant! If you even make a patch improving volume 1, I shall make the rating better!
Final Rating: 4/10
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove