E3 Impression

Muramasa: The Demon Blade


Anna Marie Neufeld

Hey, bud. Can you give me a little personal space here?

I approached Muramasa with some trepidation; I hadn't played either of the prior two Vanillaware titles and I was a little concerned my lack of experience would hurt me, or that I'd feel disconnected. It wasn't long though before I was kicking serious ninja butt and racking up the combos. I did pick the easier of the two modes, so those experienced with former games should feel equally challenged as those new to the spiritual series.

The graphical style has carried on from Odin Sphere and the games looks absolutely gorgeous. I chose the female story, noting that you can play either at any time, and they are recorded separately. A five to ten minute demo quickly moved me through the various actions my character could do, and it was balanced nicely: it had a good amount of information without babystepping through minutiae. I jumped into levels and found to my excitement they were both wide and tall. I bounced up various trees and found secrets and spirit power galore. Be prepared to keep your eyes peeled as you move through zones, as many items are available as small shiny spots.

Never you mind how I can wield a sword with no arms, I have a giant nacho hat so you are wrong.

I soon met with enemies, and drew my sword. I had three in total to start and I could cycle through them as they lost their energy power. When the meter was glowing, I could change my sword and do an attack damaging all on-screen enemies. It took a bit of time to get used to doing more than pushing the A button, but once I got used to the pacing I was able to rebound missiles, dodge enemy attacks, and even juggle multiple enemies at once. At the end of combat, you are judged on how well you did and given bonuses for feats such as first strike, taking no damage, and fast resolution.

I passed through an ominous gate leading up to a powerful enemy and was able to speak to several NPCs. Turns out I had saved my friend's body from being kidnapped only for mine to be stolen! Voice acting is available both in the original Japanese as well as localized English, so players will have the choice between the two for these types of scenes. It turns out the soul who stole my body was the enemy of one of the NPCs I spoke with, and the two launched into battle with me in control! The boss took about five minutes to defeat but once I discovered I could leap out of most of his more devastating attacks (and slash downwards while he lay helpless on the ground) I got into a good rhythm and cheered when he finally went down with a final blow. At that point the demo ended, but I'm definitely thirsting for more. Can it be September already? Please?

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