When you think of fighting games, what comes to mind? Typically, it’s specials, juggling, and fast-paced gameplay. In a genre ruled by combos, flashy moves, and beat-downs, Samurai Shodown feels like a fighting game unlike any other. But is that a good thing? Or does Samurai Shodown swing too far from the fighting genre mold? Here’s our Samurai Shodown PC Review.
Most fighting games focus on being the aggressor. Others keep your opponent off balance with juggling or combos. The unique combat in Samurai Shodown is simpler and easier to learn. It requires patience, and finesse. There are three different weapon attacks: light, medium, and heavy. Light attacks are quick and deal little damage. Whereas heavy attacks can deal up to twenty percent damage but are slow. While medium attacks are somewhere in between. There is also a kick attack which is just as fast and weak as the light attack. Special moves consist of your typical quarter-circle forward motions. This low barrier of entry makes Samurai Shodown an excellent introduction for beginners.
Each of the sixteen characters has vastly different fighting styles. They each move differently and have their own unique animations for each attack. While this may seem like just a nice touch in other fighting games, here it makes a huge difference. And this is where gameplay gets interesting. Samurai Shodown is a game about patience. If you know a fighter well enough, you can read their movements well enough to know when to dodge an attack. If you are fast enough, you can even block their attack and knock their weapon from their hands. But even then, you cannot let your guard down as fighters can even perform a Blade Catch when they are unarmed.
Blocking or dodging your opponent’s heavy attack leaves them completely vulnerable allowing you to punish them mercilessly for their mistake. Once per battle, each fighter can perform a super special move that can deal up to seventy percent damage. And no, that is not a typo folk. These super special moves can easily become instant kill moves. Mechanics like this create tense high-risk/high-reward moments because if you miss your super special, you could be on the receiving end of your opponent’s super special. If you are quick enough, however, or your opponent slow enough, you can block their attack. But opponents can anticipate your block with a counter-block of their own. This is what makes Samurai Shodown a fighting game deserving of its own sub-genre. No other fighting game has this intense fear factor where your first big mistake could be your last. Matches are intense when you can find one.
And that is one of the biggest flaws of this game. Through no fault of their own, there is not much of an audience. On a Friday evening, fifteen minutes passed before I was able to find a match online. Lacking human opponents, forces players to go to single-player content. The story mode is antiquated and quickly becomes repetitive. This will cause players to skip through each of the cutscenes they unlock as they play through the story mode to get to the action faster. The Dojo mode allows the game to learn the players’ fighting patterns to create AI ghosts to fight against sounds amazing in theory. Ultimately, the ghosts mostly hop around slashing wildly at thin air.
While there is plenty to complain about, Samurai Shodown is gorgeous. Each stage feels like it belongs in Feudal Japan. The vivid colors never get tiresome as each character feels like they stepped out of an anime. The loading times have also improved dramatically from last year’s console release. Although I did play this with the game installed on my solid-state drive, I honestly cannot state if the loading times are still bad if you are using a regular HDD.
Samurai Shodown (PC) Review – Verdict
Full disclosure here: I want Samurai Shodown to be successful. I want it to be the next staple series in the fighting scene. Matches will have you at the edge of your seat trying to goad your opponent into making a mistake and vice versa. Truth be told, it has the makings to be a competitor. But with its current lack of an online audience, outdated story mode, and lack of single-player content, I do not have high hopes. Samurai Shodown is a must-play for any fans of the fighting genre, but do not be surprised if you quickly move on from it.