The premise is simple: you play as Akane and must kill as many Yakuza as possible in her heroic last stand. This stylish, one-hit-kill arena combat game with cyberpunk, neon-infused visuals originally released on PC late last year, but now its brilliance has been ported over to Nintendo Switch.
Akane revolves around this notion of one-hit-kills, and that extends to Akane herself, meaning she is as powerful as she is fragile. Cleaving a path through 100 enemies leads to a fight with a tougher enemy called Katsuro, who appears before you’re able to move on to the next 100. Although Katsuro can die in one hit, he equals and exceeds your own mobility and firepower.
Akane’s fragility is built on with the addition of ability and status changing equipment which improves on the arsenal of tools she has. Each piece of equipment is unlocked by meeting unique in-game challenges that require players to play in more creative and challenging ways. These challenges add variety to the core gameplay loop while rewarding players with new abilities and weapons, creating goals for players to focus on.
Each of the different weapons and swords have their own strengths and weaknesses in the arena, such as a shotgun with a powerful spread but a limited ammo count. It’s up to you as the player to figure out what works for you and create builds around your own play style, building up to Akane’s awesome screen-clearing Samurai Skills.
Akane delivers its gameplay in a stylish, anime-inspired package that perfectly complements the world it is trying to sell. The flashing neon lights pop against the urban city environment as the blood of your enemies stains the very arena floor that Akane stands on. The look goes a long way to building Akane as something unique.
This is further backed up by a pulsating electronic soundtrack that took my by surprise. Across the Akane’s five or six songs, there is a level of quality I was not expecting. I instantly found myself listening to the soundtrack outside of the game, something I haven’t done since playing Hotline Miami 2.
Unfortunately, Akane does have its shortcomings. The core gameplay is an absolute blast, but there’s a real lack of content on offer. There are weapons and abilities to unlock, but it all plays out in the same arena meaning Akane can become repetitive. This is a shame, as it’s something that could quite easily be improved upon with some fresh arena layouts or environments. Then again, the game isn’t even £5 on the eShop, so you can excuse a lightness to the content.
Performance on the Switch can be a bit choppy in places with frames dropping depending on the number of onscreen enemies. The vertical slash ability also causes Akane to jitter, making her hard to control coming out of it due to the dropped frames. This is a shame as the bulk of the combat feels smooth and responsive.