E3 2015: Seek Vengeance in Afro Samurai 2

The Afro Samurai video game was an interesting proposition. It sounded like something that would work well, but in the end this 2009 release was basically glossed over by everyone but diehard fans. Even then, most recognized that it wasn’t nearly as good as it should have been given the source material. It’s been a long time but now Redacted Studios is taking on a sequel with Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma. And yes, it does actually follow after the events of the first game, though you won’t be required to remember back (or have played it at all) to dive right in.

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Players jump into the game as Kuma, the tall, lanky fellow wearing a freakish stuffed bear head. The goal? Well, you’re going to want to basically kill everything in sight. Simple goal, right? One of the complaints with the original game was that combat was lackluster — boring, honestly. As such, the developers have approached it from a new angle. Now there is not just one fighting style but three. These three that were displayed include Afro Style, Kuma Style, and Master Style. These can be switched between at will and each confers its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, Kuma Style is focused purely on punishing enemies with super damaging moves. Defense? Nope, that’s not even in Kuma’s dictionary.

An enemy showcased was one which could only be killed via a specific move available in Afro Style. Luckily, the game displayed this information right on screen so players know. My concern is that too many characters with special requirements to kill them may slow down the pace of battle. After all, the fun of a good hack ‘n’ slash is being able to go wild with attacks and discovering great combos as you go along. It’s not (usually) about slowing down and following rules that the game dictates. Here’s hoping this was just a special tutorial-style circumstance!

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Visually, Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma makes its anime and manga origins known. The characters have a strong graphical effect with the cel shading drawn on in a manga style. With that said, something about the artwork’s implementation makes this game look far older than it is. I’m not sure why that’s the case, though. It may have something to do with the hordes of same-looking enemy attacking Kuma, or it could be the backdrops which seem far less inspired than the main characters. Perhaps it was just due to the demonstration area being rather unexciting.

There’s something to the game, though it remains to be seen just how many fans of Afro Samurai are still out there demanding a new release. At its best, Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma might be able to convert people to the fandom after a playthrough. The game is planned for release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One later this year.