Dawn of the Samurai may not be the most violent or
action-packed Samurai or Ninja game on the market
but it strives for something different - and succeeds.
Genji manages to capture the enchanting nuances of
an ancient culture and its myths in an artistic style
seldom attained in videogames. The story is almost
a thousand years old but it's brought to life with
an urgency that makes it truly compelling and immediate.
values in Genji are right on the money. Nothing has
been changed from the original Japanese release which
is important since the story takes place in 1159 and
incorporates historical Japanese situations and mythology.
It's a very escapist world and the only complaint
that I have is that the game is too short.
oppressive Samurai clan called the Heishi have invaded
the land of Kyo upsetting the feudal system that has
been the status quo for generations. The Heishi are
empowered with mystical gemstones called Amahagane
which give them incredible fighting skills. Yoshitune
and Benkei are two righteous warriors that are prepared
to take matters into their own hands, in the form
of swords, and fight the Heishi to the death while
empowering themselves with the same Amahagane stones.
will surround you but they never swamp or overpower
you. There is a certain controlled precision to the
gameplay in which you can take on countless enemies
with a deliberation and intensity that will leave
you virtually unscathed. It's not that the gameplay
is so easy, as it seems that you are superhuman. Victory
is always within your reach but so is failure. It's
not a precarious balance but you can lose it all if
you're not paying attention. You can't get too complacent
with the gameplay even though there is a lot of repetition.
is a form of bullet time. Once you gather enough magic
gems you can activate this feature which will force
all the enemies to perform a series of attacks during
which a square icon will flash prompting you to hit
the square button at the right time. Getting the timing
down will result in an instant kill or a near kill.
Used in conjunction with your Samurai sword and your
ever-increasing skills, you will revel in the feeling
of omnipotence that you appear to have over your adversaries.
The combat is never in danger of becoming so difficult
that it interrupts the flow of the story as told through
much in the way of detail is left out of the production.
The game has great graphics which are exploited in
the backgrounds, character models and elegant animation.
There is some slowdown during the bullet time feature
but other than that the game is technically sound.
And speaking of sound, the music is moody and atmospheric.
It literally tells the tale in the language of music.
Dawn of the Samurai plays like an interactive movie.
It could use more variety in the gameplay but the
scripted events are designed to give the game a specific
direction and flow. Genji still allows you to hack
and slash to your heart's content but it also lets
you stop and smell the roses along the way. There
is a delicateness in the story that is inextricably
linked to the violent savagery of the gameplay. It's
both sweet and sour or yin and yang. It's Japanese
- go figure.