MURAMASA REBIRTH REVIEW
The Hazy Legend of Murumasa finally finds the home itís always deserved on the Vita.
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Dec 6, 2013 10:09 (139 days ago)
Written by: Joe
Murumasa: The Demon Blade (review here) seemed like a case of wrong place, wrong time when it released on the Wii four years ago. Launching to an audience that was primarily casual gamers, the hardcore hack and slash had trouble finding its niche. Despite being one of the best games the Wii had to offer, it passed a lot of people by.
Thankfully, Murumasa has been given a second life on Playstation Vita, benefitting from a new HD sheen befitting its beautiful art, tighter controls for its more hectic moments, a completely overhauled localization and the promise of additional content to come. With these changes, along with a budget price tag and - more importantly - an eager audience, Vanillaware deliver one of their strongest titles yet with "Muramasa Rebirth".
The story of Murumasa revolves around two central, playable characters - Monohime and Kisuke - and their respective treks through an Edo-period Japan, full of demons, shoguns, and Samurai hiding amidst the bamboo.
After choosing one of the characters at the beginning of the game - Kisuke is tailored more for newcomers whilst Monohime's path offers a decent amount of challenge - you experience the story of Murumasa from their persepctive. Kisuke cannot remember the crime for which he is being chased, whilst Monohime is a princess who has been possessed by the soul of accidentally took over the wrong body.
Both tales duck and weave through a loose central narrative and they often surprised me by how well these individual threads are woven. Once you've finished one characters campaign, the allure of playing it all again from the other's perspective proves too enticing to resist. The new translation improves significantly upon the original release and the entire package provides a compelling reason to play besides the gameplay.
The gameplay is, however, is even more excellent. The combat system is deceptively deep, relying on intuitive controls to provide the fluid movement of your character and their blade as you slash your way through the hoards of enemies that throw themselves at you over the two campaigns. During these battles you must maintain your weapons strength by erratically switching out between the hundreds of swords and katanas you can collect, and maintain your own health by careful healing, dodging and parrying, and generally causing a whirlwind of havoc with your myriad of blades.
The battles are a lot of fun, but some of the more populated fights can become a little too frantic. The boss battles are excellent, often channelling the likes of Ninja Gaiden for one on one, restrained swordplay against an equally adept foe.
Helpfully, Rebirth allows you to customize its button layout should you find the default set up not working for you. This is a welcome addition as portable gaming is often an entirely different beast from its console brethren. With this addition I was able to find a comfortable solution to such a hectic game on the go.
If you're not shredding your way through your enemies you can explore the beautiful world Murumasa has to offer; finding items and secrets, talking to NPCs or discovering the endless supply of blades the game hides away, each with their own unique skills. All too often, however, the game asks you to backtrack across a great expanse needlessly. If the title didn't look as fantastic as it does it would be a serious problem. Luckily, Murumasa Rebirth is beautiful.