Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a game that surprised and delighted me frequently, and not in many of the ways I initially guessed. Certainly, there was “Backgrounds are stunning” and “That is the best-looking, gosh-darn dango I’ve ever seen.” But then in comes “This game has 4 DLCs on Vita, and each one stars a different character with a different control scheme?” or “There are 6 endings, and each one feels justified,” and, winning all the marbles (pun intended), “My catgirl just pounded a shapeshifting tanuki’s testicles into the beautifully-detailed dust.”
Muramasa is a marvelously accessible, hack-and-slash RPG, and this approachability is both intentional and warranted. For a game suffused with such natural beauty and wonder, it’s no wonder the team at Vanillaware made the base difficulty a button-mashing mochi walk, even for the uninitiated. Though the steeper challenge options may give the more dextrous parts of your brain a workout, the choice I made to play this game on the low “Legend” difficulty allowed every bit of Muramasa‘s strengths to shine; namely visual grandeur, fluid swordplay, and brisk pacing. The game did all of this while preventing the less-inspired design elements, like the low combat ceiling, overly frequent random encounters, and necessary backtracking from becoming onerous.
Though Muramasa is more “solid and enjoyable” than it is revelatory, it is still a lovely little ARPG that was more polished, thoughtful, and ambitious than I had originally expected, and I’d have very few qualms recommending it to anyone with a Vita and an interest in the ever-sharpening works of George Kamitani and the Vanillaware team.
Final Thoughts posts are just short reviews.
But today, a new path I shall choose.
For The Demon Blade,
My decision is made;
I will try to compose two haikus.
Two youths, souls borrowed
Japan, rife with ghosts and gods
One hundred eight swords
The characters! The backgrounds!
Put it on the Switch