09th Oct2015

‘Afro Samurai 2′ Review (PS4)

by Phil Wheat

AS2-Screenshot

Based on the animated series of the same name, the original Afro Samurai game was something of an underground hit with gamers, especially those that also enjoyed the TV show on which is was based. Whilst the game didn’t reach the dizzy heights of being a mainstream (aka financial) success, it did garner enough of a cult following that we finally have – some 6 years after the game was released on PS3 and Xbox 360 – a sequel. Even if its a digital-only title…

Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma is, like the first game, 3rd person action-come-beat’em-up sequel that picks up where the first game left off. Written by New York Times Best Selling Author Jim DeFelice, the story follows the path of Kuma, a cybernetically enhanced killing machine with a bear’s head who was made for one purpose, to kill Afro.

Volume 1, available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC, is the first of three distinct volumes that will be released, each with its own new story arc, characters and combat styles to master, plus original soundtracks by up and coming indie hip hop artists that have been mentored by music producer and rapper RZA of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan.

Released by US based indie video game publisher Versus Evil and developed by Redacted Studios, Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma – Volume 1 features the same distinctive art atyle that made the original game such a stand out title, mixing the traditional beat’em-up with the type of visual novel-style gameplay you don’t typically see outside of the Far East. Speaking of novels, Afro Samurai 2 has one hell of a story – even if, at times, it does seem overly complex and convoluted. But better to have a story than none at all!

In the end though it’s the story and the way it unfolds that will keep you interested in this game; for the combat is too repetitive to hold players attention. Yes, despite the various “fighting styles” that are unlocked as you progress through the game, all it really takes to progress through the majority of Afro Samurai 2‘s fights is a little bit of patience, a lot of button mashing and – as the game signals when you can literally execute your enemies with (at least in the PS4 version) – one tap of the circle button. Although it’s still incredibly satisying to see the myriad of ways in which Kuma dispatches his enemies – blood, dismemberments, decapitations and all!

Definitely a game for grown-ups only, Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma is not afraid to go to some dark places – so dark that the game goes from typical hack ‘n’ slash to a psychological existential crisis played out on the screen within the blink of an eye.. Exploring Kuma’s fractured and fragile psyche, his issues with himself and with Afro, and the effect his life has had on others (including the grim reality that he is responsible for the deaths of a LOT of people). All of which makes Afro Samurai 2 one of the strangest, yet most compelling, fighting games to ever grace the PS4.

Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma – Volume 1 is available now on PS4, PC and Xbox One.

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