GDC 2015 – Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Preview
We have returned to the world of Afro Samurai, but it’s one of Afro’s closest friends, Kuma, that gets a turn to fight and be the hero. Kuma is no ordinary being. as he is a cybernetically enhanced killing machine that is destined to destroy anyone that gets in his way. I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with David Robinson, President and Founder of Redacted Games, as he showed off his team’s latest Afro Samurai adventure.
The story picks up where the original title left off, but playing the previous game isn’t a prerequisite to understanding the story arch as you’ll get a brief run down of what happened previously. The action is fast paced, with improved graphics, and a heavily hip-hop influenced sound track that will keep the tempo up — and keep it as high strung as this bad ass bear Kuma is himself. The room I saw all the action in had a huge wall of speakers that were pumping out the beats and occasionally pumped out a blast of sound that had to be dodged; adding to the complexity of the action.
Kuma is clearly a bear on a mission and he’s also teachable. As you face off and defeat the many bosses of the game, you’ll pick up fighting styles that the bosses used against you. These styles can be changed out on the fly and some enemies require a certain style to defeat them. And if you have a room full of bad guys with several different types attacking you, you’ll not only need to know who’s who, but you’ll also need to know what’s what so you can defeat them before they kick your ass. Your style menu is a quick pop-up circle for easy access, but once you have all of the 10 or so styles, selecting any given one might become a memory lesson, as you’ll probably be better off memorizing what’s where instead of trying to read the style names.
The graphics for the game are topnotch with attack and defense animations that are very smooth, with flips and kicks galore. I was only shown a short demo of the gameplay, but what I saw was both impressive and well detailed. David clearly knew what he was doing and was swapping out styles with such fluidity that it looked seamless. The room he was fighting in came alive around him, with the speakers blaring,and other bad guys shooting rockets at him from afar. Seeing him kick a rocket and have it fly back at the shooter, while not a simple looking task, looked like something that could be learned fairly easy, making this a decent pick-up-and-play game.
The camera has been changed to use a fixed perspective that allows the action to be more centered and right in front of you. With having to quickly determine your foes, and then match a style accordingly, that is a welcome change. Using a fixed camera should make the game smoother and allow the player to be more efficient with their attacks and be able to see the type of enemy you’re facing, and where they’re located. This makes the game a little easier than the first, and makes it much easier when your foes have you outnumbered ten to one.
The game will have a couch co-op mode so you can play with friends but wont have online co-op. While this is disappointing, at least you’ll be able to have someone join you locally with another controller. Content for the game will be episodic, with three episodes guaranteed, and more possible depending on how well the game is received. The first three episodes will be spaced out with around six weeks between them, so the initial gameplay will keep you busy for a while.
Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma looks to build on the successes of the original title, while improving upon the camera and action sequences. The game doesn’t have a set release date yet, but the studio is aiming for a release date sometime later this year.