Saturday, October 3, 2020

Genroku Legends


I can honestly say that the Vanillaware-developed Muramasa Rebirth was easily one of the high points of my videogaming career, to date the only game I’ve given a perfect 10/10 score. I certainly don’t judge all other action roleplaying games against it, since I believe that most RPGs are unique and, in many cases, incomparable to others. Sometime after the port’s release on the PlayStation Vita did downloadable content entitled Genroku Legends become available, which I initially ignored due to wanting to move on to other RPG experiences, although certain circumstances would lead me to download the game to my system along with the DLC, a decision I definitely don’t regret.

The DLC stars four different characters: Okoi the nekomata, Gonbe the insurgent farmer, Arashimaru the ninja, and Rajyaki the Oni girl, each occurring in the same universe as Muramasa Rebirth. Each story is fairly enjoyable, deeply rooted in Japanese mythology, with the only real issues being that they barely intertwine, and don’t have a whole lot of noticeable links to the main plotlines of the duo serving as the base game’s protagonists. The translation contains a lot of polish and pushes the game’s T rating to its limit, with little if any errors in the text.

Each character has three different fighting styles, generally following the same rules as those of the two protagonists of Muramasa, with the ability of each to “break”, become significantly weaker, and need to recharge, necessitating that the player switch to a different mode, a transitory woosh damaging all enemies on the screen if the style switched to is at full capacity. Consumables that provide different effects such as healing provide combat some room for error, and while there are occasional tough spots even on the easiest difficulty, particularly regarding Gonbe’s plotline, it’s nothing a little grinding can’t counter. Regardless, the game mechanics generally serve Genroku well.

The same goes to control, with a linear structure for all stories keeping players moving in the same direction, and maps available for each area that largely prevent them from getting lost. Fast travel among visited areas doesn’t become available until post-game, but otherwise, the DLC interfaces well with players.

The soundtrack is more or less the same as it was in the main game, which isn’t a bad thing, as pretty much every track is nice, but there isn’t a whole lot of standout music. The voicework left in Japanese definitely creates an authentic feel for the Japanese-themed game, which is all in all easy on the ears.

As is expectant of a Vanillaware title, Genroku is, like the main game, eye candy, with bright, vibrant two-dimensional art direction that contains occasional 3-D effects with regards to some of the scenery during movement. The character sprites contain good anatomy and show plenty of emotions with moving lips during voiced scenes, and the environments are gorgeous. Aside from a bit of choppiness during combat, the DLC is a visual treat.

Finally, each character’s quest takes around three to four hours to complete, with plentiful lasting appeal in the form of trophies and post-game content such as bosses from the main game.

In the end, Genroku Legends is an enjoyable set of DLC that like the main quests of Muramasa Rebirth hits most of the right notes regarding the diversity in combat styles among the four playable characters, the tight control, the well-told narratives, the superb sound, and beautiful visuals. There really isn’t a whole lot of room for improvement, save perhaps the lack of fast-travel until post-game for each character, although exploration is definitely enjoyable, and those who enjoyed the main quests definitely owe it to themselves to play this supplemental content.

This review is based on a playthrough of downloaded DLC alongside the main game.

The Good:
+Four different characters with engrossing battle styles.
+Tight control.
+Great stories.
+Superb sound.
+Pretty visuals.
+Plentiful lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Fast-travel not available until postgame.

The Bottom Line:
A great set of downloadable content.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Mechanics: 10/10
Controls: 9.5/10
Story: 9.5/10
Localization: 9.5/10
Music/Sound: 9.5/10
Graphics: 9.5/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: 3-4 Hours per Character

Overall: 10/10

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