Developer Digital Furnace dropped their side-scrolling beat-’em-up on Steam Early Access today, and what can be said is that the game has a lot of flair and promise, but the roughness never goes away as you manhandle demon after identical-looking demon through this supposedly two-level alpha release. I say supposedly, because the game is so freaking hard I can’t beat the first level.

Hey, I don’t suck. You suck.

Ok let’s go back to being friends so I can tell you about the game.

Right out of the gate Onikira looks really nice. The story is told through illustration that are a bit closer to comic than anime, and in gameplay the backgrounds are very interesting and colorful. The plot involves a samurai named Jiro defending the earth from an evil demon or something. You know, just enough to get you into battle.

Combat involves mostly three attacks which change depending on which weapon you’re wielding. With an Xbox controller your basic attack is X, which can be repeated endlessly, and Y which has a different effect depending if you are on the ground or in the air. For instance, with the default katana, if you are on the ground, pressing Y will cause Jiro to slice in an upward stroke, sending the enemy into the air, and when jumping up to meet the enemy, pressing Y will swing down the sword, slamming them into the ground.

The gameplay itself in its current state is somewhat stripped down, which is of course to be expected of an early release, but I was hoping for a bit more. The only two enemies I encountered during what I imagine to be most of the first level, were a walking drone-like enemy with a sword, and a floating head that shot lasers every few seconds at my current position. The heads were really annoying and had to be taken care of as soon as they appeared or else I was being pelted by lasers non-stop. And on top of that, the lasers were difficult to make out a given that the background’s similar hue.

As I mentioned before, the current release is difficult, with no health items and few checkpoints. When falling off buildings, it wasn’t uncommon for the character to reappear right above the gap and fall to his death again. All in all the gameplay didn’t reward the continual punishment enough, and I gave up after 30 mins.

Final word: The game has a lot of potential. Nice visuals, and room to expand the gameplay by way of varied enemies and perhaps power-ups/items. If there was perhaps one health boost per one million lasers that was fire at my head I perhaps would have stuck around to see the second level and/or boss, but as it is now, I’ll be waiting to see how this one polishes up before playing again.

It’s real cheap (only 5 bucks) until Nov 21, so go grab it now if you want to see it in action.

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