Akane Review

Death is inevitable in Akane. The question is, how many Yakuza can you take with you?

For the titular Akane, life hasn’t been easy. Her parents were murdered when she was young, and so she’s spent her years exacting revenge while also fighting crime. But now she’s found herself cornered with no way out. Tonight she dies, but she’s going to put up one hell of a fight.

It’s the perfect set-up for an arena based, arcade-styled slasher, where your only aim is to see how many Yakuza you can kill before you meet your demise. And that’s exactly what Akane is. Only a small handful of enemy types are on offer, but each approach you in their own dangerous way. And if you survive long enough you’ll face off against a powerful boss. Though if you best him, he’ll only return stronger at a later date.

Your primary weapon with which to fight the Yakuza is a katana, but you can only swing it so many times consecutively before you run out of stamina. You also have a pistol, but only a limited number of bullets, which must be replenished by killing enemies with your sword. You need to strike a balance with both, then, and use your dodging and evasion skills in those rare moments you’re a sitting duck.

Play effectively, though, and you should never find yourself vulnerable, especially when you can also enter a defensive stance momentarily, deflecting bullets and sword strikes alike. Though when it comes to Akane, it pays to play offensively. Build up your combo streak by killing Yakuza and a gauge at the bottom of the screen also fills. When one bar is full, you can unleash a devastating dash that eviscerates all in its path. Full the bar entirely, and you can hammer the attack button like a maniac, killing anything on screen. Nice.

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Let it be known that death can come fast in Akane, however. Just one hit will take you down, so whether it’s a gun-wielding yakuza that you didn’t spot, or a grunt that gets lucky with a sword slash you struggled to avoid, you’re bound to die lots of times before you have any truly impressive runs. As you can probably imagine, the action can become repetitive, but this is a game that’s best enjoyed in small doses. It’s the perfect palate cleanser between games, in fact.

There is an effort to spice things up and keep you engaged, too. By meeting certain criteria you’ll unlock new weapons and gear for Akane to equip and wear. There are numerous guns, for example, each offering a unique way to deal with enemies at range. Along with numerous swords, boots and other accessories, the gameplay can be tweaked to not only give you an advantage, but also keep the action feeling somewhat fresh.

With its gameplay backed up with stylish pixelated visuals and a banging soundtrack, there’s a lot to like about Akane. It’s a game that’s easy to pick up but hard to master, fun to jump into for just a few minutes of fast-paced action whenever the urge arises. Play it for much longer, and the feeling of repetition is sure to creep in. But thanks to its budget price, you’re guaranteed to not feel short changed by what’s on offer.


Akane Review: GameSpew’s Score

This review of Akane is based on the PS4 version of the game (played on PS5), via a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC.