Seven Samurai 20XX Updated Impressions

We go hands-on with a near-final North American build of the action game inspired by Akira Kurosawa's classic movie.

Earlier this year, we posted impressions of the Japanese version of Seven Samurai 20XX, Sammy Studios' hack-and-slash action game loosely inspired by the 1954 Kurosawa film Seven Samurai. We were surprised to find that the dialogue throughout that version of the game had already been recorded in English. But as it turns out, Sammy's gone back to the drawing board with all the voice-over and has done it all over for North American audiences. The result, frankly, is much better. While the voice actors in the Japanese version of the game were certainly fluent in English, that's not really saying much. Meanwhile, the voice work in the North American version of the game seems to do a better job of capturing the characters' respective personalities and attitudes.

As for the gameplay of Seven Samurai 20XX, understandably it hasn't changed much. This is a pure, action-packed hack-and-slash game in which you'll routinely find yourself taking on tons of enemies at once. As the reluctant hero Natoe, you'll slice your way through legions of robotic warriors who'll try to gang up on you but will prove no match for your speed. Natoe's combat prowess is significant when he's fighting with just one of his blades, but by pressing the L1 and R1 buttons simultaneously, you can whip out both swords for a while to wreak real havoc. You can only dual-wield your swords for a limited amount of time before having to wait a few moments to use the ability again. Yet, while the gameplay of Seven Samurai 20XX is very easy to pick up, a few special timing-based techniques allow you to extend your combos and dual-wielding antics almost indefinitely.

These techniques include "just attack," "just step," and "just guard," and they're executed by attacking, sidestepping, or blocking at just the right time. When you pull off one of these moves, you'll see a brilliant flash onscreen, and sometimes the action will dramatically slow down. As a result, you'll gain a few more moments of dual-wielding power.

Seven Samurai 20XX is an approachable game that should appeal to anime fans and should intrigue those who've seen the Kurosawa film. The connections between the game and the movie are mostly thematic, and the straightforward, no-nonsense action of the game seems to stand in rather sharp contrast to the thoughtful and methodical pace of the movie. However, one thing's for sure: The concept of this game is one-of-a-kind. We've got lots of media and previous coverage of Seven Samurai 20XX, so check it out. And stay tuned for the game's release later this month, in addition to our full review.

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