Art in Motion

User Rating: 8.5 | Oboro Muramasa WII
Muramasa isn't really a difficult game to describe. It's not innovative in terms of gameplay, and it's not terribly deep, either. But it is an incredibly well-polished machine that satisfies on many levels.

You can play as one of two characters, and on my first playthrough I chose Momohime. Both stories take you through basically the same environments but along different paths, fighting specific bosses, and each character's story offers a unique perspective. The story is surprisingly mature, with a dark and authentic premise based on Japanese mythology. Things are slow to get going, but you're rewarded nicely as you progress through the game.

The gist of gameplay, however, pretty much revolves solely around combat. You can carry up to three swords at a time, switching out on the fly with the C button. Each of your swords has a soul gauge, and when you attack, guard or take damage, your sword weakens. If a sword's soul gauge falls too low, it will break. However, when your complete soul meter is full, your three gauges will glow; if you switch swords during this time, you'll do a special attack that damages all enemies onscreen.

Basic attacks are mapped to the A button, and each sword -- of which there are a total of 108 throughout the game -- has its own special attack, executed with the B button. The real rewards from combat come from stringing together combos based around basic attacks, specials and soul attacks.

There isn't much else to the game, really, but when you consider the amazing bosses, utterly sublime controls and breathtaking visuals, you understand the full package. Muramasa: The Demon Blade isn't a mere hack-n-slash; it's a paragon for art in gaming.

I'm sure I don't need to say anything about the visuals, but just to be sure, I experienced zero slowdown the entire time enjoying this feast for the eyes. It's an absolutely gorgeous adventure, with tons of variety, and anyone who feels this game should be a downloadable title simply has no appreciation for the incredible labor that obviously went into bringing this game to life.

Sure, it isn't the deepest experience in the world in terms of sheer gaming, but it's still a well-polished machine backed by an amazing visual and audio presentation. From the original Japanese soundtrack, to the precise, sword-swiping action, it's a game that's a masterpiece in its own right.