Swipes of a finger become slashes of a razor-sharp katana in Samurai: Way of the Warrior. On a mission of vengeance, you control a samurai's sword in this beautiful hack 'n' slash adventure set in the heyday of feudal Japan.
Not all is bright in the land of the rising sun, however, as shallow, repetitive gameplay cuts short its potential.
Battling the minions and lieutenants of the nefarious Hattoro involves unsheathing your katana with left, right and upward swipes. You begin with three simple skills, acquiring additional combos through experience earned over the course of seven missions. All 12 combos draw from the same trio of moves, the order varied to yield different attacks.
As you tap to move through each lushly drawn level, the nearest enemy is automatically targeted the moment you issue an attack. Timing is critical, as opposing samurai can evade and even counter blows. Upon finishing an attack, a quick follow up slash signals your samurai to avoid any enemy advance.
Such simplicity gives Samurai: Way of the Warrior great accessibility, but little depth. With only three basic actions arranged into a dozen indistinguishable combos, there's not much variety to the combat. It's difficult not to feel as though you're just scribbling over the screen.
The ability to block and to perform more complex moves would add a sorely needed dimension. An option to upgrade your samurai or even enhance the power of your attacks would also be welcome.
Even the game's features leave much to be desired. The short Story mode is joined by a Dojo where you can fight countless waves of enemy samurai for high scores. Facebook Connect or Twitter integration would be great here. A spellcheck is missing as well: nearly every storyboard features typos and misspelled words.
There's greater detail in the graphics than in the gameplay, which is to say Samurai: Way of the Warrior needs an infusion of variety and depth. The potential is there for a visceral samurai showdown - it just needs to be polished up and unleashed.