East meets West in this side-scrolling beat-em-up.

Title: Samurai / Gunslinger
Platform: PC (Previewed)
Developer: Synception Studios
Publisher: Synception Studios
Price: Not Announced
Release date: Not Announced
TL;DR: Cowboy and Samurai switch places in a side-scrolling beat-em-up.
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Samurai / Gunslinger from Synception Studios is a side-scrolling beat-em-up based upon their comic of the same name. Starring Angar who is an emotionally repressed Samurai with the ability to summon a mystical suit of armour, and Shawna who’s a wild west outlaw with supernatural revolvers.

For the demo of Samurai / Gunslinger, I got to play as Shawna – that is after experiencing a rather confusing series of comic storyboard images that were in a nonsensical order. I take it the images/video were perhaps borrowed from their comic counterpart to add some backstory to the game, but not having read the comics I was left more confused as to the story that was trying to be setup.

With retro side-scrolling graphics reminiscent of Double Dragon the adventure begins. Shawna is on what looks like a road in feudal Japan with an endless throng of people nervously running around in the background. The likely reason for this is the groups of armour-clad soldiers running to greet you and snipers on the rooftops of the building in the background.

Before any combat begins tutorials start popping up on the screen listing controls; first off the standard W, A, S, D, for up, left, down, right. Then after a few seconds, some combat controls are presented. Kick with J, shoot with K, and unleash your Ultimate Form with O, and more and more as the level goes on. I for block, R for reload, holding E + K for charged shots, Combo’s for blocking head, torso, and legs, combo’s for attacking head, torso, and legs, L (and direction) for grappling and sometimes a finishing move, I soon found that I didn’t have enough fingers or dexterity for all the controls and was slightly confused. Pausing and looking at the control scheme, unfortunately, didn’t display all of the controls that were being listed in the in-game tutorial.

As Shawna, you have access to her revolvers and meaty kicks, the kicks are limitless with no drain on energy or any other type of resource. The revolvers, however, have a finite ammo supply and ammo is only replenished in the demo from occasional drops from snipers or from smashing signs and statues through the level. I found on my first playthrough that I soon ran out of ammo and that it wasn’t that effective, with enemies having the ability to block shots with their weapons.

Kicks were the way to go – with every enemy who dared to approach my personal space getting a swift kick to the nadgers, and that’s where a lot of the disappointment in the combat came from for me. Movement and combat did not feel very responsive, and sprite/hitbox detection was also a little iffy. I was able to stand on top of mobs and wiggle left and right and they wouldn’t attack me, and then I would just kick them to death, so all the lovely combo’s and body targetting could be mostly ignored for one-button spamming.

This continued through the level until the end boss, I still had no bullets and spent longer than desired trying to kick the boss to death, never building enough energy to pop into Ultimate Form to finish him. Eventually, the kicking paid off and the boss keeled over and the level was done. Then the part of the game which offers some story and “Choose-Your-Adventure” style gameplay kicked off. This consisted of answering some multiple-choice questions whilst assigning an emoji to your responses (happy, sad, aggressive etc.) a small heart would pop up with some numbers and the questions would keep rolling until the level ended; all this whilst set to a timer to help rush your answers.

Feeling more confident of the controls and required strategy for playing Samurai / Gunslinger I partook in a second playthrough, this time around it took 1/100 of the time to complete the level as I used just 2 bullets and kicked enemies until my power meter was full and then used the Ultimate Form Charged-Shot to dispense all of the enemies on the screen. Rinse and repeated this formula all the way to the last boss who died in one shot.

It’s hard to make any serious judgement on just one level but for me, the combat and multiple-choice story options at the level end were very lacklustre. I would have preferred to see controller support (didn’t pick up my Xbox One controller) and far more responsive combat. But, let’s not forget this is a work-in-progress and there is still co-op play and extra refining to do. It will be interesting to see how Angar and her magic armour alter the playstyle of the game and how diverse the different levels, enemies, and bosses help to increase playability.

The Good:

  • Interesting premise.
  • Retro graphics and soundtrack.

The Bad:

  • Control Scheme.
  • Combat.
  • Multiple choice emoji questions.

Family Focus

ESRB: No Rating as of yet for this preview. PEGI: No Rating as of yet for this preview.

Not much gore, but there is gunplay and torrential kicking.

Disclaimer: This preview is based on a demo build of the game provided by PR for the purpose of this review.