Review: Samurai Shodown – PC Version – A Slash in the Right Direction
For a franchise that started its journey back in 1993, Samurai Shodown has been a solid fighting title during its early days. Developed and published by SNK Corporation, the latest Samurai Shodown has finally made its appearance on PC as well since its console release in 2019. When you carry over the title of a franchise that fans loved and then the franchise has been in the dark for a long time, the first title to arrive on modern consoles has a huge legacy to carry over. The same is the case with the newly released Samurai Shodown for PC. This is our review of the PC version of Samurai Shodown in which we swing some swords and have some bloody fights in true samurai style.
The gameplay of Samurai Shodown is pretty standard where you have four main attacks for each of the fighter in the game. You have you light and medium slash along with heavy slash and kick. You can land different combos on your enemies with the combination of these basic keys however there are no hidden or complex moves involved here which leads to easier gameplay but the fights eventually take a longer time to complete since the moves deal less damage. Each fighter comes with their own weapon which leads to unique moves and attacks including some special damage dealers which are yet pretty easy to master.
One thing that keeps the gameplay of Samurai Shodown is its footwork. While in normal games where you block your enemy’s attack, here the key is to dodge your enemy’s attacks and then step back quickly to punish them while they recover. Each weapon also comes with their stronger move sets that will allow you to punish any missed moves by your opponents. You also have the opportunity to side-step or dodge right on the spot. However, they need to be practiced well since each attack is slow and calculated, dodging them is also calculated because if you time it too late or too early, you will miss the attack opportunity. The Ultimate ability does not come with any sort of a recharge meter like in traditional fighting games so you can start dishing out pain right from the start of the game if you are good at it however the Ultimate is only allowed once during an entire match so you have to really use it at the right time.
Instead of the traditional super attack charge meter, you however do get a Rage meter which is rather used for snatching the weapons from your opponents. These are called Weapon Flipping Techniques and you can use these techniques to effectively knock out the weapons from your enemy’s hands making their attacks less effective as compared to while they are using it. Fill the Rage Meter to the max and you can unleash all the energy in the form of Rage Explosion that works more effectively with less health you have. During this phase, you are invulnerable for a short time and your opponent also gets pushed away giving you a much-needed breather if you need it.
Coming to content and replayability, you will be upset to see that the base game has pretty fewer characters, only sixteen, when compared to its rivals as well as the online community is not very big at this point. While I understand that not many people know about Samurai Shodown at this point and thus the community is pretty limited, even the singleplayer modes are just not that good to keep you busy for a long time. Overall, the game feels empty and with not a big online scene going on, you will be leaving the game and moving on much sooner than you think. This is somewhat depressing for a franchise that came out of the shadows after such a long time.
You have the normal Arcade and VS modes in the game alongside online. The stories of the fighters are fun to play with their own little cutscenes and the action leading up to a final boss battle but sadly it fails to last long. If you are a new player to Samurai Shodown who is just moving here from Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat 11, or even the last King of Fighters game, you will find the game empty and boring after a few playthroughs and trying out the short list of characters. This coupled with the limited online community makes it even duller which otherwise could have been a great PC of an iconic franchise.
Samurai Shodown is not short of its problems as well. For some reason, I had to download the game three times before I could make it to work, all thanks to Epic Games Store. After when I did manage to run the game, the loading times were exceptionally long. Running on a PC with 16 GB of DDR4 Ram, NVMe M.2 SSD, and AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, the loading times were exceptionally long and at one time I even forced shut down the game before trying it again and then waiting for a little longer for the menu to appear. Thankfully, loading times are the only thing that takes a long time in the game. Once the loading is complete, rest is pretty smooth as the game runs on 60FPS flat with a 1080p resolution. For some reason, there is no 4K support on PC and this makes me think that this is just another lazy PC port with no actual PC enhancements in place.
Online is yet another story. The server lag is pretty high and even if the pings are low, there is a notable lag while playing online which might be a little more infuriating for some players who prefer competitive online gameplay. As it comes down to me, I do not care if I win or lose online so it did not really bother me but if you are looking for smooth online gameplay, Samurai Shodown is lacking that at this point. The obvious lag in inputs is somewhat annoying and will definitely make you rage quit if you are a competitive player. Coming from a developer who is known from some of the most iconic franchises such as King of Fighters and Fatal Fury, this port looks weak however for the franchise, however, it does look like a step in the right direction as the next PC game would be better than this.
The Unreal Engine 4 really does wonders for Samurai Shodown as everything is delivered in crisp detail and fluid motion shown at flat 60 FPS and the game fully uses the hardware capabilities offered by a PC. Even if you are playing the game on a fairly old system, the game seems to perform pretty well on it apart from the long loading screens. Although it falls short in terms of content and community when compared to its competition in the fighting genre, Samurai Shodown is a title that shows that SNK is heading in the right direction. The controls are decent while the slow-paced weapon and technical combat work fine for singleplayer, it certainly seems slow on the internet where the bad servers make things even worse. Samurai Shodown is a mixed bag at this point and considering the fact that there are no PC exclusive bonuses for arriving a year late than its console counterparts, if you own a PS4 or Xbox One, just stick to the console versions and pass this one on the PC.
Final Verdict: 6.9/10
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