Samurai Riot originally saw release several years back on PC, with this Definitive Edition seeing a release on multiple other systems that aims to offer an improved version of the original game. Worth punching your way through a myriad of branching storylines? Lets find out.
Samurai Riot sees you taking on the role of one of two characters who are torn between their duty and their beliefs, as the land erupts into revolution and leaves you deciding between the peasants or your lord, with a revolutionary faction thrown in for good measure. The future of the land is down to your choices.
While the story is generally good and our silent protagonists play their part, the various routes and endings will keep you coming back for more. 8 different endings are on offer, but not only that the story and characters can noticeably change as you make your choices. Checking the trophies section of the main menu will give you a glimpse of this as you can track your paths and medals earned during stages. The game does have a solid co-op mode too, and is ideally best played that way too as it can look jarring to have the other character appear just for cutscenes and then run off, plus there are some actual mechanics different from playing alone that can come into play – PVP when disagreeing on a decision is a genuinely great idea for a coop game.
The game generally looks good, and sounds good too with a soundtrack I found enjoyable, with rock solid performance irrespective of playing portable or having the Switch docked. The sharper look to the character sprites looks a little off compared to the softer look to the backgrounds, but the game does look nice in a clean way that occasionally adds some atmospheric ambience when needed.
I did encounter a few bugs worth mentioning, such as an unresponsive button that worked fine once joycon was removed, character stuck running on the spot at the end of a stage, and being killed but still fighting on with no health and only able to attack on one side. The common denominator was that the Switch was brought out of sleep mode each time a quirk happened, so be wary if you’re slogging through a stage and putting the Switch to sleep to finish later.
If you’ve played any side-scrolling beat em up then this will seem similar enough to you as the general premise of fighting your way to an end of stage boss is the same. The game does give you two different fighters to choose, and 4 styles with differing stats each, with each character having a different style to play with. Sukane is a kunoichi so focuses more on short quick attacks and agility whereas Tsuruamaru is a straight up samurai offering grenades and attack range I guess? Personally preferred Sukane mainly for the defensive side of the game as she can dodge away from enemies and damage, Tsuruamaru blocks instead leaving occasionally surrounded.
Enemies also add a little to the variety as stages have the usual fodder, sergeant types and then a boss at the end – enemy types do quickly get repetitive though as your fists yearn for more than spear peasants face. The first boss for example has 3 attacks: a slap, wind-up punch and a shield spin, with their returning clothes colour in subsequent stages denoting which of the 3 attacks they will do. In a way its a good system as it allows you to plan your attacks judging by the enemies colours as they approach, downside is that it is a little too simple and easy to learn so you’ll easily dispatch all the fodder before a boss eventually.
Samurai Riot is a decent little blast that runs well & looks good on the Switch, but it’s definitely not without its issues. For me it doesn’t really do much with its gameplay loop to stand out in a crowded genre, outside of the branching story/stages and coop, and the bugs that still seem to occur when bringing the Switch out of sleep mode can hamper your experience. If you’re looking for a decent coop blast then this may be worth picking up, otherwise waiting for the right price is best as it may still have something to offer.
An improved version of the original for sure, but isn’t without its faults.