Developed By: Stas Shostak Published By: Samustai Categories: Soulslike, Action Release Date: 02.26.21
Katana Kata is by the developer’s admission is a souls like game, but with more of a focus on the precision of your swordplay.
High Strike. Low Strike. Charge strikes. You can play and just strike enemies as you see, but that’s foolish. The key to surviving a fight is parrying strikes as they come at you. Enemies all have a tell for whether or not they strike high or low. Do the same right before you’re hit and you’ll knock their attack back. Here comes the time to strike back. Perhaps you’ll dismember or decapitate them.
Kill an enemy and you’ll get experience. Kill enough and you’ll level up. Stat upgrades like health, speed, attack, and breath, which is Katana Kata’s stamina system. Leveling up not only can make you stronger, but allow you to use traits, which can be earned from killing certain enemies. Some grant you chest or waist armor. Some let you hold more healing items. The trait that allows you to use a charged attack to hit through multiple goons is one I happen to really enjoy. If you fall in battle, you lose the traits equipped and any experience that hasn’t hit the level threshold…unless you can fight a dark spirit in a Nightmare to rise from the dead. A challenging task I almost never succeeded in.
Fallen enemies drop their own weapons. Do you want or need a stronger, or perhaps faster weapon? How about one that just has a higher durability? You might not have the whetstone needed to sharpen your blade, so it might just be more convenient to scavenge for a new weapon. I found myself looking for stronger weapons, some twice as strong as default, but maybe speed is what you need. Get lucky and you’ll find a rare sword to straight up have better stats all around. It’ll hurt to lose that.
The journey through Katana Kata is a challenging one. You’ll die a lot, get frustrated, and wonder how you’ll beat levels. Be patient, think clearly, and pay attention to enemy tells. Level up a few times to get your playstyle together, maybe put some traits on you. There’s satisfaction in slicing through enemies that before gave you trouble. Enemies hit hard, but you can hit harder, smarter. Dodge their moves, counter and cut them clean apart. You may be overwhelmed by the number of enemies coming at you, but they do fight fair. Each level ends with a boss, a fellow student at your dojo, gone down the wrong path. These aren’t just standard sword fights, with the first being a fight against a Sumo Wrestler. A short game, but definitely one that you won’t finish quickly.
Katana Kata has the right ideas, but never seems to shake an amateur feel to it. It’s an ugly game, really ugly. Text has no flavor to it, seeming placeholder. You can tell what everything is, but nothing has any real detail to it. I can praise that most things can be pushed around and enemies can lose limbs, but is that the price to pay for poor models? I’ve also noticed I will occasionally just have attacks that go straight through or miss enemies I am right in front of for no reason. This game reeks of needing more time in the oven, even if a few months to pretty a few things up.
Despite feeling a bit undercooked, Katana Kata is a satisfying action game that when you’re doing good, feels just as good. There is no one way to go through a stage, which kept me from getting too frustrated for my failings and allowed me to perhaps better plan out paths to victory.