Samurai Jack is a cartoon like no other. With four TV-Y7 seasons from the early 2000s and a fifth TV-14 from 2017, the show visually tells the story of a samurai sent to the distant future when the well-known Galaxy was conquered by the evil god Aku. Told through visually beautiful and creative episodes, subtle writing that explores topics such as morality, justice, kinship, fate and many others, while incorporating many moments of lightness, each episode of Samurai Jack is special. So how does the new game, awkwardly released three years after the sudden resurrection of the show, work.
This is not Samurai Jack’s first foray into the gaming world. With the overwhelming The Amulet of Time for the Gameboy Advanced, the clumsy The Shadow of Aku on GameCube and Playstation 2 and the Barebone board game Back to the Past, Samurai Jack’s efforts have been unsuccessful to say the least. As an obvious Fan of the show, I therefore eagerly awaited the release of Action Through Time. And I am happy to say that this is largely a successful translation.
Developed by the young Studio Soleil, the developers of the Nintendo Switch game Splatoon Ninjala and Naruto TO Boruto: Shinobi Striker, Action Through Time aims to deliver a Canon story told in an action game of the Devil May Cry type. Unfortunately, history is the weakest component of the struggle through time. Awkwardly stuck in the middle of the last episode of the series, the players follow Jack as he is forced by Aku to a place in between times where he has to action iconic opponents in nine levels in familiar locations.
For a show that explores as many concepts as you do, The story of the game is a terrible disappointment how few there are. Each level has a small narrative in which Jack actions through an area to find an amulet that he can break and move on to the next level, and that’s really it. Most of the classic characters that one would expect are miserably not-found, and the short interactions that the player has with familiar characters are short and ineffective, apparently for the sole purpose of winking at the familiar players of the show and saying “Ah, remember that episode, right?”
This is compounded by the second worst aspect of the game: the movie sequences. The graphics in Action Through Time are not revolutionary, but on the move they perform their function quite well. The environments and most of the animations feel faithful to the source material and are also visually interesting during after games. However, once the movie sequences raise their heads, usually at the beginning of a level and before and after the obligatory boss actions at the end, the ugliest aspects of the game’s composition become dogmatically obvious.
The facial animations are sloppy at best. The scenes are often cumbersome due to a lack of music or background music. The animations seem rigid and outdated. This is almost enough for the player to be staggered by the whiplash of the difference in quality between the Gameplay with which he has just been engaged and the cutscene with which he taps his foot to try to speed it up.
This is very disappointing as a big Fan of the series, but the Gameplay makes up for what is not-found from the story and the sequence of the film. Like the vast majority of action games, a level in Action Through Time is built through a series of finely planned experience of a constantly rotating set of enemies. To action them, Jack is equipped with his legendary magic sword, as well as a handful of different spears, clubs, hammers and fists. All weapons, with the exception of Jack’s magic sword and fists, have durability knives that are important for getting a small drop of Bushido spirit–one of the three currencies used to progress through Jack’s three skill trees.
Each weapon class has certain types of enemies or situations in which it thrives, but each of them is more than capable in any Situation. This Arsenal is supported by a surprising addition, ranged weapons. Thanks to a selection of throwing weapons such as shurikens and throwing knives, bows with different types of arrows and, perhaps most surprisingly, weapons. However, ranged weapons will not be an integral part of your arsenal until you play the two highest difficulty levels, the samurai master and the master of masters.
The difficulty levels, of which there are four, the fourth being unlocked after reaching the game at its difficult difficulty level, can be penalizing towards the end of the game, but greatly facilitate several games. With each difficulty in modifying the experience at the compositional level while adding more advanced movements to the set of movements of each enemy, players can choose levels to repeat and continuously work on their constructions and inventory, and the satisfying action that crosses the healthy ten-hour story several times is always attractive and invigorating.