Afro Samurai 2: Our hero’s hair today, gone tomorrow in this episodic sequel - Games Weekly

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Afro Samurai 2: Our hero’s hair today, gone tomorrow in this episodic sequel

The original Afro Samurai didn’t set the world on fire, but it was an interesting action game with a killer hip-hop soundtrack, set in a strange future-feudal Japan. You might remember it for its gory dismemberment system, and for the vocal stylings of one Samuel L. Jackson, who voiced the game’s titular limb-remover.

Neither element has been officially confirmed for this sequel, though Mr Jackson’s dulcet tones in the early build we were shown strongly suggest he’ll appear. Not as the playable character, mind, but as Afro 2’s almost impossibly cool narrator. You don’t play as Afro this time you play as his undead robot childhood friend Kuma.

The Kuma who tried to kill you in the previous game, and who has now returned from the dead to take his violent revenge? The very same. Kuma hip-hop’s answer to Frank Sidebottom wears a big, freaky false head at all times, which in this case is that of a cuddly teddy bear. Where the original was a game of complex combos and inputs, this is shaping up to be a more streamlined, approachable dare we say accessible? affair.
”You play as Afro’s undead robot childhood friend Kuma”
A little like Devil May Cry, you’ll need to frequently switch between three different fighting styles to deal with the many human-shaped obstacles that foolishly stand in Kuma’s way. Afro style allows you to deflect arrows; Kuma is all about inflicting large amounts of concentrated damage; Master endows you with useful area-of-effect attacks. Each style is upgraded over time, through use, and eventually unlocks additional abilities, à la Fable.

The demo we were shown was mostly limited to a single environment, a bar home to samurai gangsters and pole-dancing women wearing the word ‘censored’ over their boobs. There were enough enemies inside here to fill it five times over, though the simplified combat system didn’t seem to afford a huge range of tactical options. Kuma was encouraged to swap fighting styles to overcome enemy immunities, and could be prevented from doing so by the occasional jolt of electricity. That’s pretty much it so far, but the three skilltrees hinted at more involved battles to come.

Publisher Versus Evil says that combat will be interspersed with the odd puzzle here and there, which in action games tends to mean ‘you flip switches, and sometimes stand on a pressure plate’. While the game’s looking slightly underdeveloped at this point, its distribution model is interesting Afro Sumurai 2 will be released in episodes.

We get the feeling fans of the original might be disappointed by the sizeable changes to the combat system, and with the first ‘volume’ due to land this summer, we’ll know for certain in a few months.

Serious Samurai
Who is Kuma, and why does he hate Afro so much?
While you’ll apparently play as other characters too, Afro Samurai 2 is clearly Kuma’s story. He’s a cyborg samurai and former friend of the hirsute hero, who’s returned from death a couple of times now always with a renewed wish to see Afro dead. He blames Afro for the deaths of everyone he’s ever loved, and also for that pen he ‘borrowed’ ten years ago. In battle he’s much more agile than Afro, and tends to dual-wield.

Release Dates: Summer

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