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About the Story
You play as an American tourist visiting Shinobu Palace in Japan hoping to learn more about your ancestor, Matsuo Kaneiji, an infamous samurai executed for treason. Through several puzzles and flashbacks, you (with the gods' help!) will explore his life and correct an ancient wrong.
Set in the modern day, but with magical flashbacks to historical Japan, reconstructing some details about your character's distant ancestors. Some of the puzzles are either clichéd or of the variety where you would have to read the author's mind, but they're lent charm by the Japanese mythological details. Worth playing for the atmosphere.
-- Emily Short
So I do recommend this game. I think it will be better a version or two down the line, if Rohde chooses to polish it up based on initial player response, because there are some points where the implementation makes things unnecessarily frustrating. But it succeeds at much that it attempts -- to offer an old-school game with a cool, fresh setting. And it is ambitious enough to take more than your standard-issue two-competition-hours to play, which is a nice change, these days.
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In addition to being a traditional text adventure, an atmospheric piece, and a story-driven game, Katana is one more thing: a first attempt. And while it clearly represents a decent one, there're a number of details showing that its author had little or no experience when working on it. [...] The positive aspects are the genuine fun the author clearly had writing it (this fun shows through, say, in a number of witty responses to weird player input), and the attention to details. And they outweigh the negative ones, despite the fact that you could get a different impression reading all my nitpicking. ;)
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Number of Reviews: 1
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I'm sad to say it, but on playing this game a second time, I'm less impressed overall. Setting is still great; I can vividly imagine the various locations and characters. However, puzzle implementation was sort of choppy; only one solution for them, and sometimes, it didn't make sense to only have one. Descriptions didn't change when the environment was manipulated, and while I did appreciate the cultural words and education, I thought it was unfair to have puzzle solutions depend on information you don't have ready access to at the time you need to solve the puzzle. I mean, okay. IF gamers probably do take notes, but for this game, if you didn't take down the right information or weren't really thorough in your examination of objects, you'd miss solutions. There were two or three puzzles I got absolutely stuck on and would never have finished the game if not for the walkthrough provided. Often times, I hit on solutions purely by experimentation. Not that I was doing random things but some solutions require repetitive action. And that's another thing. On top of the notes and repetition, gameplay sometimes felt more like work. And then there were the "guess the syntax" problems and minor bugs that caused some frustration when I wanted to do something but didn't know quite how to phrase it. The game would ask for strange clarification, and when you answered, it would ask again.
The story, too, left me unsatisfied. The fantasy elements were great. My favorite thing about it was the magic. But the romance was melodramatic and I found it shallow and overly sweet. It would have been better if it were more subtle and wistful, instead of the player character being treated shamefully during the endgame because the only thing that mattered was being reunited. It especially annoyed me because I was the one doing all the work.
The game is worth playing for the scenery and mythology. There some graphic violence scenes, but only when necessary.
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