August 4, 2013
The basic story of Muramasa has you playing as two very different sword wielders and you can switch between the two stories whenever you feel like it. You can play Momohime, a princess who has been possessed by a dark spirit and will do what it takes to get her soul back where it belongs. Or, you can play as Kisuke, who has lost his memories and is a fugitive accused of a crime he doesn’t recall committing.
The story is far from simple, but never bogs down what Muramasa is all about and that is the gameplay. The characters are cool and very original and the creatures you will meet on both character's journeys compliment the experience. Completing both stories will take around 20-25 hours on your first playthrough. Still leaving a couple extra hours of content hidden in the game huge world.
In case you missed out and didn't have the chance to play Muramasa before, it plays like a 2D open world action game. The sword combate has you foraging and collecting many different kinds of swords to use in combat. It may take a bit for you to learn or even possible relearn how the combat system works, because while it'is not complex, mastering when to block, reflect, use secret arts, and how to combo with different blades will make the game much easier.
The fast and frenetic combat can sometimes feel like you're pulling off an acrobatic performance, while other battles make you feel like you have no way to avoided getting the crap kicked out of you until you die enough times to learn an enemy's patterns. This small gripe can be a bit of a turn off since the game starts off strong and won’t let go till you finish the game. So don’t expect the game to pull any punches here.
Exploring the open world is not what you might expect from other open world 2D metroidvanias, but Muramasa’s take on an open world is much more subtle and less action packed. There are still random battles and treasures to stumble across while exploring Japan. You will spend most of your time running through empty arenas, just taking in all of the beauty and detailed animations that were put into each level. Stumbling across a village to chat to some villagers or even finding a hot bath full of monkeys also bring a nice real world feel to Muramasa’s version of feudal Japan.
Having the game's art style based off Japanese mythology makes for a visually unique game. While the graphics are the exact same as on the Wii version that is by no means a bad thing. The 2D drawings and silky smooth animations are even more appealing on the Vita’s OLED screen. Each screenshot from the game almost looks like a piece of art and really shows off how much effort Vanillaware puts into every aspect of their games.
Having the complete Muramasa experience from the Wii brought over perfectly on the Vita definitely makes Muramasa Rebirth a must own for anyone looking for another great Vita title. Sadly if you have played the game to your heart's content back in 2009, there is currently no reason for you to pick the same game up again. There will be four brand new character with their own missions released as DLC sometime in the near future, but no word on when that is happening.
As long as you were not expecting any sort of new content besides an updated translation to the games text, Muramasa Rebirth remains a classic and can now be played anywhere you have your Vita. A bit of a steep learning curve is the only real blemish on this absolutely stunning game. Now we just have to wait and see how the four DLC characters turn out later this year.