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A decent hack-and-slash game with a hefty dose of Japanese flavor and easy-to-grasp gameplay.

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The 3DS eShop is a nice storefront that doesn’t get a lot of attention. It’s all too easy for some fairly nice games to slip under the radar there, especially if the eShop is the only place you can find them. Sadame, a Japanese-drenched action-RPG, certainly falls into that category; there hasn’t been a lot of hype buildup for this one so it just might fall through the cracks, which would be a shame as it’s a decent hack-and-slasher.

Sadame is an action-RPG where you control one of four heroes battling demons during the Sengoku era. This is rarely portrayed as a happy point in history and that certainly remains the case here; you’ve got your traditional demons and youkai running around causing trouble, so you’re going to have to go stop them. Victory provides cash, loot and abilities stolen from defeated bosses which can be used as your own.

Character customization is key to an effective action-RPG, of course, and in Sadame you’ll start by choosing one of the four heroes. You’ve got your Samurai, the most straightforward character, who beats stuff up with swords and magic without using all that much finesse. There’s the Ninja, who uses mid-range attacks that I found difficult to aim along with your standard ninjutsu magic. The Monk is a sort of hybrid class that uses martial arts and magic attacks together with auras to dish out elemental damage. Finally, the Rogue is quick and uses a bow; that’s really all she needs, as many of the enemies in the game need to be in melee range to hit you.

Characters differ in their normal attack capabilities as well as the skills they can learn and use. You’ll find a ton of gear as you play through Sadame and much of it will have a skill that can only be used by a specific character; while others can wear the gear and gain statistical benefits from it, they won’t be able to use skills that aren’t for them. Gear can be further improved by slotting gems into it as well. Sadame ends up playing out a bit like Diablo when it comes to gear since you’ll constantly be looking for upgrades.

Sadame uses a level-style system instead of a central hub like most games of its ilk, so you’re progressing from one stage to the next in a linear fashion. Defeating the boss at the end of a stage will cause it to drop a Karma power that your character can absorb and use as their own. Unlike skills, these are applicable to all characters and can be a great help for addressing your chosen warrior’s weaknesses.

Sadame’s graphical presentation is one of the top points of the game; it’s a beautiful title, if slightly dark, that takes inspiration from Japanese art from the Sengoku era. Enemies are immediately recognizable if one is familiar with youkai and other Japanese beasts, which is nice. Music and sound effects, meanwhile, are exactly what you’d expect, so count on taiko drumbeats and samisen twangs.

Overall, Sadame is reminiscent of the classic Shining Soul games. It’s not the deepest action-RPG and can come off as slightly generic, but this simplicity lends itself well to a portable game. The relatively short length of the game’s levels and easy-to-grasp gameplay make Sadame a good choice if you’re looking for a Diablo-style game on the road.

About the Author: Cory Galliher