The two most recent generations of hardware, were a host to the indie renaissance. Titles such as Trine, and Hotline Miami, have given the masses an alternative to the mainstream AAA single-player titles, and games such as Nidhogg and TowerFall Ascension, have given players a well-deserved break from the multiplayer colossi such as Call of Duty, or Battlefield. However, the differences between AAA single player titles, and Indie games of the same ilk, always came down to the budget, and creative direction. Whereas the divide in the multiplayer world was a more significant one, as titles even as highly regarded as Nidhogg, usually stayed away from implementing online multiplayer, as indie studios could not always facilitate such addition to their multiplayer only titles.
A lot has changed since 2014, when Nidhogg was initially released, and online multiplayer started to slowly creep into more indie titles. First came games such as Secret Ponchos, then came Assault Android Cactus, and most recently, just over a week ago, Black & White Bushido has been released on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the PC.
Black & White Bushido, as the above paragraphs suggest, is a multiplayer only indie game, which pitches up to four players against each other, in both couch and online battles. In-game, players can choose between a handful of characters, and one of the two available shade schemes. First scheme is white and light grey, and it allows the player to blend into white environments, but places him/her at a disadvantage when traversing on the forefront of black backgrounds. Whereas the alternative black and dark grey shade scheme does exactly the opposite, meaning that player who is using this particular scheme will find the title easier, while hiding in the darkened parts of the in-game maps.
The black and white, yin gang yang, mechanic, which is further enforced through the simplistic art style of the title is surely interesting. However, its execution is debatable. In my experience, player using the white character, was always harder to spot, and could easily traverse the map unnoticed, without having to use the ‘sneak’ button. But the player who was using the dark scheme, could be easily seen while running in front of ‘his/her’ black backdrop.
While playing against another human player, using the built-in couch versus mode, I always found the title to be much more difficult while using the ‘white’ character. And this is because I could not see the model of my player character, and this happened to me regardless of which character I have chosen. As the only thing which has changed after I have swapped my character for another, was his/her look on the black backdrop. And even when it came to skills and abilities, all in-game characters felt exactly the same.
Regardless of the fact that each of the in-game characters wields a different weapon, they all feature an exactly the same repertoire of skills. And it doesn’t matter if you’re wielding a massive hammer, or a katana, because in the end, the game boils down to killing your opponent with a single blow, while using a dash, which every character is capable off.
The simplicity of Black & White Bushido, may be welcomed by some, as it will remind many of the previously mentioned Nidhogg. But ultimately, due to the varied visual design, and the diverse weaponry, the title ultimately feels misleading. As nobody would expect that a much larger character will succumb to a single strike from a much smaller warrior. Also, the fact that a kimono wearing giant, who’s carrying a massive hammer, is capable of the same stunts as a katana wielding samurai is laughable. This issue will become apparent mostly to players who have invested a lot of time in Overwatch, a title where each and every character silhouette, accurately represents character’s health points, weaponry, and ultimately movement.
When facing samurai, with ‘MC Hammer’, it should feel like a 1v1 battle in Overwatch where Genji is facing off against Reinhardt. But instead, it feels like a duel between two Genjis who can only use their dash ability, and both have only one health point remaining. And this is extremely disappointing, but not as disappointing as the fact that twelve days after launch, Black & White Bushido is already dead.
To put any suspicion, or disbelief aside, I have to state that I have tried numerous times to both join a pre-existing game, and create my own online lobby. And over the course of three days, I have not played a single online multiplayer game, and therefore, I cannot say much about the online component of Black & White Bushido beside the fact that I’m disappointed in its early demise. However, if you decide to pick up the title, and somehow manage to play an online game, you should keep in mind that it may suffer from horrendous latency issues related to player character hitboxes, as even the offline game modes suffered from it.
Ultimately, Black & White Bushido, is nothing more than a shallow concept for something that could otherwise be great. And same as with Shred It, which I have also recently reviewed, Black & White Bushido would be much better off as a free to play title, with reasonable microtransactions, and additional monetisation. Free to play model would not only allow the title to reach a wider audience, but also, the promise of new content in form of stages, characters, cosmetic items and weapons, could further boost it up the ranks of the currently available free to play titles. But as it stands, Black & White Bushido, is nothing more than a waste of £7.99, which you could spend on something better than an empty game, which unfortunately was destined to die.