Why I Believe in Hanako – Soul of the Samurai, and Why You need to Play it.
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Once in a while a group of game developers pull themselves together and create something wonderful using little more than their laptops and ingenuity.
It is in such a case, that I introduce to you a game that is indeed worthy of your attention.
Hanako – Soul of the Samurai is a stylized samurai action game that blends surreal visuals and authentic ancient Japanese culture.
It’s not merely enough that its developers are all industry professionals, with the team’s creative lead possessing 4+ years of industry experience under his belt. Or that Hanako has repeatedly topped the charts of Indie Db & Moddb (even during its humble beginnings as a college project for its developers).
I’ve been following, and keeping an eye on, this game since the beginning. While I’ve sworn to be tight lipped about the details, what I can tell you is that gamers are in for something truly special.
The gameplay is intense, pulsated and serene. Your character glides across Japanese vistas as he/she moves. Your moments of peace are punctuated by skillful and punchy sword fights. Sounds of clanging metal and shouting samurai fill the air as leaves fall and sun rays baste your eyes in reticent color. Hanako – Soul of the Samurai has a learning curve of a few minutes, but once you take a moment to handle your sword (or bow), you’ll find it as elegant, smooth, and accentuated as the very environments in which it commences.
Artistically, I often found myself just taking a moment to enjoy the scenery equally as much as I was eager to charge headfirst into combat. It takes a moment to appreciate the true be-wonderment of the visuals presented here.
From falling Sakura Blossoms, Clanging Gongs, subtle Sunlight Shines bouncing off of hardened wooden bridges, and an orange sun baking your eyes as though it were painted…. Hanako is filled with such moments of subtle, yet beautiful, grace.
This is the gaming equivalent of a master painter placing just a few touches here or there to be appreciated by those who care to notice.
Fans of such games as Okami or Zelda will understand precisely what I mean here.
Bruce Lee (Technically Not Japanese, I know, but still a worldwide legend in Asian culture) once said “Be like water.” In this, he was remarking upon the ability of the element of water to both flow and crash.
If this were ever Hanako’s core aim, it succeeds.
Indeed, there is a rhythm of movement to combat here. You and your fellow samurai will find yourselves smoothly alternating between gliding across the battlefield and crashing with swords and arrows.
In this game, it is just as much fun to run around and take in the scenery as it is to decimate the opposing swordsmen.
It’s integrated and well-thought design & aesthetic seamlessly blends flowing-and-crashing combat with blissful visuals and elegant music, filling ones eyes and ears with Ambient-Japanese-Twinged-with-Electronic-SurrealistModernism. Quite a mouthful, and perhaps hyperbolic, yet its true.
What Hanako’s Success Could Mean For You.
On a broader economic scope, Hanako’s success would serve to only bolster (tremendously, I might add) the success of the rapidly burgeoning game development, art, and tech scene in Atlanta, GA (Eastern United States), further cementing it as a viable hub for artistic synergy.
Support this game & its team enough and you may find yourself working for (or with) them someday very soon.
After what I’ve seen here, I believe anything is possible.
The core team behind this game are aficionados. Industry Professionals. True believers. Fans of Japanese Culture & History, Martial Arts, Gaming, as well as Anime, whose depth and breadth of knowledge is matched only by the humorous (yet mature) pleasantries of their respective social grace, functioning strongly as individuals as well as a corroborative whole. Indeed, each of the developers are high-growth individuals possessing near-superhuman creativity and work ethic.
Spend a few minutes in an intimate discussion with any of these individuals and you will soon come to
understand precisely what I mean.
Matt Canei, Connor McCarthy, Ajani Thomas, and crew believe Hanako can communicate a message, doing good for many, and they truly want the world to be a better place because of it.
The Purpose, The Theme, The Underlying Message.
Stepping even further Behind the (rather enjoyable) twitch factor and beautiful visuals, Hanako: Soul of the Samurai is (quite intentionally) crafted as a tribute.
Its namesake is a Tribute to a passing mother (Hanako is the Japanese equivalent word for “Jane”, as it means “Flower Child”) of the team’s creative director, while the blossoming Sakura trees and art are bathed in symbolism. Furthermore, the game itself shows respect and honor towards its source material (that of ancient Japan).
What this game is attempting (and succeeding) at accomplishing is bathing players in a synergy of symbolic art, sullen mood, true-to-form ancient Japanese culture, and stylized combat.
Hanako – Soul of the Samurai gives gamers a much needed blend. Yes, it has twitch, yet also possesses thoughtfulness, maturity and grace. It espouses all the elegant artistry of a ballet. Yet this ballet is armed with swords, arrows, Katanas, and beautiful waterfalls.
In truth, any game that sincerely promotes meditation and visual bliss is one to be considered.
If an action game can leave you walking away with a renewed appreciation for a particular style of art and have you meditating more often, then what else is possible?
In short, I believe Hanako – Soul of the Samurai, in some subtle (and, perhaps, not subtle) ways, moves the medium of gaming a notch forward.
And I suggest – no, demand – that you play it.
Oh, and one more thing… Ninjas. 😉
So grab your sushi, sip some green tea, pop on some Japanese ambient music and slash some samurai while meditating underneath falling Sakura Blossoms, taking in the whimsical scenery.
You wont regret it.
Hanako – Soul of the Samurai is slated to be released to Steam: Greenlight on January 7th.
Go to http://www.hanakogame.com to take a closer look & interact with the developers.
And be sure to visit http://supportus.hanakogame.com to bring the love to Steam Greenlight.
-Nicketas is a Game Design instructor, Author/Writer, and Professional Mentor.
Notice: Hanako – Soul of the Samurai is a protected Intellectual Property, (C) 2007-2014, +Mpact Games LLC.
Photo Courtesy of +Mpact Games LLC, used with permission.
This article is © Copyright (2014), Nicketas & Entelechy Studios LLC. All Rights Reserved. Reposted & Used with permission for the purpose of promoting Hanako – Soul of the Samurai. Copyrights still reserved & Belong to their respective owners..
Original Article Date: 12/17/2014