The combat is far more in-depth than one once assumed, the game cheats to ensure you remain challenged, and the game always has a new mechanic/trick/challenge up its sleeve that keeps fighting interesting. Lightly strategic, and amazingly visceral combat to boot. As of this writing on 10/3/14, it's $0.99, how could it hurt to buy this?
Well, what an unusual situation I am in with this game: I had the 'misfortune' to play the demo on another platform (probably the 360) a long time ago, and the demo only included the first 2 acts in stage 1. I played it, deemed it a mashy beat em up with no depth, and disregarded it entirely. Come 4 or so days ago, I notice it on sale for $0.99. I decided to buy it, not entirely remembering what it was that i disliked about it.
I finish the first 3 acts of stage 1, and felt the same way. Then I played the 4th act, The Swordsman. Suddenly, the game wears its true colors, and mashes me into a fine paste. Of course I get mad, decide the game was cheating, as it was indeed breaking a lot of rules it had already established. After a dozen or so tries, I win, and that should have been the end of it. But I keep playing either way.
Act 2 is already off to a good start, wailing on me mercilessly, but despite the game going out of the way to break rules, it slowly dawns on me that it probably wouldn't stand a chance if it didn't. An hour of arduous play later, I beat the 2nd Stage. Now I'm hooked.
This game is really really FUN. The demo I played so long ago did an excellent job of selling itself short. The light content the game gave me convinced me the combat was overly simplistic; not the case. The BASIC COMBOS are very unique, in that both directional inputs, timing, and the speed at which they are pressed changes your attacks. This allows for a very fluid, natural feeling attack sequence that is wildly variable based on user input, as well as highly adaptable to the enemy. The sounds they chose for some of these strikes are so viscerally satisfying, you're likely to react quite strongly at the earth shattering, bone crunching, lighting-esque chi strikes you'll be landing on the enemy.
The COUNTERS/GUARD BREAKS are a neat mechanic too, it's a little cumbersome at first, because the Hold X commands are not easily understood at first, but how it works, is if the enemy is trying to do light parries, the hold X command is a rapid flurry that aims to overwhelm them and break their guard. At any time, if they can't, or wont, let their guard break, they'll go into a full guard, the jumping attack (A), is used to break their guard in this case. Depending on the enemy, you can get anywhere from a few hits to a full blown series on them. This system, I realize, is meant to punish mashing. Yes, I said it, mashing is bad in this game. Mashing some situations is damn fun, but the game demands carefully chosen attacks. A layer of, dare i say, STRATEGY. That or PATIENCE.
The enemy can use your PARRY and CHI STRIKES as well. The white glow is their parry, and the red glow is the wind up of their strongest attacks. You can bait their parries with carefully placed strikes, and CRUSH their powerful attacks with your own, giving huge damage, stunning everyone in the fight, and giving that oh so wonderful thunderous crashing sound that I crave so very very much.
What surprises me is this game, despite pulling so many stops on me already, still finds ways to make each new fight even more interesting than the last, new enemies, new challenges, new mechanics to learn. On top of that, every act is a small, self contained fight that is short, but exciting to play, and easy to jump into and attempt.
I daresay my BIGGEST QUALMS with this game so far are the lack of integrated settings (you have to go outside of the game to adjust your video settings), the lack of the ability to remove the letterbox that forces 16:9 ratios, even on 4:3 ratios, the lack of a quick restart option in the pause menu (Really frustrating Stage 2 boss, I'm looking at you), having to sit and wait for your body to settle before you can continue (2nd stage boss again), and unusually high costs of items. I suppose the latter most is resolved by playing on all difficulty levels, but I'm still practicing here, give me a break.