I had expected to enjoy Sadame far more than I ultimately did. Set within an alternate fantasy version of Japan’s Warring States period, its name somewhat simply translates as ‘fate.’
We learn that 100 years have now passed since the Onin War, and the world has once again descended into turmoil. Once peaceful lands are now infested with demons that maraud their surroundings, destroying everything in their path with no care for life.
As humanity mourns in its darkest hour, four heroes rally against their invaders and look to restore peace to the land by vanquishing them. And, as can be expected, you will carve your way through many an enemy in the hours that follow.
Developed by Mebius, the Japanese studio behind the sensational Steel Empire, Sadame is an action-RPG in essence. First published as a digital-only release by Intergrow in Japan way back in December 2014, localisation champion Rising Star Games has worked hard in their effort to bring the game westward. That has been a commendable achievement as always, but it is the gameplay experience that is sadly lacking.
Players will choose between the game’s four heroes, whether that be the dual sword-wielding Samurai, ranged Ninja, spell-slinging Monk, or the polearm and bow-toting Rogue. Each feel distinct to play and present their own unique abilities: the samurai having foresight that reduces incoming damage; the ninja’s spells being fixed at a low cost; the monk imbuing his weapons with elemental damage whenever a spell is cast; and the rogue being able to buff with support spells indefinitely.
Throw in their assorted weapon choices – katanas, shuriken, staffs, relics, bows and more – and that breadth allowed for Sadame to present a largely promising start. But such impressions soon fall by the wayside when you start playing the game.
Stages require that players clear each screen of demons before moving on to the next, where you must once again neutralise every enemy that’s present. This rinse-repeat never lets up, and, aside from a difficulty curve that largely results from whether enemies want to take their turn to mercilessly hack at you, regularly borders on tedium. That is Sadame’s most significant criticism, in that it feels like it is going through the motions rather than ever really engaging the player.
That’s a shame as, showered with loot, the RPG elements that underpin the experience are meticulously thought out. Aside from collecting stronger weaponry on the battlefield, your weapons of choice can be upgraded with elemental gems and an expansive skill tree will allow you to strengthen your chosen hero as they level. But even that can’t save players from the near mind-numbing boredom that will otherwise be felt.
Multiple save files will let you experiment with each hero, which can be traded with others through StreetPass. But your quest to defeat Oda Nobunaga is a muddled one, which excels in its artistic direction but lacks in combining that with gameplay that can entertain for even its short duration.