It’s a strange feeling starting a review for a game and still not knowing 100 per cent what your opinion on it is. Even as I write this I can’t decide if I love this game or if it leaves me disappointed.
First things first though, man this game is beautiful. The Japanese artistry is stunning. It’s displayed in a classic “sumi-e” ink art style and set in ancient Japan. The environment is gorgeous and it only gets better as you progress.
You take on the role of “Ink Demon” Agura. As you fight and slash your way through the levels, you can control your own environment. Need to get up higher? Then you can paint a platform to jump up on with ink via the touchscreen, using the Road Brush. Need help? No problem. By using the Call Brush, you can call on Inkgod companions Yomihi and Shidou. Yomihi essentially torches the tower or enemy you are trying to bring down while Shidou attacks from the ground firing blue rays of light towards your opposition. You need to have enough ink saved up to do these things however. The way to keep yourself topped up is by running your fingers across the rear touch pad. This can feel a little clunky when your frantically trying to give yourself more ink whilst being attacked. With the Nature Brush you can literally control the elements, bringing lightning and fire to the party. Where the game slightly falls short is the stages. There are 30 stages, spread across six separate tracks. There are 6 separate endings. The idea is brilliant, but you have to follow a specific path and this can sometimes feel repetitive. Say you’ve seen the first ending, and want to progress to the second ending. Instead of progressing to the next level, you have to go back and replay a certain area to branch off on the stage tree. Each stage is judged by stars, so you will have to go back and earn 3 stars on a previous stage that you’ve already played and passed before.
The repetitive theme sadly continues with the overall look of the stages as the game goes on. Again I’ll reiterate this game is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever seen, but once you’ve been on this game for a few hours you can’t help but notice there’s not a huge amount of variation visually as you make your way through the stage tree. The boss battles however are great. They are hard and will take some doing but are really enjoyable. As is survival mode where, you guessed it, you have to survive. Whether you have a giant chasing you or someone relentlessly firing arrows at your face, the gameplay on Sumioni is great.
When I said at the start of the review I wasn’t sure how I felt about this game, it was because the Vita does need games like this. Sumioni is hugely inventive, original and should be commended. It’s perfect for the handheld. It’s only £7.99 too, which is a very reasonable price for a game of such beauty. It’s certainly worth buying. The frustration only lies in the nagging feeling that this could of been THE game that everyone talked about. A game on the same par as Gravity Rush. Instead you can’t help but feel it’s a good game, not a great game.
Release Date: January 16, 2013
Publisher: Xseed Games