Samurai Rush isn’t just another endless runner game.
In fact, while the game does force the player to move at a fixed rate along the horizontal axis (giving it a resemblance to the wave of “runner” games that have been hitting the app store), unlike other similar games Samurai Rush isn’t endless or randomized at all.
Samurai Rush pushes the player through a series of action puzzles. As the player character rushes continuously towards the right of the screen, enemies stand ready to stop the hero’s progress. It is up to the player to shift the character vertically between the three rows, or lanes, to counteract enemy positioning. It isn’t that simple, though, as enemies will read the player’s current lane and lock in their aim accordingly. Swordsmen can attack in the cardinal directions, while pike-wielding enemies can aim either straight ahead or diagonally.
The player must then take advantage of enemy expectations, and then shift lanes at the last moment to make a kill. Killing is accomplished with a swipe of the finger in the desired direction, and the game keeps track of how many enemies are killed during the course of each level.
Because the game isn’t randomized, there is a limited amount of content. The provided levels are decent, but the difficulty level is entirely dependent on enemy placement and not at all consistent. Having puzzle elements in a game where the player has no control of the game’s pacing also leads to trouble in Samurai Rush. The game’s controls, while functional, are not as tight as they could be. It could be the nature of the touch-screen device, but I also felt that the required animations to change lanes or attack weren’t as responsive or quick as they needed to be. The loose control, combined with timed puzzle elements, lead to many a frustrating death.
The game is sold as a story-driven title, but outside of a small cut scene at the game’s opening, you won’t see any story during the game’s three “worlds.” The game is over rather quickly, too, unless you are the type that wants to have killed every enemy in every level you can easily play through all of the content in a single brief sitting.
There are moments, however few, where I was in tune enough with the controls to feel accomplished and enjoy my time with the game. During those times I was able to enjoy the game’s colorful backdrops and one of those gaming “zen” moments. Eventually though, some difficult enemy placement, inconsistent character art, or a misstep with the controls would pull me right back out of the game. Samurai Rush is free to try, and if you enjoy the free portion of the game, bear in mind that the rest of the game doesn’t feel any different. Samurai Rush feels like a game with potential, and just isn’t ready for prime time yet.