Soukou Akki Muramasa 装甲悪鬼村正 [Nitroplus]
Foreword: I somehow did not play this Nitroplus game earlier, but its universally high scores are intriguing.
In the first half of 20th century, Rokuhara Shogunate rules Japan with an iron fist of robotic suits of armor called Tsurugi, while the West wants to turn Japan into another military base. A policeman called Kageaki Minato arrives into a city of Kamakura to solve various different cases involving Tsurugi users (or Mushas), and when all other means are proven useless, defeats them with a skillful use of his own Tsurugi, the bloody red Muramasa. But he doesn't do that out of justice. He only wants to atone for his past sins and to defeat the most powerful Musha, one known as the Silver Star.
“The devil I shall meet, the devil I shall cut. The saint I shall meet, the saint I shall cut.”
This is the phrase that Kageaki says when fusing with Muramasa, and this is the phrase that tells both his past and his future…
"Good and evil balance out each other."
"This is not a hero's story. Those who aspire to become heroes are not needed."
Character Design rating: 10/10
Protagonist rating: 10/10
Story rating: 10/10
Game quality: 10/10
Overall rating: 10/10
You see the scores. I was absolutely sure that nothing can beat Coμ - Kuroi Ryuu to Yasashii Oukoku this year since I rate it as 10/10, but Coμ is a conventional yet well done chunige while Muramasa is something abnormal, impossible, one of a kind - and in this regard beyond comparison. As usual, I'm going to be brief with impression since many people did it much better already (12345678). Even more brief than usual since there is nothing to complain about.
Can't attend any issues without mentioning the length of the game. It took me 105 hours to beat. That's insane. The script size says that it's roughly twice smaller than Steel and half smaller than Reconquista, but it's not how it feels as Steel took me 80 hours to finish and Reconquista just 42 hours. In Soukou Akki Muramasa some scenes need to be replayed for further routes, and everyone is voiced, so I guess it's an optical illusion of some kind, but it definitely feels that Soukou Akki Muramasa is the longest visual novel game that I ever played.
Not going to trample over concept or characters (except that I hate Kanae for never opening eyes as eyes is the most important element in design of any character) - it has been done numerous times already. What I wish to focus on is what makes this game special. There are very few visual novels that don't center around heroines in some way. Most of those vns come from pre-Leaf era when there was no habit to prepare routes for different heroines (e.g. Eve: Burst Error or Luv Wave). Soukou Akki Muramasa does not focus on heroines at all. It's not a love story - heroines are just individualistic tag-alongs developing specific qualities inside protagonist. And for the same reason game is not afraid to get rid of the heroines. Routes distinction in Soukou Akki Muramasa is very formal and can be easily transformed to naming of personality traits or just remembering structure only by five plot chapters. Another thing that I adore in the game is constant urge to know what happens next. I can't actually remember any other visual novel with comparable thriller element involved. Text is very well done with descriptions and infodumping kicking in rarely. Everything is built around dialogues, and with every single side-character voiced it feels alive.
Soukou Akki Muramasa hits all the right spots for me, but first chapter is worth reading even for chuni haters for its incomparable experience and impact. It's an epic integrate project that was only possible during golden age of visual novels. But its scale will astonish many generations to come.