When I first heard about Sadame, I looked it up and saw a recipe of a game that screamed “this is for Kyle!” Warring Japan, set in an ancient time when demons and dragons roamed the lands (fictional, obviously) with JRPG elements, slightly customisable characters and arcade-vibes – what could possibly be wrong? A lot, actually.
Think Positive Thoughts = Good Karma
I’m going to be blunt: I did not like this game. The frustration alone drove me up the wall more than once. But let’s backtrack before I get to the good bits.
Set in an ancient time in Japan, the cliché Japanese villain, Oda Nobunaga, wants to take over the land using his demon army. Things aren’t so easy for him when a new warrior rolls into town. This warrior is you. I’m sure you can fill in the rest of the story. Sadame, unfortunately doesn’t deliver on an original, powerful and impactful story.
At the start, you get to pick your hero. You can choose a Samurai, Monk, Ninja or Rogue. I chose the Monk in my playthrough as the bio said he was good at both long and short range. What it didn’t say is that he is slower than Marmite. I tried out the other characters as well, the Ninja is fast and has some range. The Samurai is great at melee combat and can absorb some damage and the Rogue is probably the best with great range and radius of attack. You can also customise them somewhat by changing their colour to your liking.
Karma, Karma, Karma, Karma, Karma Chameleon
Once you’ve selected your warrior, you’re sent off into battle to face the lethal army of Nobunaga. This includes a large variety of undead things, creepy creatures, living statues, feral beasts and lots more. The variety is quite large. To attack them, you’ll need to equip yourself with two types of weapons, armour and an assortment of accessories. Seriously though, the range of loot in this game is massive. A lot of it is junk or items that can only be used by a different class, but there’s a lot to toy around with.
To go with that, you’ll need to equip yourself with abilities known as Karma. These abilities are almost like magic, only they don’t quite work with mana. Using karma skills, drains your “MP gauge” but in order to fill it up again, you need to defeat enemies. There are also spells, but unlike Karma, the spells are attached to your armour and they don’t really feel very useful.
What I don’t like about the karma meter, is that it drains quickly and there’s no other way to fill it up. The only way to regain lost health is to use a karma move, and without any “mana” that’s really difficult. This predicament has cost me so many stages and was really the bite that started to annoy me.
When Battles Go Wrong
Now, there are numerous issues with the fighting and gameplay in general. In isolation, I can deal with them, but together… well, I lost my cool numerous times. I have rage quit more than a dozen times. The enemies are inconsistently difficult. The bosses pushovers. There were one or two that gave me a run for my money, but most were easy.
The real problem are the vanilla enemies. The sheer number can quickly overwhelm you. On top of that, each time you get hit, you stagger for a little bit. This costs you time. If you’re surrounded by enemies, which will be most of the time, it will cause a chain of attacks that will kill you in a second.
Next, there are no checkpoints. If you die in the middle or even right at the end, you restart the level over again. And last but not least, it gets very repetitive. The entire game is one simple formula: Walk into an area, kill all waves of enemies, walk into a new area, kill all waves of enemies, rinse and repeat until you see the boss.
Levelling Up Never Felt So Pointless
Another let down was the RPG aspect of the game. There’s a huge skill tree that’s just too ambitious for its own good. Sadame tries really hard to juggle many different elements, like earth powers, fire, wood, physical, ki, etc. It’s too much for a game that needs to be simple. Couple that with the abundance of items with varying attributes and you feel hopelessly and unnecessarily overwhelmed by it all. It’s also not explained very well and doesn’t in any way feel impactful.
What the game does get right is the assist mode. If you have multiple character profiles, you can call on another character to help in your current game. This makes your second playthrough a total breeze compared to the first. The kicker is that I highly doubt you’ll get to the point as the main game is very frustrating. That stagger and lack of traditional item support has killed me so many times. I lost count of how many times I lost to the final level. It’s really frustrating and there’s no payoff at all.
Sadame is not a game that I will replay again. Its repetitive and frustrating combat mechanics, coupled with its overwhelming RPG system does not do this game any favours. This is one game that needs to be simplified. I wish I had something more positive to say, but I don’t. I did not enjoy this game, and I don’t think you will either.