Black and White Bushido Review: No Shades of Grey

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Does anybody remember a game called Bruce Lee way back on the Spectrum? Anyone? What about you at the back there? No?

Right well it was a simple 2D platformer where you, the titular hero must complete these singular levels while avoiding the two bad guys that prowled each level by means of hiding. It’s simplicity made it a great game.

Why am I blithering on about a game nearly 30 years old? Well because Black and White Bushido reminds me of it,  from the moment I turned it on. It’s like a modern day, enhanced remake. Sort of.

Black and White Bushido is a 2D hack and slasher where samurai of Light or Dark duke it out in arenas made of, well, light and dark. And that’s the core concept. In the light areas, the light Samurai can barley be seen, same for the dark Samurai in the dark areas. But, as soon as you cross into your opposite color there is no hiding as you stand out like a sore thumb. It’s then up to you to use your color to your advantage as you set out to hack and slash your foe to the depths of sweaty hell.

It’s great game of wit and stealth. But before you think about camping it out, waiting for your hapless foe to walk into your line of sites…don’t. Each of the seven levels have both light and dark patches but they alternate and change at random to keep you on your toes.

There are a couple of modes to keep you occupied. Deathmatch which is your bog standard affair. Play one on one and you’ll be left wanting more after a few matches but you can have up to 3 other players duking it out on screen when you play online or via local co op which makes things much more interesting. Interestingly there is a Capture the Flag mode which is a great addition. Once you get the flag, more of your color fills the screen giving you that extra edge. You’ll need it too as the game uses a one hit kill system.

There is also a challenge mode which is for single player people where you take on computer AI to complete simple tasks, you can change the amount of kills you can take, and select the number of AI bots to fight against and which level you would like to play on but won’t keep you entertained for long.

Speaking of AI, perhaps the reason the single player campaign doesn’t quite work as well as it should is because the AI is not so hot, they just aimlessly wonder the screen until the level colour changes or you move, making you stand out, then it just jumps around hacking and slashing and hoping for the best. Even when you’re up against three other Samurai, it offers little challenge.

Still the controls are tight and the movement is on point so when you die it’s your fault, nothing to do with dodgy collision detection or clumsy controls. It all works rather well. The levels are well designed and the random changing of the dark and light areas is top notch.

Black and White Bushido is a great game thanks mainly to it’s simplicity, just like Bruce Lee on the Spectrum. When you have your mates bundled round it makes for a good multiplayer blast. However there is not much here to keep you occupied once you’ve exhausted the three modes on offer. Which is a shame seeing as this game has been available on Steam for about 18 months so a few extra additions would be nice for the PS4 release.

If you were planning a mass multiplayer night with your buddies this is the kind of game that will get you swearing like it’s going out of fashion, as your buddy consistently slashes your face off (in the game) when you didn’t see him/her coming.

But the key is to stay calm. as Bruce Lee once said. A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough.

Black and White Bushido is available now on PS4 (Version reviewed), Xbox One and PC via Steam.

Disclaimer: We were provided with a code for the game in order to complete this review. For more information on how we review and score games, please see our review policy.  

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