Sadame on Nintendo’s 3DS finally brings to the table a bit of something that has been missing for a while. A good old fashioned Action Adventure in which one of four warriors will trudge, hack, & slash their way through Yokai and Oni infested areas in an attempt to bring order back to the land. With steel, magic, and karma at your side, the demonic and ghostly hordes will not part easy but then it wouldn’t be fun otherwise.
Striking a good balance between gameplay and dialog, Sadame offers plenty of reasons as to why each of the characters are on their quest instead of simply leaving paths of corpses in their wake for no reason. Each Act starts off with a bit of cinematic narrative describing the events currently transpiring which then lead into some dialog at the beginning of each stage or people to talk to in order to offer a bit more as to what is currently happening. As a fan of simply hacking through hordes in order to obtain experience points to level up and picking up gear from either fallen foes or chests and barrels lying around, these story segments make the experience into something more adding in substance to an already robust gameplay experience.
Gameplay is smooth but can take some time in order to get used to as while characters fluidly move around with the circle pad in all directions, they only attack in the four cardinal points. Enemies are restricted to the same limitations but it can can detract sometimes from the flow because what was being aimed at pulling off cannot be pulled off. Alongside physical attacks and combos, characters have access to both Karmic abilities and Spells. Spells are easy to do and will regenerate their usage once a cooldown has expired. Karmic abilities are a bit different however as characters have a Karma pool in order to draw from. This pool can be restored with the defeat of enemies however it should be noted that not all boss fights contain minions and careful usage of it within these times should be executed.
Utilizing a bit of RPG systems, each character will receive experience points at the end of a stage whether or not it ended in victory or defeat. Each level up presents the character with an upgrade point that can be used to enhance their strength, health, various elemental resistances or attack modifiers, physical defense and so on. The upgrade system itself is a hex based grid that unlocks more options around each new selected point which keeps some mystery as to what is really behind door number two. Outside of the standard human realm, there are options for fire, water, wind, earth, and metal which will all have an important role to play especially as enemies start hitting with more than regular physical attacks. With all of these options however it can be tempting to mix, match, add defense in more than one fashion which does help, but completion of a single hex based grid which totals to thirty-six with yield a new combo to be used for the single one that is provided from the start. Taking into account that there is more than a single difficulty and these are going to come in handy.
Gaining experience is one way to get tougher but equipment is really going to be where it’s at for a good portion of the adventure. Equipment can be found off of defeated enemies, chests, destructive barrels and decorative pots. Equipment when being picked up will be displayed in the format of the type being acquired but it isn’t until the completion of the stage that it will be “identified” in terms of rarity and its abilities. Obtaining new equipment definitely helps turn the tide of battle into your favor but equipment alone can sometimes not be enough. While some equipment can be good from the start, other pieces which may not be as good can sometimes in the long run be better because of the amount of gems that can be placed within. Gems like equipment can come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and abilities and these are what can truly make the difference especially if the piece of equipment was lackluster to start off with.
With four different characters that provide different experiences there are thankfully more than enough save files for each one. With all the characters being in different save files however it was great to see that inventory, as long as the items were locked down before being sold off for extra income, were accessible by any of the others as long as they had the basic stats to use them. This makes it easy enough for newer characters to move through the stages easier than their predecessor. With inventory being shared though, each character needs to complete the adventure once before moving up difficulty levels as that is something that can only be obtained by that character’s personal feats but the shared inventory definitely helps in that regard.
Overall Sadame provides a great experience on the Nintendo 3DS in which styles like this one have been missing for a while. With four different characters in order to tackle the storyline, a variety of equipment and spells, and just some good old fashioned combat, the adventure into a Yokai and Oni filled Ancient Japan is worth it.
Rising Star Japan
Article by Pierre-Yves