Hanako: Soul of the Samurai – Channeling My Ki

Hanako: Soul of the Samurai is an in-development game by +Mpact games.  Set in feudal Japan, this third-person swordplay game will have you engrossed in the stunning scenery and interesting world of Hanako.  While I was only to play the “Kenshi” class, I saw enough to know that I’m extremely excited to play the final product of Hanako, slated for release in early 2016.

Image used with permission. Courtesy +Mpact Games.

The final iteration of Hanako will feature four classes with in-depth skill trees and diverse gameplay between each class.  The combat is elegant, using the movements of the player’s keyboard to guide the avatar’s sword to deliver devastating cuts.  Hanako’s intense style of hand-to-hand combat will be seen in several gamemodes, more than the traditional deathmatch style that I was able to play in the demo.

The gameplay is deeply rooted in the story of Hanako.  The power-hungry Yamai samurai clan butts heads against the loyal clan Hanako in a struggle for control over the nation.  Gameplay involves a multi-episode campaign wherein each clan must push toward their goal and direct the flow of battle back and forth across Japan.

The art style of Hanako, like the gameplay and story, are deeply rooted in the concept of balance and harmony.  Colors drain from characters as they take damage, bringing the contrast of color into the delicate balance of life and death and the struggle for power between the two rival clans.  Every character has an easy-to-read silhouette, and although visuals are stunning and detailed, large visual concepts are not lost to the tiny details present in the game.

Image used with permission. Courtesy +Mpact Games.

I had the opportunity to ask Matt Canei, creative/art director of Hanako, a few questions about his game.

Hanako is currently a work in progress, though it shows promise in testing.  What major additions do you plan to add to the game before its final release?

Matt Canei: We still have so much of the design to prototype, refine and polish. Most of our Kickstarter demo was to show our combat, which has been through a few rounds of refinement already, and to show the concept of abilities and how they work. We are focusing on more expanded gameplay now like skill trees, some of our level mechanics and just getting the rest of the game represented.

Tell me a little about the rival clans of Hanako. What was your inspiration to the backstory?

Matt Canei: The rival clans are one of the most important references in Hanako. The Hanako are sort of the protagonist – they stand for virtuous qualities, the quintessential samurai way of life. They adhere strictly to the code of Bushido and sincerely feel a spiritual connection with nature. The Yamai are the antagonists – they have the perspective of doing good to unite Japan but don’t quite realize the unnecessary death and destruction they bring upon the land they siege through. On a more personal level, the Hanako represent my mother and her qualities while the Yamai are metaphorical of disease and the tragedy that claimed her life.

Are there any previous works that inspired the gameplay style of Hanako?

Matt Canei: The top influence for the gameplay is the Jedi Knight series. I still think that game had the best melee fighting system of any game so far, even though it was lightsabers and the force. I’d say we’re aiming for similar fluidity and intuition behind the system without having it feel exactly the same.

Hanako is currently a work in progress, though it shows promise in testing.  What major additions do you plan to add to the game before its final release?

Matt Canei: We still have so much of the design to prototype, refine and polish. Most of our Kickstarter demo was to show our combat, which has been through a few rounds of refinement already, and to show the concept of abilities and how they work. We are focusing on more expanded gameplay now like skill trees, some of our level mechanics and just getting the rest of the game represented.

Image used with permission. Courtesy +Mpact Games.

Hanako is an extremely important project to Canei.  The loss of his mother fueled the project and as a result is extremely important to Canei’s heart.  This traumatic life event was the inspiration for a game focusing on the careful balances present within the game.

Hanako is still in development, and as of this article being posted the game isn’t near its $70,000 goal on Kickstarter, but there are still 36 hours left to go.  If you care to donate to Hanako, check out the Kickstarter project at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/550323322/hanako-soul-of-the-samurai

To check out the Steam Greenlight page, head over to http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=348735267

Art/Screenshots used with permission and are courtesy of +Mpact Games.

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