One night in Akane has lasted me 15 hours

I can’t find that many impressions of Akane, a game I bought on a whim from the Switch’s eStore, but it seems people are surprised that there’s only one level. Or that there’s no explanation for the intro animation of Akane herself, stood like Oldboy in a lift full of corpses, before the sounds of her bike crash and the title screen. And no explanation for what happened after the (themselves unexplained) childhood samurai training levels to even lead to this point. Or who the peach-pink cyborg boss even Katsuro is. There’s no real end either, as far as I can tell. It’s an infinite high-score game couched within a specific narrative scenario, a tension that’s set up and never resolved.

And I’m so glad I found it! Lots of what I like about it is right there behind the title screen, ready to go when you are. Akane’s stance: Pixel-pose, one-hand-on-hip, red trousers and white hair. Her Akira-style future-bike crashed and in flames. The flickering glow on its tyres. The washes of neon around this Neo Tokyo square. And four Yakuza surrounding you, angry at some never-revealed infraction. Clearly, something has happened. Then you press start and straight away the square of men closes in, straight away Akane is happening.

It sounds basic, but so many times I’m put off by action games that are all style and noise and indulgent kill animations, but without that vitality in their gamefeel, feeling like they happen at a slight remove – a puppet with slack in the strings.

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