Draw Slasher is based on one principle; you’re a ninja, and it’s time to cut some bad guys.
Your play the game as Hanzo; an expert ninja who’s out in the world doing typical ninja stuff when he gets news of a tragedy. At home, his family is kidnapped by zombie pirate monkeys, and he must return to save them. The game contains a humorous tone and a storyline and voice-overs that remind you of Ren & Stimpy, or South Park. Hanzo’s quips are often one-liners with some sort of sarcastic tone, such lines as; “Holy Shih Tsu!” push this game into the silly territory, though it seems to recover nicely with game play.
The main type of attack you use is sword slicing, using your finger to guide the blade you kill the zombie pirate monkeys. The more simple enemies require only one slice, while others require specialized attacks; such as an around the back slash, or a cut to a certain area of the body only. Touch attacks are the only type of attacks you can make, and the game maps only the menus to the buttons.
Draw Slasher gives you quite the difficulty curve; it’s almost too simple at the beginning, requiring almost no skill to complete and sending only the easiest enemies out to play. A touch-to-cut veteran, I breezed through the beginning of the game with very little thought or effort. A few chapters in however, I was quite stuck. Some of the challenges in this game require near perfect timing and accuracy, such as the barrel-jump task; over a minute of near-perfect accuracy required at this point, and it’s easily one of the hardest tasks in the game. These mini-games within the actual game itself took away from the enjoyment of the title, as they were unnecessarily difficult in some areas and I ended up stuck on a few of them. It was a frustrating experience and had me farming the earlier levels for points to upgrade my health – a feeble attempt to stay alive, as your health is repeatedly pummeled for mistakes in most mini-games.
Upgrades are managed in “The Dojo”, a store-type menu where you can upgrade your health, cutting stamina, and special attacks. Special attacks or “Ninjutsu” abilities are often the deciding factor in some of the harder free-for-all matches, though can’t be used in any of the accuracy mini-games. The abilities you can acquire are activated via screen-pinch, and are attacks meant to make it easy to kill enemies (or kill them instantly, depending on the attack). There is fury jutsu; a mode in which you can cut through anything, wind jutsu; a mode in which you’re invisible, and earth jutsu which shakes the earth and stuns enemies. There are also fire jutsu, which blows up zombies and lightning jutsu, which electrocutes them – both of these are instant-kill attacks.
Story mode is quite fun; actually more fun than I expected. The story is pretty weak in substance but what it lacks in detail it makes up for in one-liners and humor. Though not a long game, story mode will take you a few hours to complete – especially if you get stuck like I did. Boss fights are all very different, having different weaknesses and attack types. The game feels very fresh and doesn’t really remind me of any other titles, despite obvious comparisons.
There is also challenge mode, which gives you a “job” to complete in order to gain a ranking. Rankings range from 1-3 fireballs, and are based on a scale; usually the first tier is an easy task worth 1 fireball, and they get harder the higher the ranking you attempt. An example is a mission where 25 seconds of survival will get you one fireball, 50 will net you two, and 75 will net you three. It’s tiered ranking, simplified. There are twenty different challenges and four secret ones you must play to unlock this way; the better your ranking, the more unlocks.
Lastly there is arcade mode, in which you have one of two choices; gatekeeper or survival. Gatekeeper pits you in charge of guarding the entrance to a base. You can’t let zombies break though this entrance, and they spawn at random. In the Survival mode, you are set to kill as many zombies as possible – though unlike story mode you don’t obtain health orbs for kills, so you must not get hit. These extra modes offer jump-in type game-play and let this title bridge the gap between casual and story-based.
Graphically, this game is quite pretty. The animation is fluid and I didn’t notice any frame-drops or slow-downs. Backgrounds weren’t too distracting and fit the theme perfectly, setting the stage for your ninja attacks. I really can’t find much to complain about on the graphics front.
The sound was quite basic, with a soft background track and the slashing and pain noises filling most of the silence. I tended to play with either very low sound or the sound right off as it became distracting – especially in the mini-games I was stuck on. That said, sounds are crisp and accurate to the game play.
As for whether or not I enjoyed the game; I did. The frustrating parts were hard to get through, but doing so was rewarding. The story mode was well put together, and though the story itself was lacking it didn’t matter much in the scheme of things. Touch controls were spot-on and rarely did the character do something I didn’t mean to or miss an attack, high praise for games like this which often have input issues. I also enjoyed the Arcade mode, though Challenge mode seemed a bit repetitive and boring when you don’t enjoy the mini-games. Draw Slasher is fairly solid title and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a casual time waster, or those who like touch-to-cut type games.
Author’s Note: To those criticizing it’s resemblance to Fruit Ninja I’ll say this; not only was the first iteration of this game out before Fruit Ninja, it’s more complex and entertaining – and even pokes fun at it. This game offers much more content than Fruit Ninja, and provides many more game play options as well.