Assault Spy is game that promises an action-packed experience with an anime-esque feel, and is one of the games that delivers on what it promises. Wrapped up in a story that really serves as a backdrop for gameplay, the game is a nonstop marathon of fun fighting. It has the feel of a high-action anime series and the gameplay and style fit together and compliment each other in a way that great games usually do.
It’s not a perfect game, and in all honestly, currently not worth the $19.99 price tag it has, but as the game is in Early Access, you shouldn’t expect a finished project. The bright side is that where the game falls flat is in the more superficial aspects. As Assault Spy stands now, it’s strengths are where they should be: fun, thoughtful, and solid gameplay.
More on that later, but the game’s weaknesses are hard to ignore. Upon starting the game, it’s immediately obvious that the realtime graphics aren’t up to par. In-game graphics are blocky and low resolution, and don’t fit well with the high polish given to the story cutscenes and the gameplay. This is the weakest part of the game. Environments feel stale and empty (though given that most of the game takes place in an office building, this might be done on purpose).
Anime has a huge influence on this game. The story takes place in a fictional place called “Japam” and the characters are rendered in an anime style. Asaru is the cool, level headed agent and his partner, Kanoko, is the cloudcuckoolander girl. As far as anime stereotypes go, these two aren’t breaking any new ground, but in a game like this, they don’t really have to. They’re sympathetic and likeable enough that you want to see them succeed, and they way that they bicker can sometimes be entertaining.
Speaking of anime, there’s an undercurrent of humor in Assault Spy, by which I mean Assaut Spy is a game that acknowledges what it is and as a result doesn’t take itself too seriously. That’s important in a game like this, where Asaru’s main form of attack is throwing business cards that explode at robots that are skilled in punching, origami, and politeness.
Most games that can be considered great are so because the elements in them work together to strengthen each other, and this is true for Assault Spy. The anime style and humor reinforce the almost ridiculous gameplay. You play the game as Asaru, and use your briefcase and umbrella to attack robots in an office building that’s been taken over by a magician. And it’s a lot of fun. Gameplay is tight and responsive, and the combos you can perform are easy to execute.
Most of the game consists of you walking into a room, taking down a few waves of robot minions in the room, and moving on to the next. There’s not a lot of options to explore and not a lot of branching paths, but the game focus is where it should be. Exploration would be a needless distraction in a game that’s meant to get your heart racing.
Along the way, you will collect points (by how well you do in fights) and can use those points to upgrade your combos and skills. It’s a good simple system that expands the game interesting ways. At one point there was a boss that kept killing me, so I went and purchased a few new skills, giving me a new approach that worked.
I’ve praised the gameplay in Assault Spy plenty, but there is one caveat. This is one of those games that needs a controller. Assault Spy has the feel of a badly done port. I acknowledge that the game is Early Access, but given how they are trying to get it on the PC , there’s little excuse for not having a key binding for the secondary attack. As the game stands now, it’s not worth getting at all if you don’t have a controller for your PC.
But if you can deal with that, Assault Spy is a solid game, even in Early Access. It’s just a smorgasbord of light fun. It’s almost therapeutic to have a game come along every once in a while where the main goal is to fight bad guys, move to the next room, and fight more bad guys. If the dev team can smooth out the graphics and improve the PC controls, it’ll be ready as a silly and light-hearted action game.
Preview code generously provided by NIS America