Developer Good Catch, based in London, describes Black and White Bushido as a ‘2D arena brawler that pits the forces of light and shadow against each other’ which sums the game up rather well. This is a game where 2 opposing sides tactically battle to win short matches making use of skills and the environment to gain the upper hand over their opponents.
You play a ninja representing either the team of light or the team of shadow, with the objective usually to defeat the opposing team by killing them. Being a ninja stealth and strategy play a key role, and this is where the ‘Black and White’ from the games title comes into play. The environments are draped in a mix of light and shadow, and depending on which team you are playing for one represents sanctuary and the other exposure. When amongst your own territory you visibly blend into the background with only the most of subtle of colour difference allowing you or your opponents to see where you are. Amongst enemy territory, you contrast the environment completely and are visible to all. As such, you need to make use of the environment, moving between the light and the shadows to get yourself within range of your enemy at which point you can draw your sword and strike for the kill.
Alongside direct combat, stealth plays a large part. When in your own colour with a click of a button you can completely conceal yourself, and from there sneak around trying to position yourself for the kill. Taunts temporally reveal your location, and can be used as a mechanism to bait your opponent into either a well placed trap or the perfect kill spot. As the match progresses, the lighting shifts turning what was once safety into immediate exposure, forcing you to think on your feet. It works to ensure that stalemates aren’t really an option, as simply standing still isn’t really a strategy that will work for long. Strategy options are also enhanced by pickups which occasionally spawn. Shurikens can be thrown from afar, spike traps laid and smoke bombs used to teleport and strike from a far. All these mechanics come together to add a reasonable amount of depth to a conceptually simple idea, and ensure that gameplay is varied rather than just a constant straight-up fight.
Taking the experience online against other players is where the mastery becomes very important, with games switching between frantic direct combat and a tense stealth like submarine warfare. A relatively low online population means that match making can take a fair while, and playing offline against local bots lacks the satisfaction of competing against other people. Local play supports up to 4 players, hence if you have friends nearby willing to play then this is the best way currently to experience what the game has to offer.
Overall the game is fun, and the light vs shadow mechanics make for a fresh and unique feeling experience. The game is well presented, with a classic Japanese styling for both the graphics and audio evoking of an era of samurais and ninjas. The games achilles heal is really the longevity, which without anybody else to play with is rather short. Alone it will take you little more than 30 or 40 minutes to experience all that the game has to offer, with little reason to try and master it. It’s best enjoyed with friends or others, and as such if you don’t really play games with others or online then its hard to recommend. However, if you regularly play couch co-op or online with others and are looking for another game thats accessible and fun then Black and White Bushido is definitely worth a look.
Black and White Bushido was provided to us by Microsoft via a download code for Xbox One.