Sword of Asumi is the very first game published by Dharker Studios, and additionally, the first one that paved the way to one of the most popular publishers of adult visual novels on Steam.
Although Sword of Asumi is still an adult game, it doesn’t contain explicit nudity or sexual content, but instead, delivers a violent thrilling adventure with a possible romantic outcome.
In a fantasy era, where Japanese samurais never withered away, the modern world never got to interfere with its affairs and time dictated a very different reality for this place, now called Edo!
Although Edo is a modern-day place, traditional elements still rule over its people, and the samurais them selves have an important place in everyone's life.
Asumi, is a young samurai of the Black Clan, she endured a severe training regiment since a young age, and now all her effort seems to pay off, since the famous justices have a mission for her.
Although Edo is peaceful, secrets roam the country, and a special Samurai unit called Justicars was created to track down terrorists, spies and others to stop any further rebel attack.
Asumi is a trained, deadly samurai, but this new mission is different from anything she has faced before… A cover-up mission, where one must infiltrate an academy, and discover the identity of the Raven, an agent who plots against the country.
To prevent a civil war, or worse, Asumi must enroll in the Samurai Academy, and progressively blend within other students.
Sword of Asumi is an action packed Visual Novel, with mystery in every corner and enigmatic NPC’s to interact and unveil their plans. A classic Visual Novel with choices affecting the outcome, with a total of 6 bad endings and 5 good ones.
Since it’s Asumi’s objective to find and take down Raven, the player’s final action is entirely based on the investigation throughout the game, thus when the right time comes, one must choose the target. Bad endings usually are connected with wrong targets, or overall bad decisions. Good endings, though, are tied to successfully completing the mission, and also finding love.
Although it’s not directly a dating simulator, one can find love in the Samurai Academy, with four distinct characters, two of each gender. Hikari, the strong and mysterious type whom players might immediately feel curious about. Utsuro is the other possible male date, an intelligent and curious character, one can usually find him with his head stuck to the books.
Female dates are equally interesting, with Mineko as a cute bookworm, and Kaori, the popular fashion girl who’s a nerd at heart with a strange special taste for sexy cosplay costumes.
Characters have specific paths and dedicated activities, but they are always secondary to the main goal of the plot. Player choices with other NPC’s are present, but limited, this design choice marks Asumi as pragmatic and cold, but as the week passes by, we witness changes in the protagonist, and events. However, choices while engaging combat or espionage are crucial. Players can decide the best way to approach enemies, spare them or killing them. Tactical elements are also active with choice-based answers for school classes during exams or just pursuing suspects!
Social activities, tea with girlfriends, and school classes define the path to date and properly romance with the desired NPC, and ultimately lead the player to its final choice, when revealing the identity of the Raven.
The narrative was surely a surprise for anyone who played when the game came out and didn’t expect a deep and strong plot. Since we’re acquainted with the works of the studio, doesn’t really surprise us, but still, it’s worth the mentioning, and praising, the narrative and word choices.
Artistically, Sword of Asumi sets the quality visuals for the majority of Dharker Studios, with 2D anime style, but with a more western approach into its art.
The characters are still well done, with light and shadow working perfectly on the skin and clothes, offering the traditional 3D illusion we came to love.
Special cutscenes are displayed at specific points, where important moments occur, and show special hand drawn scenarios with characters.
Backgrounds are well done, with bright and atmospheric factors, hand drawn and painted to emphasize ambient elements such as sun, weather and overall giving away fantastic feelings of belonging to this virtual world.
Indoor locations are basic and generic traditional Japanese classroom and Dojo, with other significant areas, such as the beach, that was later used for Beach Bounce. 1280x720 is the original resolution, but upscaling the game to 1080p barely decreases the quality, making it perfect for full screen mode!
Although nudity is not available, not even with a an additional patch, characters are shown in a bikini, and in the case of Asumi, with beautiful and sexy lingerie! Fans of the genre and Dharker Studios in particular, are now used to enjoy sexual content, but Sword of Asumi doesn’t necessarily need any sort of sexual content, as violence and other adult themes are well displayed, with love being the executioner to end the conflict that shakes the entire country.
In this current state, Dharker Studios is known by their amazing music taste in-games and overall soundtracks. The sound works self titled as the game, presents the full soundtrack with 15 tracks from the game. Created by Blue Wolfie Music, we can best describe it as Japanese ambient pop music, with an upbeat feeling into it, and of course, reflecting the games emotional thriller. From the romantic moments to the most intense mysteries, the tunes are classical inspirations with a modern touch.
Soundtrack is in MP3 format, with every track at 320 kbps of Bitrate, except the last two trackers; Dreamers Theme Ft. Mika Kobayashi, both in English and Japanese, that are in a lower 128 Kbps.
Two more DLC’s are available, one of them is a Graphic Novel “Swords of Edo”, a 240 full color page novel, portraying a sequel to the original game, featuring Justicars of Edo, Asumi, Kami, and others. This book-of-sorts also displays character biographies, and intense fighting.
The other DLC is called “Character Creator” and offer players the opportunity to generate a character based with in-game models used. Choices range from body types, measures, cloths and even lingerie. It’s definitely fan service, and it’s more a curiosity other than anything, but still interesting, nonetheless!
Overall, Sword of Asumi is a great adventure that quickly emerges the player in the world of Edo, where Samurais fight for peace and die with honor. A path where Asumi herself must uncover the mystery and bring an end to the conflict within 11 different paths, each being about 2 hours long.