Black & White Bushido Review

By Kelly Packard, 5 days ago
Gamers used to clamor for games to include a local co-op or versus mode so we could play against our friends and siblings. As we grew up, our friends moved away, our technologies advanced, and our culture shifted toward virtual gaming interactions. For many, the desire for couch co-op transitioned to a demand for an online component, allowing us a method to enjoy the same games without the need to be in the same room. Had Black & White Bushido released 15 years ago, it would have been local versus only. In fact, when it originally released on PC in 2015, it was local multiplayer only.

Developer Good Catch Games has taken it upon themselves to port Bushido to consoles complete with an online experience. This is a lot of effort for a bargain bin, multiplayer-focused indie game. The question is whether or not it was worth it.


Visually, Black & White Bushido is eye-catching thanks to the stark contrast between black and white. Its visuals are integral to its gameplay, as the name would imply. The gameplay formula revolves around the two sides of Light and Shadow. Samurais donning white or black apparel can blend into a background of the same shade but will stick out like a sore thumb against a backdrop of the opposing color. Standing still for a moment will allow a samurai to blend completely into the background, giving no indication they are there. It'll be your job to keep track of your enemies — the ones visible, the ones running at you with their sword in hand, and those waiting to ambush you from the shadows.

It's a simple concept that utilizes a "less is more" mentality and it can be a lot of fun sneaking in the shadows, laying in wait to surprise an unsuspecting opponent or throwing it all to the wind and running head-on at your enemy through an area of the opposite color. There is tension created by the backgrounds shifting continually, so what once was a safe hiding spot may soon transform into a spotlight on your position.

This shark is terrible at hidingThis shark is terrible at hiding

There are three ways to play: locally, online and single player versus the AI. There are two choices for game modes; there is Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, both being just what you think. There is one additional option to play a challenge mode, which is only available in single player. The mode throws out random requests, such as "Kill two enemies at the same time", and it'll be your job to complete as many of these as you can without dying. At the end, it'll total up your score to let you know how you did. This is the most entertaining mode; it requires technique as opposed to just slaughtering the AI. There's also the added challenge of not dying when you may perish 10 or even 20 times in a multiplayer match.

The mechanics are simple and function well, which is fitting for the type of game this is. There is just jumping, slashing, sneaking — slowly moving through the shadows where proceeding in this fashion won't break your stealth — and using items. The gameplay is good for a few surprises and it gets especially chaotic the more players are involved in the match. It also gets far more interesting when human players are actually involved. While there is the option to play versus the AI, unfortunately they verge from laughable to idiotic and won't offer up a challenge to anyone with a pulse. It's not uncommon to see an enemy samurai running into a wall repeatedly or continually failing to make the same jump. There are no separate difficulties for computer-controlled enemies, so you're stuck with the one.

I think I lost my own characterI think I lost my own character

There is nothing that's going to occupy players long-term, even with challenge mode. Despite being fun, controlling smoothly and having a sleek visual presentation, how long can players play Capture the Flag and Deathmatch on the same six maps? How many times will they be willing to complete the same challenges? Since the AI doesn't offer a real experience, how long will Bushido maintain an active multiplayer community when there is no progression, leaderboards or anything else to incentivize players to keep going? At the same time, the developer isn't asking an arm and a leg for it — it's US$12.99. It's fun. The gimmick is cool. There is enjoyment to be had for a short period of time, but there's just not much here at the end of the day.

As far as the achievements go, gamers will be pleased to learn Bushido is set to quickly make a name for itself in the top tier of easy Xbox One completions. If you come into the game with the mindset of getting 1,000 gamerscore and experiencing nothing else, it shouldn't even take you an hour to earn all 12 straightforward achievements. The biggest "challenge" posed to some gamers will be the achievement that requires four controllers, but it's nothing that borrowing a few from a friend won't fix.

Summary

Black & White Bushido is a fun multiplayer-focused brawler where "simplicity" is the name of the game, with simple, functional mechanics to match its simple but unique presentation. Unlike many indie games out there, it has an online multiplayer component in addition to its local options. The AI poses no challenge when compared to human players and there is only one difficulty for bots, so multiplayer is the place to go to get the most enjoyment. But with only two game modes and six similar maps, even with the ability to play online, there just isn't a lot here to keep players captivated any longer than short-term.
3 / 5
Positives
  • Smooth and simple mechanics
  • Unique presentation
Negatives
  • AI are laughably bad
  • Lacking options, features and lasting appeal
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent three hours being a stealthy but mostly not-so-stealthy warrior, testing out her skills in multiplayer, local and single player modes. 12 out of 12 achievements were earned for 1,000 gamerscore. An Xbox One code was provided by the ID@Xbox team for the purpose of this review.
Kelly Packard
Written by Kelly Packard
College student, longtime gamer, writer and junk food enthusiast. If you see me around the site or around the web, say hello!