While the anime scene in general may very well be a niche in the conglomerate of other genres in the game industry, it’s still a very notable one to say the least. Japan’s culture has certainly touched us all in many ways and still continues to permeate through our souls on a daily basis. Anime styled games have always had their hits and misses and that can also be said about the AAA side of the spectrum. NIS America and developer Wazen have come together to create an action title that’s sure to become a hit, once everything flows together more naturally. We’re talking about Assault Spy, the latest action title that puts you in the driver's seat of a spy named Asaru, who’s out to track down and infiltrate the mega corporation. Along with your sidekick Kanoko, the two of you set out to kick ass and take names, by any means necessary. Anyone who truly enjoys an action oriented experience along with the anime allure that NIS America is typically renowned for, then Assault Spy will surely be of interest to you.
What to Expect
We need to make one thing very clear before we move on and it’s that Assault Spy is still in early access. For those who may be unfamiliar with that term, it essentially means that the game is still in working progress, even as the game is currently available for users to play. What this allows is for the developers to work hand-in-hand with the community to ensure that gameplay mechanics are fine tuned, controls are stable, and overall gameplay is entertaining enough to sustain long term playability. So in our review, we’ll be taking a look at some of the finer points of the game, while also pointing out areas of improvement to further enhance the gameplay experience.
As this is an action title, expect there to be a lot of button mashing and enemy slaying as you race through every level, in hopes of getting closer to tearing down the mega corporation. In a way, Assault Spy feels like a live action anime and you’re the director as things unfold. It’s nothing but high speed combat which takes place in a 3D realm, and you need to take out any security robot that stands between you and the information you desire. Dodge laser beams and bullets and dash your way in to smash the enemy to bits with your briefcase, all while looking dapper in your suit. Everything is dynamic meaning that as you progress through the game, you’ll unlock more skills through battles, and the more badass the chain combos are the better! Another perk is that you get the choice to either play as Asaru or the sexy and chic CIA agent Amelia. Each character has their own story but both are connected throughout the plot. Dive deeper with both and see where it takes you!
So now that you have an idea of what to expect with Assault Spy, we’re going to take you through the game and explore the aspects we enjoyed the most, while going into the areas where we felt the game needed a little more attention. So with that being said, let’s dive in!
So immediately you’re thrown into the game and you’re given the choice between Asaru or Amelia, and for starters, we chose Asaru to get a feel for the game mechanics. We loved the very fast paced style of the game as it complimented the story’s very frantic plot. You’re given a tutorial as you play through the game which is always a plus, since you get to involve yourself as you play and not have to go through a wall of text to understand. The control scheme is very simple and doesn’t require much configuration, especially if you’re used to action style games like let’s say Senran Kagura or the ever popular Ys franchise. It’s very much what you’d expect from your typical anime game, where all the action is over the top and is meant to throw you curveballs every now and then. Progressing through the game isn’t difficult either as much of your time is just going to be spent destroying enemies in your path, befriending people to assist you, and admiring the subtle comedy that’s thrown into the mix.
While all of that sounds great, Assault Spy still comes with its problems in the realm of character animation. Now as we emphasized before, the game is in early access which means that a lot of content is either unfinished, or will be tweaked later on to provide a more seamless experience. So what we’re about to discuss should be taken with a grain of salt and should not be the end result of what could potentially be changed over time. So going back to the animation with the characters, it’s quite evident that their movements are as fluid as we expected them to be. Asaru’s running animation, while comedic in its motion, still looks very robotic and he can only run in one direction. His dash isn’t as fluid either, especially when trying to dash cancel into attacks to kill the enemy. The animations tend to feel quite slow and the recovery after a combo leaves you open to enemy attacks, which we think should be fixed. We can’t speak too much about Amelia since we generally spent a great deal of time with Asaru, but we imagine that her animations will require some work to ensure consistency among everyone.
As you unlock new moves through defeating enemies, the gameplay gets way more enthralling since you’re able to combo together new things and create something cool looking. However, while all these moves look great individually, they tend to feel a bit weird when trying to combine them together. Simply put, the overall gameplay mechanics need to be fine tuned a bit more so that players can have an easier time with the attack and combo system. The levels also felt a bit dry since there wasn’t much to look at, and while the enemies are totally comical, they somehow just didn’t seem to pose enough of a challenge. It often times felt too easy to breeze through a room full of security bots before encountering a stronger enemy which started to get a little irritating, especially with the laggy combo system.
We did love the conversations each character had with each other and the relationship between Asaru and Kanoko was wonderful. It’s a stark contrast but that’s exactly what gives the game its charm. The game does a solid job on voice acting as expected from NIS America and overall the flow of the story is quite nice. It’s just the gameplay portion that we feel had its hits and misses and so once those kinks are ironed out, then we feel Assault Spy will be ready to kick ass in its full version.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
So while our consensus is pretty much a yes on picking up the game, we still feel like Assault Spy isn’t up to par just yet. It’s by no means a perfect game and will require a lot of care before it goes into full form, but it’s definitely not terrible. It’s just not at the place where it needs to be for a larger number of people to fully invest their time and money into. Sure, if you’re an action anime game fan then it’s of no concern, but if this is your first time hearing about Assault Spy, just make sure it’s what you’re looking for before diving in.
Fast paced action paired with great comedic thrills.
The overall concept is really cool and different.
Voice acting is solid.
Character animations require a lot of work.
Combo system needs tweaking.
Level design needs a little more time investment.
Ingame UI needs some retouching.
Honey's Final Verdict:
In the end, Assault Spy left us with a mixed response. On the one hand, we really liked the overall appeal of the game, along with the comedic story that’s tied into it all. On the other hand, we found a lot of what could make the game better just needs work at the moment, and until that happens, we may wait a bit until we jump back in. At $19.99, it’s not a wallet killer by any means so even if you don’t find the game to be enjoyable, it doesn’t really hurt too much. However, we feel that once all the issues are cleaned up then you’re certainly getting a game worth the price.
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!