The eagle-eyed readers amongst you may well recognise Akuto: Showdown, and you would be right to. The game started out as Akuto: Mad World and was originally released as an early access title on Steam way back in December 2016 (if you can even recall such a time).
The full game, with its new Akuto: Showdown title, was finally released after continuous tinkering by developers Hut 90 in March 2019. It was later brought to the Nintendo Switch in December 2019, and has now found its way to Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.
It’s worth mentioning that when the game was first released, it picked up numerous award nominations. However, in light of there being no updates to this Xbox version, and with other similar games such as Among Us and Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout taking the gaming world by storm recently, how well does Akuto: Showdown hold its own in this arena?
Gladly, Akuto: Showdown is easy to pick up and play. You have a simple set of moves at your disposal: block, attack, roll and a power up ability. The aim is simply to eliminate all opponents, and be the last man standing. There are a few ways to play, such as through scores or having a set amount of lives, as well as choosing which weapons to start off with. You can also play solo or in teams, and can choose to have friendly fire on if you dare.
Rather oddly, when playing for scores the game has never allowed me to continue beyond the first round, no matter if I won or not. It did when playing with stock (lives), so I can only assume this is a glitch that will hopefully be ironed out upon release. It was the same case when playing cooperatively, and not just with bots.
In terms of weapons, there are two types at your disposal – melee and ranged options of which you’ll unlock more as you play. Some are pretty ridiculous, but by extension great fun to use, especially the rocket launcher and a frost gun, which stops enemies in their tracks.
As well as weapon drops, there are also “?” pickups to grab on each stage, which will award a random buff for your character. This may come in the form of a shield or even a secondary version of yourself, who mirrors and fights alongside you.
Alongside the rules of engagement you can also fiddle with some other, more cosmetic options in the pause menu. These include pixelating kills, turning on slow motion deaths, upping the screen shake when someone is killed and toggling between blood or colour cubes that pour out of your victims upon death. It’s definitely a good idea to spend a little time tweaking these to your preference, as it’ll make the carnage much more enjoyable than the default settings do.
Your colourful avatars can be customised with funky hats, and you unlock more as you level up. This is done by simply playing matches, which will also see you bag achievements. However, there are no point tallies to track regarding levelling up, so despite being able to see your progress bar it feels quite random.
The skirmishes take place in strongly themed battlefields, each complete with a well-matched soundtrack. Some also have hazards, such as steam trains, that you will need to avoid whilst battling your opponents. One arena, El Pueblo, is backed by music which is very reminiscent of the first Red Dead Redemption game. It looks and sounds great.
Overall, combat in Akuto: Showdown is straightforward but takes a bit of getting used to. It feels like it plays with turn for turn kills at first, especially when battling with bots (ie. it’s difficult to string kills together without being yourself killed after each one). Of course, playing along locally with friends is how the game is designed to be taken in, and it’s more fun this way despite it being difficult to organise given the current restrictions. There’s nothing that quite compares to having your opponent, or team mate, right beside you during the action.
There is, however, a huge omission with Akuto: Showdown. That is the lack of online play. It feels that by now this should really feature in any game of this ilk, and its absence will most likely see the game slip behind its rivals. I really do wish Akuto: Showdown had an online multiplayer mode; if it did it would definitely allow players to spend more time with the game. However, you’ll have to make do with online leaderboards instead, as well as stats summarising your play time, both of which add a limited amount of replayability.
Akuto: Showdown on Xbox is simple and fun to play, but feels as if it has fallen short of its full potential, mostly due to an absence of online play. This prevents the game from being a “must have”, however if you have friends at hand (or can hang on a few months until social distancing is in the past), then it’s worth giving this a look.