Crafting and Katanas
Developed by Colossi Games, Daisho: Survival of a Samurai is a hybrid action RPG and crafting survival game. Set in the 1550s, players take the role of a young Japanese noblewoman during the tumultuous Warring States period. When bandits sack the family estate and kill her father, she must rebuild the town and begin her quest for revenge. Multiple historical characters make an appearance, including Nobunaga Oda and Tokichiro Kinoshita.
Rebuilding the player character’s estate and the surrounding town increases the town’s Prosperity level and advances the main questline. However, that requires resources and a lot of money, which Daisho’s protagonist no longer has. Thus, the player must explore the wilderness, gather building materials, and rebuild the family fortune.
Daisho’s basic gameplay mechanics are relatively straightforward. Viewing the world from an isometric perspective, players move with a virtual joystick on the left side of the screen. The Attack button is on the bottom right, next to two quick select slots and a contextual interaction button.
Colossi Games deserves some credit for Daisho’s weapon variety. I mostly stuck to katanas, but there are also staves, spears, bows, and slings to choose from. However, combat primarily consists of running up to enemies and holding down the attack button, occasionally using items to restore health. Some enemies have area-of-effect attacks for players to avoid, but there is no blocking or dodge move. As a result, combat mostly comes down to who has the most health points and knowing when to run for it.
Building Your Stronghold
Rebuilding the town is the hub around which the rest of the game revolves. The area is littered with debris, damaged walls, and burned buildings needing reconstruction. In addition to standard resources like stone, wood and clay, construction requires specialized tools and a lot of Gold.
Players can’t craft their own tools, instead buying them from Tool Merchants. However, “buying” might be the wrong word. Daisho players give them Gold, then receive a random tool 15 minutes later. However, it will not necessarily be the tool you currently need. There is a system by which players can trade tools for Pearls and trade Pearls for other tools. However, the exchange rate isn’t exactly fair. While there are different ways to get Pearls, it is a slow and conflated process no matter what.
Gold thus becomes the main factor limiting progression. Players get a little bit of Gold daily, presumably representing the estate’s income. Unfortunately, you’ll need a lot more to build anything. Occasionally, you’ll find small amounts of Gold on enemies or in treasure chests in the wilderness. However, the player’s primary income will come from Merchant Tasks. These side quests pay out a decent amount of Gold if players bring back specified numbers of different items. I don’t know who’s buying all of these Animal Teeth and Stone Chips, but they are buying a lot of them.
Not Quite Nobunaga
The merchant has two or three quests available at a time, but players can only track one. However, even if the developer changed that, it would still be an excruciatingly tedious experience. Your weapons, armor axe and pickaxe degrade with use, forcing you back to the estate to repair them. Meanwhile, enemies don’t always drop the items you need, and it may take multiple trips to complete a quest.
I wouldn’t complain as much if I felt I was working towards something specific, but that isn’t the case. Let me give an example of what I mean. In 2021, I reviewed a survival game called No Way to Die. If I need to fix a radio in that game, I need specific components. To find them, I need to go into higher-level areas, so I need to create better weapons. There is a clear line from doing A to do B and doing B to do C, et cetera. With Daisho, I’m doing fetch quests to grind Gold to fix random buildings because Nobunaga told me to. This raises a nebulous Prosperity rating, which supposedly helps me find my father’s killer, but not in any tangible sense.
I think Daisho needs to be primarily an RPG, a crafting survival game or a town-building game. It feels like Colossi Games is trying to do all three but fails to mesh them together well. I’m sure some people will enjoy Daisho: Survival of a Samurai. However, I feel like everything it does is done better by other, more focused games. As it stands, the game is only mediocre at everything.
Is It Hardcore?
Daisho: Survival of a Samurai splits itself between being an RPG, a crafting-survival game and a town builder, but doesn’t excel at being any one of them.