First Cut: Samurai Duel is a 2D fighter where swords are as deadly as they should be

I’m a sucker for games where swords are the pointy death delivery devices they truly are, rather than the big, blunt sticks so many turn them into. First Cut: Samurai Duel seems to be aiming its blades at my heart, then. It’s a 2D sidescrolling swordfighter in which each connecting blow means instant death, and it has a January 17th release date.

The release date announcement was marked by a new pixel blood-filled trailer:

First Duel: Samurai Duel release date trailer.

The obvious comparison for any 2D swordfighting game is Nidhogg, which had a similarly deadly approach to combat. Where Nidhogg boiled down your sword swings to distinct high, mid and low attacks, First Cut seems to let you use the mouse to smoothly shift your sword higher or lower. Or at least that’s the case in the original free game, which is still available on Itch and worth some of your time.

Your fighter’s moveset includes a dodge and a shove, but otherwise it’s about parrying your enemy’s attacks and finding the right moment to strike. The Steam page for the full release also makes mention of a bunch of modes, including survival, a scenario campaign, and local multiplayer.

While Nidhogg is the most obvious comparison, the more realistic fighters and setting of First Cut also give me an excuse to mention ’90s cult fighting game Bushido Blade. It had similarly instant death within a 3D world and never got the due it deserved.

To me, Nidhogg and its sequel never got the due they deserved, either. Perhaps First Cut will be the game that finally popularises swords that slice.