"Gather round, all of you who would listen. I have a tale to tell."
Rise of the Kasai is a video game released in 2005, and the sequel to The Mark of Kri. The first game being developed by SCE San Diego Studio, the second by Bottlerocket Entertainment and both published by Sony Computer Entertainment America, the series is notable for three things. First, its unique combat system, which targets various enemies and assigns them to a specific attack button, with different weapons targeting more enemies and having greater reach while sacrificing attack speed, while also blending stealth gameplay to excellent effect. Second, its unique and beautiful art style, heavily influenced by Polynesian art and culture; the games look like something out of a very well done Disney film, with cutscenes opening as they appear to be drawn, gradually filling out from there. Thirdly, the brutality and gore associated with the combat, which was rather extreme for its time, and was all the more noticeable when contrasted to the previously mentioned cartoony art style. Decapitation, dismemberment, impalements, broken necks, crushed skulls, and slit throats were all common sights.The games told an epic story in minimalistic style, capturing a feeling of high adventure reminiscent of sword and sandal movies of the past, with some reviewers dubbing Rau as a "modern day Conan the Barbarian". The soundtrack, lighting, and ambient noise created a great sense of atmosphere, giving a real feeling of tension while in stealth, or a rush of excitement while in combat. The characters were archetypal but not cliche. Rau especially was given considerable depth, given his nature as a silent protagonist.Another major aspect of game play was strategy; through a spirit guide and remote viewing, the player could scout the battlefield ahead, take enemy numbers and movements into account, and plan accordingly. Enemies could be eliminated from a distance with a bow, various objects could be used to create distractions, and the perfect path for stealth could be mapped out.The series was not without its flaws, however. Enemy A.I. was poor at best, lessening the challenge. The gameplay could get repetitive at times, and many considered it a waste of an interesting combat system to have the majority of the game focus on sneaking around in stealth. The game was generally considered too short and too easy, and the partner A.I. in Rise of the Kasai (plus lack of co-op play) caused many to be disappointed with the sequel that didn't fix any of the problems of the original, with both games receiving mixed reviews.The games are still considered cult classics, with fans of the series fondly remembering the stylistic nature of the games. Sadly, Bottlerocket Entertainment went bust a couple years ago, and no words on any further development in the series have been forth coming.
An Axe to Grind: Technically, all the characters except Griz have axes as their heavy weapon. It probably counts as Baumusu's signature weapon, though.
Annoying Arrows: Played straight for the most part; heroes and mooks alike can take several arrows(or spears or throwing knives, in the case of Baumusu and Grizz, respectively) to the torso before dying, only being slightly jarred from the impact. However, a projectile to the head will be instantly fatal. The mooks are all terrible shots, however.
Armor Is Useless: Averted; armored enemies are immune to most ranged attacks (except from Tati's mushrooms), making armored enemy archers(who usually can't be reached) a major threat. In melee, armored enemies are significantly tougher than their unarmored counterparts. The heroes don't wear armor because so much of their style is focused on stealth.
Cursed with Awesome: Tati and Grizz are both marked with lines from ancient, evil spells that let them scout ahead by seeing through the eyes of corpses and turn invisible. Pretty handy for stealthy kills.
Dark Action Girl: Given her protagonistic position, Tati's suppossed to be the straight-up Action Girl, but the straight-up Action Girl fights with bravery and honor, embracing the proper form of combat. Tati, on the other hand, fights with rage and bloodlust, trying to make sure her enemies never get to attack her, and brutally killing them in excruciatingly violent manners.
The Dragon: The Dark One offers to make Rau his Dragon at the end of Mark of Kri. Doesn't work, see Not So Different below. Maibisi is served by the twins, who really don't feature in the story much, but serve the function due to the vital role they play in his organization, which is keeping the Horde under control with their power to mind control men.
The Dreaded: The Tribe of the Bear God are the enemies that Rau most fears and respects; while he isn't outright terrified of them, he becomes noticably withdrawn when entering their territory. If it is possible for a place to be The Dreaded, Hassa would count for Kuzo.
Face Heel Turn: Mei Bisi was a former member of the Rakus, an organization made for protecting those cursed with the marks. But he betrayed his fellow Rakus and became the leader of the Kasai. He also gives Tati the option to make the switch as well.
Fanservice: Tati's outfits, especally her evil costume, which is technically topless, covering her chest with body paint.
Fetish Fuel Station Attendant: Not only does Tati have such a sexy outfit, her animations are also extremely sexy. Especially the ones for attacking enemies.
Heroic Mime: Rau in Mark of Kri counts; besides battle cries, he doesn't have a line of dialogue in the game. He's not much better in Kasai, calling on Tati for help when fighting certain bosses and saying Tati's name towards the end.
Grizz, again. Probably more so than Tati, as not only does he use knives to slice people up close, but throwing knives at a distance.
Lightning Bruiser: Rau. He can make an axe the size of a truck tire move in a blur of speed.
Baumusu taught him everything he knows.
Mark of the Beast: The Mark of Kri and other marks of the ancient spells. Something of a subversion; the marks themselves are evil, but the marked people aren't necessarily, and are born marked, therefore not having a choice in the matter.
Multi-Melee Master: Everyone. Each character gets four weapons; three melee and one ranged.
In the second game, Mei Bisi does this with Tati. Ultimately, it's up to the player to decide weather or not it works.
Off with His Head!: Several combos can result in heads rolling. Sometimes just a lucky shot will do the trick.
Poison Mushroom: An inversion; Tati uses literal poison mushrooms as weapons. Setting them as traps that kill enemies if they step on them, or planting them on enemies so that they explode in a cloud of poisonous gas when said enemy walks up to their friends.
The Quiet One: Rau. Out of the protagonist, he speaks the least; aside from battle cries he doesn't say anything in the first game, with only a handful of lines of dialog in the second. Kuzo's narration suggests he says more off camera, but still doesn't talk much.
Religion of Evil: The Kasai and the Gangun Priests don't hide behind any false pretenses; they worship the forces of evil and will kill anyone who opposes them.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The final level of Mark of Kri is this for Rau; it doesn't even make the pretext of using stealth. For Tati, pretty much the whole of Rise of the Kasai after Grizz's death boils down to this.
Actually, even before Grizz died, Tati was still on this rampage. According to the manual, her family and friends from childhood were murdered by Kasai warriors right before her eyes, and in the first game, she was used as a "battery" for the Kasai to awaken the dead.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Not quite; Rau and Baumusu don't throw their own swords, but they can disarm sword weilding enemies and throw them back at them; it will always stick them in the throat, resulting in an instant kill.
The Unfought: Meibisi, technically. In the final fight, he goes straight into one winged angel mode, despite having been a Rakus, and therefore —one would assume— as trained in combat as either Rau or Tati. That being said, he had been using magic instead of melee for twenty years and may have simply been out of practice. Still, he was immortal at the time, so he could have tried.
Useless Useful Stealth: For the most part the game averts this, but sometimes your AI partner will jump the gun, ruining your attempts at stealth. It can get frustrating at times.