There’s a bit of misinformation in this post, and imo it’s disingenuous to compare SS5sp to Vampire Savior when the two games couldn’t be any more different. Why don’t we compare Tetris to Devil May Cry while we’re at it?
-Not everything is negative on block. AB normals and some specials are, but most kicks, A and B normals leave you able to block if they’re blocked. Any frame data tables for this game that are out there are pretty inaccurate unfortunately, but spending time with the game shows you that it’s not true that not everything is negative on block.
-No SS5sp doesn’t have a twitchy heavy rushdown rhythm to it, but the game can move incredibly fast especially if you’re playing characters like Ukyo, Basara, Yunfei, and many others. If anything, the fact that you actually have to think about what you’re going to do and pick your moment to attack is a plus in my book. It makes the game a lot more tense.
-There are plenty of combos in SS5sp. Watch players like KardboardKing, From Beyond, and Tank, and you’ll see tons of them. They aren’t massive “wait for 10 min while i finish my combo” types, but that’s never been how SamSho worked except in SamSho4, which is a lot faster paced and has the combo starter mechanics that lead to big combos. If you can’t maximize damage, you’re not going to win games, and one of the ways to maximize damage is to use combos, of which there are tons in this game.
-Playing defensively is advantageous in this game because the pacing mimics an actual duel. If you were fighting another swordsman in real life, you’d be an idiot to just RTSD. But there are characters who are best played more aggressively (Ukyo and Genjuro being a couple) so like you said, and I agree, there are many different styles of play to choose from here.
-Mechanically the game is incredibly deep. Sure, the game isn’t as executionally heavy as Guilty Gear at its most complex, but choosing whether to let your meter get to POW so you can utilize your super and do higher damage, or meditate it away and be able to use State Of Nothingness when things get down to the wire can be the difference between winning and losing. And it changes from character to character and matchup to matchup.
It doesn’t sound to me like you’ve played the game enough to really wrap your head around it beyond a basic level, and while it’s fairly easy to pick up initially, when you really start to play it more, it reveals itself. People can just download it on MAME and give it a shot if they have any doubts, or come join us in the SamSho5sp room on Fightcade, even if just to watch. There are always folks of all levels playing and I have to say, in the 6 or so months I’ve been playing this game seriously, the amount of people playing has really increased.