Onimusha Warlords was originally an exclusive title for PlayStation 2 released way back in 2001. It received great reviews that enjoyed the sharp visuals and amazing CG cut scenes. Capcom produced an excellent little game that was originally a spin-off to Resident Evil. However, 18 years on and coming out on the much more powerful PS4, can this re-release get the same great reviews?
The original story remains as Samanosuke Akechi fights his way through demons to save Princess Yuki from Nobunaga Oda and his master Fortinbras. Using a magical gauntlet, you collect souls from your fallen enemies to upgrade your weapons and equipment as you explore the Inabayama Castle. There are puzzles to solve and locked doors to unlock as you try and uncover what has really happened to Princess Yuki.
For those who played the original not much has changed. The main change to the game is the updated control settings that now offer support for the DualShock thumbsticks. This makes for smoother movement and added agility when in battles. The rest of the controls remain the same with block, attack and switch weapons being the vast majority of options.
Graphics wise it looks as if the game has had a brush up to make use of the extra power of the PlayStation 4. The game is also built for widescreen display now as well so shouldn’t have any trouble displaying on bigger screens. Enemies look brighter and there is no delay when moving between areas which are helpful considering how the world loads onto your screen. The CG scenes remain beautiful, but you can’t skip them if you are on your second playthrough.
What can’t be forgiven is the way you move through this game. Everything is done in pre-rendered scenes with no camera control. This means you may find yourself fighting in confined spaces with enemies just suddenly appearing around corners because of how the world has loaded. In some of the boss battles where you are in a bigger space, you may find controls reversing on you as a new part of the map loads. This becomes frustrating when you are trying to land hits on a boss just to have the screen move.
If you played the original, then you will be familiar with your weapon options. 3 variations of swords (Raizan, Enryuu & Shippuu) are your main weapon choice, each with their own special attack and style. You get a ranged weapon choice of a bow or gun that can be used to take out archers and hit enemies from afar. Using the right sword at the right time certainly pays off. Some enemies are fast and won’t stand still for long so using your Shippuu sword which is light and fast will work best.
There will be short parts of the game where you play as Kaede, a female ninja who partnered up with Samanosuke when she was originally sent to kill him. She uses a sacred knife as her main or throwing knives as your ranged option. Kaede is a far more agile fighter but with no upgrade options, she is vulnerable. You do not spend much time as her, but you will need to adjust your combat style when you are playing as her.
The gameplay remains hack and slash fun. Collecting souls from the dead lets you upgrade weapons and equipment which in turn lets you open new doors and kill stronger enemies. Swords go up to level 3 which, depending on how many times you run around a certain area, you will reach pretty quickly. Upgrading only makes the weapons stronger and there are no skill points to unlock so no real character development.
Difficulty wise the enemies are pretty simple to overcome. Your block will literally block anything, including hits from enemies carrying tree size axes. Most bosses fall under the big, heavy and slow category so getting past them is easy enough. Once you learn the attack style of an enemy you will find yourself clearing through this game pretty quickly.
I completed the game in about 4 hours and that included spending some time in the Dark Realm, a wave survival mode hidden in the game. This game length remains the same as the original which was produced in a time where Onimusha would have been costing a lot of money. Obviously, this doesn’t compare to the 100-hour games we get nowadays, but it was nice to play a shorter game for a change.
Onimusha Warlords is a good re-release. It may be a short game in comparison to other titles but the 4 or so hours of gameplay are packed with enjoyment. The updated controls and graphics make it more at home on the upgraded consoles. Gameplay remains true to its original hack and slash fun which is even better now the game runs smoothly. Gamers revisiting this classic will not be disappointed. Those wanting to know what the PS2 classic was all about will now be able to enjoy it on the PS4.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*