Onimusha Warlords makes a return for a third round on the current generation consoles. Released initially in 2001, it combines samurai action in a horror setting, but can its gameplay still feel good today?
For a long time, a hardcore fanbase have wondered what had happened to the Onimusha series and if we would ever see another game? Lo and behold, Onimusha Warlords was announced for the current generation with updated visuals, widescreen support and a plethora of other improvements.
In Onimusha Warlords, we play as both renowned samurai Samanosuke Akechi and ninja companion Kaede on a quest to save Princess Yuki from a legion of mysterious demons who have invaded Inabayama. These demons are attempting to perform a ritual that will see the resurrected Nobunaga Oda rise to power in order to fulfil their wishes.
Now I don't think you are going to play this for the sake of the narrative. Its pretty straightforward and doesn't really do anything in terms of twists and surprises. You essentially have your main objective and you will head down that road until the game's completion.
As I've not played any of the game's before, what really threw me for a loop at the beginning were the fixed cameras and my mind immediately went to Resident Evil. I found it quite odd for it to be included here, only because of how much combat was emphasised and not necessarily the 'jump scare' which I found this camera work to be just right for.
Saying this, I was able to adjust to it early on, so it was not causing any problems during my playthrough and I guess at some parts it was more valuable to have the camera this way instead of over the shoulder or free form.
After an early defeat you gain access to the Oni Gauntlet, a device that enables Samanosuke to collect the souls of defeated demons. You can use these souls to power up your weapons, orbs and items. The stronger the weapon, the easier time you will have, however the orbs are actually a part of the overall gameplay and some doors cannot be accessed without enhancing an orb to the right level.
There are three orbs in total which are partnered with three specific weapons which you will attain during your playthrough. These items can be enhanced by simply visiting a Magic Mirror. This will also serve as your save point throughout the adventure.
The general enemies you come across can be disposed of pretty easily, even the slightly bigger brutes can go down with a few well timed strikes. The combat is relatively easy to pick up as you have a button to attack, a button to strafe which allows you to move around the enemy easily and finally a button to block.
Against some of the game's bosses, I definitely recommend to block more rather than strafe around, however it all depends on the style you wish to go for. This is where the combat truly shines through as you don't have to necessarily stick to just one weapon for the duration of a battle and can switch between them at your convenience.
Other than for melee purposes, each weapon has its own unique magic attacks. Raizen for lightning, Enryuu for Fire and Arashi for Wind. You will also find other kinds of weapons too which I won't spoil here, but lets just say that Arashi was definitely my weapon of choice and a little too powerful with its magic.
Something that would have been really convenient is if I could use the d-pad to simply switch between the weapons I had rather than having to always go back to the pause menu to do it. I understand wanting to be faithful to the original, but this is one change that could have definitely made it more immersive and added a better flow to the gameplay.
When not engaged in combat, you will come across both small and large puzzles for you to conquer. The smaller puzzles are usually attached to treasure boxes to gain more items and the larger puzzles are worked into the actual gameplay itself. It offers the right amount of challenge and never did I feel that it felt out of place.
The overall game can be beaten in roughly 4 hours so there isn't a whole lot of content to go on, however I enjoyed my time with Onimusha Warlords and while it does have a few issues, it is a game that stays true to the original and still feels fun to play on this generation of consoles.
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