Overall - 80%
Those who enjoyed the original release of Onimusha: Warlords way back when will enjoy their time with this remaster. Even if you're a newcomer to the series, fans of action RPGs will appreciate its design.
After 18 years, Onimusha has been remastered and brought back to home consoles. Does this demon slaying samurai hold up after nearly 20 years, or should you keep your memories squarely in the past? Check out our review and find out what we thought.
Onimusha: Warlords Review
In Onimusha: Warlords, players take on the role of Samanosuke Akechi, a samurai who has fought against the armies of Nobunaga. After the death of Nobunaga, Samanosuke gets a letter from his cousin, asking for his assistance at her castle. When he arrives, he is quickly ambushed by the demons that have invaded. Despite his best efforts, Samanosuke is no match for the demons as he is now. After he is defeated, the Oni grants him the power to absorb demon souls and the ability to use magic weapons. Powered up and with a renewed purpose, Samanosuke seeks to end the demon blight that infests the castle and rescue his cousin Princess Yuki.
Onimusha: Warlords is an action RPG at heart. The combat is interesting, because it can be done in two ways. Players can hold the R1 button and take a stance, which offers the ability to dodge and swing your weapons in different ways. However, the attack button can also be used, which offers a quick, basic combo when you need to act fast. The game almost feels like a hack-and-slash at times, because you will be killing a lot of demons in a short amount of time. There are three main magic weapons, and two sub-weapons you can find and use. You can miss the sub weapons if you don’t explore, but the magic weapons are required to progress.
These magic weapons are powerful, and you can use their magic assuming you have enough mana. Your mana is very limited, so you can’t just rely on magic attacks to win the game. On the other hand, if you have full mana bars when you enter a boss fight, you might blow through it simply by spamming magic attacks. Each weapon has its own mana bar meaning you can run out with one weapon, then use magic from the other. Even if you run out of mana, the swords are still useable to kill demons the old fashioned way. To restore mana, you must absorb magic souls that demons drop as they die. They also drop ordinary souls, which you can use to upgrade your magic and blades.
The way progression works in Onimusha: Warlords is similar to an old school Resident Evil title. You have locked doors that either needs a key to open, or you need a certain magic level to open them. You use the souls you find to upgrade your swords and your magic separately. For example, you can have the lightning sword at level two, but the magic of that blade is only level one. If your magic level isn’t high enough, you may be forced to grind some enemies to level up. However, I personally didn’t run into this issue. Enemies are frequent enough that if you burn them down as they come along, you will have enough levels to beat the game without much grinding. The game is only about four to six hours long, so a little grinding won’t hurt.
I mentioned above that you could miss your sub-weapons if you aren’t exploring enough. Throughout the game, you will run into two types of puzzle treasure chests that you can open. If you manage to open them all, you will be armed with extra weapons, items, medicine, and armor. You are encouraged to explore the map, and are often rewarded in some way or another for doing so. Even if you choose to take the main path, you will run into some puzzles you have to solve. These are old school puzzles from the PlayStation 2 days, so be ready for a challenge.
There are times you are forced to play as Kaede, a ninja who comes to the castle with Samanosuke. She is a lot weaker then Samanosuke, but she makes up with that through her speed and her jump attacks. She can’t absorb souls, so you are just killing to survive. Playing as her will be hit and miss for some people, and can drag on. However, due to her speed, you can run from a lot more enemies and rush through her parts in a short 10 minutes. I didn’t mind playing her until I died once and got pushed back a half-hour.
Now we go into what doesn’t work very well in Onimusha: Warlords. The save system is rough, and you can lose progress quickly if you don’t save often. The dub is from the early PlayStation 2 days, so needless to say it is atrocious. In addition, the fixed camera angles are brutal in this game. You can and will be hit from something you cannot see because of how the camera is. Getting hit like that gets very annoying very quickly. Once or twice would be fine, but the archer demons do it a fair amount near the end.
Those who enjoyed the original release of Onimusha: Warlords way back when will enjoy their time with this remaster. Even if you’re a newcomer to the series, fans of action RPGs will appreciate its design.