REVIEW – Capcom has indeed gone full-on into this re-releasing/remastering trend. Onimusha: Warlords is also part of it – the PS2 game which originally saw daylight in 2001 now got on the three current-gen platforms (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch) next to the PC.
If the game somewhat reminds you of the original style of Resident Evil, you’re not wrong. The project, which was initially called Sengoku Biohazard (set in the Sengoku era of Japan), was set to launch on N64DD, then it was moved to the PS1, and finally, the PS2, leaving the Resident Evil name behind as an action-packed hack’n’slash which is still somewhat decent nowadays.
The Sengoku-era (which ran from roughly 1467 to 1600) was a turbulent time for Japan. In the country, multiple tribes tried to unite Japan, but only Tokugawa Ieyasu managed to pull it off – with his leadership, Japan saw the beginning of a new era (Edo), which also locked the country off from foreigners, too. Back to the Sengoku-era – the first Onimusha game has Samanosuke Akechi as our character to defeat Nobunaga Oda and his army of demons. Nobunaga is another warlord who is also credited as one of the forefathers of a unified Japan – this is why we can call this game SOMEWHAT historical, albeit in a creative train of thought. (If you want something more down to the ground, I’d mention Ryu Ga Gotoku Ishin!, which is a Japan-exclusive PS3/PS4 Yakuza spin-off game set in the Meiji Restoration in the second half of the 1860s – it ended the Tokugawa clan’s rule in Japan.) We also have the usual damsel-in-distress character in the shape of princess Yuki to save. The story isn’t significant. It’s mostly just a tool to be an excuse to kill a ton of enemies.
The gameplay is faster than during the PS2 original, as the re-release allows you to swap out to one of your three weapons on the fly. All of them are powered by demonic souls with their respective skills, but I think they are also limited to just two combos. The controls got a make-over, thankfully – you don’t have to use the D-Pad to control Akechi anymore, as the analogue sticks will do the trick. It’s an excellent idea.
However, I cannot ignore how much the game has become outdated. The fixed camera angles aren’t stylish anymore (and now I have to mention another Capcom game, Resident Evil 2’s remake, which left them behind!), so if you are someone who hasn’t played in the PS2 era, you might find them weird (and especially annoying during combat, when you knock the enemy off the screen…), not to mention the pre-rendered backgrounds, which are also not used widely in 2019. The graphics are almost ugly, despite the wow, higher resolution, and wow, the 16:9 aspect ratio, which doesn’t seem to fit the backgrounds. You might say it’s stupid, but I think you’re better off playing on 4:3…
I have to mention briefly the Nintendo Switch version. The game was ported over nicely, so there was no need to dumb down the settings from the PS4/X1/PC version. A portable hack’n’slash game – hey Capcom, how about porting over the DMC trilogy, too? The HD Rumble felt abused with the Joy-Cons. I believe the game was shaking them far too much!
The gameplay is mostly fine (it gets tiresome after a while, though), the graphics are eh, passable, but with the soundtrack, I appreciated that it got remade. It increases the ambience, as it’s not a dumb idea to touch upon the audio 17 years after the original release (the PS4 and Switch versions came out in December, mind you!), maybe with the exception of the voice acting. The result is something that I don’t like (why can’t Capcom make a new game?), but I do admit that Onimusha: Warlords is still good after several console generations. It should have received a complete overhaul like Resident Evil 2. I recommend it if you spent a few hours with the DMC HD Trilogy. It is a somewhat outdated experience, but its ambience is awesome… for a whole afternoon. 🙁
(…who is our partner during the game.) Onimusha: Warlords deserve a kind-hearted seven out of ten. You can have fun with it, but the re-release should have deserved more care. The soundtrack, the analogue support, and the quick weapon change doesn’t make it outstanding, though. Its age is felt, and since Capcom only made it just to cash in on it (like with the other re-releases and collections…) instead of making a new game, I’m saying you should vote with your wallets. Get it under twenty dollars, unless you are a hardcore Devil May Cry-fan. Oh, did I say that the game is four hours long?
+ Updated soundtrack
+ Quick weapon-swapping, refined controls
– Outdated, and it is felt in multiple aspects (graphics, gameplay, story…)
– Fixed camera angles – they will be annoying in combat
Genre: Japanese historical hack’n’slash
Release date: January 15, 2019