Title: Onimusha: Warlords
Genre: 2D Action Adventure, Hack and Slash
Available On: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
Official Site: https://www.onimusha2001.com/
Release Date: January 15th, 2019
Where to Buy it: PSN, Microsoft Store, Nintendo E-shop, Steam
Capcom has been giving quite a lot of love to their back catalog in recent times. They’ve been releasing Resident Evil games on every console, we have Mega Man and of course, we are getting a completely remade version of Resident Evil 2 very shortly. Something I actually cannot wait for.
One IP they haven’t shown much love to is the Onimusha series. I’ve been waiting for ages for them to either make a new game or re-release one of the older ones. Finally, I need to wait no more. The first Onimusha game has now been released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and the Nintendo Switch. Rejoice gamers.
I’m going to get this out of the way now. Some of you will not agree with how I’ve scored this game. To save you skipping forward and missing the rest of the wonderful prose that I have written I shall tell you now. I’ve scored it a 4. A personal score for a game I played to death in my youth. For newcomers the score could easily be a 3 and more ardent fans may give it a 5. Either way, these aren’t bad scores and I would highly recommend everyone try it. I’m just glad it’s being made available to an entirely new generation. If you don’t enjoy it please feel free to send me an email of complaint and have a good moan. I’ll ignore them all but please don’t let that stop you.
Onimusha: Warlords came out for the PS2 in 2001. It was initially designed to be a Ninja Version of Resident Evil. Words that pretty much tell you everything you need to know. Pre-rendered backgrounds, tank controls, puzzles, and backtracking are all present and accounted for. Just replace the guns with swords and the zombies with demons. An interesting fact I’ve just discovered is that a bug in Onimusha which saw enemies being juggled in the air was what led to Devil May Cry, another game that had started as Resident Evil.
Onimusha in 2019 is a polished up version of the PS2 original. A remaster rather than a remake. Playing this today it’s obvious the game isn’t from this generation. I’d say that it looks more like a PS3 game, not PS2. Capcom has made things nicer and hasn’t been too lazy. Something they have been guilty of in the past. What I would say though is the character models seem to have had more work than the backgrounds and the two do seem at odds. The pre-rendered backgrounds feel to me a bit like an oil painting that the characters have been placed on top of. Much like a child playing with their action figures on top of a drawing.
The original (bad) voice acting is all here and accounted for as well. I for one love that in Capcom games. Terrible voice acting has long been a staple. The number of times I’ve rewatched scenes from the original Resident Evil may well be bordering on obsessive now, and I still smile every single time. The acting in Onimusha isn’t that bad but when you mix in the fact the characters lips either don’t move or have just been left in their Japanese state it feels like watching an old, badly dubbed, oriental film.
These are all things that may help put some people off. I’m able to look through them all with my nostalgia goggles. Especially as everything presented has been done much better than I had hoped and anticipated. Even the cutscenes have had some work, which is nice to see. Many remasters don’t even bother doing anything with the cutscenes, even leaving them in 4:3 picture format instead of 16:19. So bravo Capcom. The opening cutscene is pretty memorable too. I won’t say why.
Anyway, that’s enough about the looks. Onimusha stars the Samurai Samanosuke as he fights against the evil Nobunaga Oda and his demons, on a quest to rescue Princess Yuki. Whilst the influence of Resident Evil can be felt, Onimusha is still very much its own game and is a lot more action-packed. Players use swords in order to dispatch the hordes of demons that attack them. The combat is fun, hacking away at the enemies, with the occasional block, dodge and counter attack thrown in for good measure. It would have been nice if the game explained these functions instead of leaving them up to the player to find out. Something that isn’t ideal for newcomers. Defeated enemies will leave behind floating souls that can be sucked up by Samanosuke and have various benefits such as refilling health and magic.
Certain souls can be used to upgrade weapons to make them more powerful and gems can be found to increase the players’ health and magic bars. The different weapons have different elements attached to them. Getting swarmed by enemies can prove costly and lead to an early death, a problem when save points are at limited locations throughout the game. A quick press of triangle will use up some magic and will unleash a special move that will often prove invaluable.
Some doors in the game have colored blobs on them that are tied to the element of a particular weapon. The correct weapon must be equipped in order to enter. A colored orb in the inventory, tied to the weapons, act as the keys. They will need to be upgraded to unlock doors with more than one blob on them. This lead to some required soul farming, although this isn’t really a difficulty as often enemies will respawn when re-entering an area, even if sometimes the enemies are different.
Souls aren’t automatically gifted for killing enemies. They float around for a short while before disappearing forever. A button is needed to be held down to suck souls into our heroes arm. Trouble is, when doing so the playable character cannot move, block or attack, opening the player up to attack from the enemy. Pick your moment wisely.
The combat itself is great fun and the game controls nicely with a framerate that holds up well. The analog stick can now be used, giving three-dimensional movement and helping to make things more accessible for modern players. I much prefer the tank controls myself, I find them easier to dodge and prefer them when moving through the pre-rendered areas. It’s down to personal choice and thankfully both options are available.
Onimusha does have some issues. Mostly they are a product of its time and they don’t bother me but could annoy some. There is a fair amount of backtracking involved. Going back to unlock areas that were previously inaccessible, or going back to unlock a puzzle box. There are some boxes unlocked straight away through a number sorting puzzle, whilst others can only be unlocked once a code has been deciphered through the collecting of files (ahh Resi).
Traversing screens or getting used to the controls could be an issue for some, however, the biggest annoyance is the inability to skip cutscenes. This can become extremely tedious if a particular boss keeps causing a game over. Even more so if the save point is a ways away from the boss.
Trophy or achievement hunters will also have a tough time collecting them all. Not something that affects gameplay in any way, just something to note and at least they add a challenge.
I for one am extremely happy to have Onimusha back in my life. Warlords didn’t take me very long to finish, as it is a relatively short game. At least it’s being sold at a reduced price and not at $60. Hopefully, the game will sell well and show Capcom that we want the others to be released. Who knows, we may even get a new title one day. One can only hope.
Verdict: Onimusha: Warlords has been a long time coming. The re-release of the PS2 classic completely skipped over the spate of remasters on the last gen systems and it’s now been 18 years since the original release. The game holds up well and plays great in 2019, despite retaining classic gameplay elements that may put off some gamers.
- Fun Combat with a choice of controls, allowing new players to jump in
- Polished visuals and a good frame rate
- Finally the chance to replay this classic game on modern consoles
- Unskippable cutscenes
- Backtracking and old fashioned gameplay may put off some players, as could the bad voice acting
Steve is the resident Englishman, just don’t hold that against him. He’s been playing games for the best part of 3 decades and will continue to do so for as long as his thumbs hold up. When they no longer work, he’ll still find a way to play Resident Evil 2. Lover of most things nerdy Steve also likes sports. Go sports!