Game: Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada
Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), Ps3, PlayStation Vita, PC
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Omega Force
Wading through all the chronicles of each Japanese clan in the Samurai Warriors series can be tiring. Cutting a swath through lowly foot soldiers and upper tier generals has its fun moments, but committing to that act with so many historical figures can be a daunting task. Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada goes for a different approach this time around. You’ll still embroil in massive warfare during the Sengoku Period of Japan, but your adventuring will be done through the growing efforts of the Sanada Clan. While this more focused look into the Sanada Clan’s strategic maneuvering through feudal Japan changes up the formula in some areas, it still retains some of the problems that Omega Force’s games continue to be hampered by.
Before you step out into the world to carry out your carefully tuned strategies, you’ll get the opportunity to run around town. This process feels a lot more involved over the heavy menu operations of past games in the series. Getting the chance to mingle with famous warriors and members of the Sanada family tree line provides some of the game’s more interesting moments. The plot moves along at a nice pace and it gives you more context to the major decisions the Sanada Clan’s highest ranking members made in order to usurp power from their rivals. The story beats are so much more interesting with this type of structure, which makes me optimistic for the possibility of this style of play being applied to Samurai Warriors’ other clans. There’s so much to do while you’re running around town – gifting your allies, upgrading your characters, acquiring new weapons, farming, fishing etc. Not only are most of these activities fun, they also help you obtain helpful information for future tasks and coins that unlock battle bonuses.
Moving out onto the map and its various town/battlefield points feels a lot different, too. Instead of playing stage after stage of mindless soldier bashing, you’ll venture into areas and carry out some pre-planning. Preparing for war by getting a full scope of the area, collecting useful items and picking off stragglers is a part of the long-term battle system. The game’s clan wars are spread out amongst several stages, which does a great job of breaking up the action and shortening the run time for most of them. Besides all the hacking and slashing you’ll be engaging in, the battles at hand can change at the drop of a dime thanks to the implementation of Stratagems. These strategies always freshen up the action at hand by giving you a bigger advantage and increasing the morale of your army. Pulling off feats also does a good job of pushing you to take on sending your body count into the hundreds and completing other unbelievable tasks. And finally, the day/night cycle keeps players from mindlessly cutting down enemies and makes them more aware of the changes that come with the time of day/night.
While a lot of this games elements change up the flow of action, some longtime issues of the series are here and they just can’t be ignored. For one thing, the graphics don’t reflect the same growth of its finer gameplay mechanics. This game wouldn’t look out of place on last-gen consoles, which is a disappointment. Omega Force’s beat ’em ups should look a lot better after all these incarnations by now. Secondly, the action does devolve into that feeling of repetition that’s been a negative staple of the Musou genre. Clearing out a battlefield full of soldiers starts out fun as always, but it loses it luster the more you do it. And lastly, the difficulty presented to beginners and veterans isn’t much of a challenge. Feeling overpowered in a game such as this one is cool and all, but it would be nice to run into someone who rivals your powerful stature. After upgrading your warriors to higher levels, no one is truly capable of stopping you. Conquering Japan shouldn’t be this easy.
Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada goes out of its way to break the formula presented in past games in the series. The Sanada Clan’s journey to greatness is an engaging tale worth following from all angles. Doing so means you’ll get to speak with many historical figures and gain more insight into the Sengoku Period of Japan, which is a commendable change of pace. The Castle Town duties you’ll carry out offers amusing side activities to engage in and makes the story unfold more naturally. The battles themselves can still be repetitive and a bit too easy, but they can still be lively at time due to the implementation of Stratagems and Feats. The graphics don’t look too impressive, which is an issue that these games should focus on fixing for future installments. This side story is solid, but some glaring issues keep it from widening its fanbase to new fans.
- Focusing on a single clan makes the story a bit more interesting
- Battles are slightly more fun thanks to the day/night cycle and Stratagems
- Exploring your Castle Town and performing various tasks breaks up the action
- The battles still devolve into a repetitious, button mashing experience
- There’s really no challenge to speak of here
- The graphics are pretty flat