If it hasn’t been made clear as of late that Japanese Samurai-themed titles are becoming a trend in the gaming community, then perhaps Onimusha: Warlords should be a strong indicator of things to come. During the early periods of the PlayStation 2 days, Samurai video games were quite scarce, but Capcom decided to release Onimusha: Warlords to the world and blew our minds completely. That was back in 2001, when much of the gaming world was still evolving and ideas were still trickling down the pipeline. Fast forward to 2019 and the beloved classic tale of Samanosuke Akechi and ninja Kaede on a quest to save Princess Yuki still feels quite the same, but with a more striking visual impact. If you loved the original and just simply enjoy the Onimusha franchise in general, then definitely continue reading!
What to Expect
While much of the game is unchanged from its original PlayStation 2 brethren, Onimusha: Warlords still provides a compelling story, riveting gameplay, and delivers a remarkable challenge that still proves rewarding by today’s standards. It’s by no means a perfect game, considering that much of the title is still running off of the dated PS2 mechanics, but one defining factor that made the series what it is stems from the use of the Resident Evil engine. It takes the ingenuity of the RE franchise and throws you into a feudal Samurai world, where demons have invaded and it’s up to you to put an end to it all. It indeed feels like you’re playing Resident Evil but it performs much like a true Samurai experience, and that’s what makes Onimusha: Warlords a classic masterpiece in our eyes. If you’re looking for something new, expect other things like HD graphics, the option for widescreen, analog stick support, an Easy Mode option, a brand new soundtrack, and a new ‘honor’ in-game achievement system.
As mentioned earlier, Onimusha: Warlords is essentially a direct port of the original PlayStation 2 classic, albeit a few visual upgrades to ensure the game looks more up-to-par with the current time. We’re certainly enamored by the fact we get to relive our childhood memories of the title, but we definitely would’ve loved if Capcom simply just recreated the series and give it a more realistic feel. That isn’t to say Onimusha: Warlords doesn’t look realistic but let’s be quite honest, this title released 18 years ago and our perspective on what looked “real” back then totally differs from the current climate in the gaming world. Although the gameplay is certainly fun we honestly have to say that we wish visually, the game looked better. The HD option helped a little bit, but not substantially to the point where the game looked any different than the original.
Even if things didn’t really impress us in the visual department, the soundtrack for the game is on the other end of the scale. One area that Onimusha: Warlords did incredibly well in was the sound department, not just in the sound effects and music but more so in the voice acting. For a game about a young Samurai’s love and ambition, you’d expect the voice acting to compliment those emotions in a riveting way, and Capcom certainly delivered. While we do tend to favor the Japanese dub more than the English one, both offered a significant benefit in that you were really able to capture the essence of what was happening throughout the game. Yes, admittedly there were some corny English lines that didn’t really coincide with the more alluring Japanese dub, but it still managed to give us a feeling of connectedness with the characters throughout the game. Plus, the new soundtrack that came as part of the package is truly great, which only helps to better emphasize just how well put together Onimusha: Warlords is.
We already stated that Onimusha: Warlords took its gameplay mechanics from the popular Resident Evil franchise, opting for the over-the-shoulder third-person view. This helped the game in a lot of ways because it allowed for the game to create a very compelling perspective on the action happening around you. This being an action game taking place in a feudal Samurai period, having those cinematic angles really helped to bring out the gameplay in a positive way and not rob you of the experience. There were of course moments where the camera movement would simply not cooperate with us, which ultimately led to some unfortunate and silly deaths, but generally the game performed well enough that it remained enjoyable.
The only gripe we experienced was the classic ‘RE camera syndrome’ where you’d be running in one direction, and because the camera shifts to another angle so too do your controls. So if you’re running to the left and the camera suddenly pans to the opposite direction, you now have to hold right on the analog to run in the same direction. That’s the good old PlayStation 2 mechanics kicking in but once again, it didn’t tarnish the game in any significant way. Perhaps for us, since we grew up in that era and became accustomed to it, that it wasn’t much of a bother. We can totally see however, the newer generation of gamers who play this and run into this issue and think it’s some sort of travesty, not realizing that this was how things were back in the early 2000’s.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Onimusha: Warlords honestly just felt the same and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s not great either. As we mentioned before, it would’ve been great if Capcom had reopened the Onimusha vault and recreated the IP in a unique way, much like they did with the more recent RE2 remake. This would have helped them to compete with the other now popular Samurai-themed titles such as Nioh, or upcoming titles like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Ghosts of Tsushima. We don’t know why they decided to opt for just a simple port (possibly financial reasons, or maybe just nostalgia points), but perhaps it could be to see just how well the game sells and hopefully if fans enjoy it, there may be something down the pipeline.
Either way, we definitely had our fun with the game both in 2001 and now, and with the game looking a little bit better due to the HD upgrades, Onimusha: Warlords is still a classic Samurai tale worth playing.
A “new” Onimusha title on the market is always a plus in our books.
The same wonderful, compelling story that made the franchise what it is.
The new soundtrack helps to breathe new life into the sound, music category. Plus good voicing.
Easy Mode is a great addition for newcomers to the series.
Well, it’s the same old game from 2001 so nothing much else to say there.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Shoutouts to the team at Capcom for allowing us to review Onimusha: Warlords for you all, and we hope that this review provided all of the information you needed to make your purchase decision easier. It’s by no means a perfect game but it certainly delivers in other areas that we hope you’ll enjoy. Be sure to follow us on social media where you’ll be able to stay up to date on all the game releases and of course, share our reviews with your friends! Hit us up on Twitch as well where you’ll be able to catch us live, playing our favorite titles for everyone!
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!