Samurai Warriors 5, just like any Samurai Warriors or Dynasty Warriors title, is a musou game. In this genre, a single hero—well, actually you can control more characters, occasionally—faces a horde of enemies, slashing or gunning them while pushing through a maze-like map and pulling spectacular combos. If you're up for a challenge that's more satisfying than it's hard or even realistic, this is a game for you! Plus, Samurai Warriors 5 comes with a few new feats most fans of the franchise will enjoy.
What to Expect
If you're into Japanese history and famous names like Nobunaga Oda or Hanzo Hattori, you'll be pleased to play this historical fiction adventure. The gameplay may be repetitive, but that's not a problem, really. Samurai Warriors 5 offers you two game modes that complement each other and, at the same time, help you build your perfect warrior. It's not really an RPG, but you can improve your stats, skills, and weapon proficiency, craft deadlier weapons, and of course, beat your own records while doing so. And what can be more gratifying than watching your combo counter rise up to the sky?!
One of the things we love about Samurai Warriors is the art style, with Samurai Warriors 5 being no exception. As you can tell, it's a game based on nihonga (classic Japanese art), so you'll see a lot of references to famous pictorial styles from old Japan—and lots of brush strokes everywhere! That being said, it's still a modern game, with colorful 3D cutscenes and fantastic character design, for example. To be fair, Samurai Warriors 5 never tries to disguise its own flaws with eye-candy graphics, so don't expect perfect textures or incredibly detailed scenery.
Samurai Warriors 5's OST blends traditional Japanese music—or the sounds that we all associate with Japan, to be more accurate—with some powerful orchestral or even rock-influenced pieces, guitar riffs included. It's not that original, and most Japan-based games do it, yet it totally fits the spirit of Samurai Warriors, so we enjoy it regardless.
Complementing the music, there's the outstanding voice acting, bringing every character to life—and we're not just talking about cutscenes and intro movies. Sure, the script is not the best, and some dialogues sound more like a shounen anime than a serious war debate, but the interaction between the characters, even in the middle of a fierce fight, gives it all some extra points.
Samurai Warriors 5 is kind of a soft reboot to the series. It follows an original story, but it still focuses on some events we already experienced in the previous games. While there are over 25 characters to choose from, including several that were not playable before, the game's protagonist is Nobunaga Oda, with his ally Mitsuhide Akechi as a secondary path and several special scenarios offering other characters' points of view for more immersion.
Long story short, SW5 takes place in the Sengoku period of Japan, starting with the Ōnin War in 1467. With several political and war figures fighting for power, Nobunaga Oda's objective is to bring peace to the people... by annihilating those that pose a threat, of course. Expect a lot of drama, treason, and death!
All scenarios are basically the same: there's a maze-like map, and you need to go from point A to point B to finally take on your enemy. However, you need to fight literal hordes of soldiers before getting to your destination, sometimes even doing sidequests to open shortcuts or just earn extra points. You see, at the end of every round, you'll be awarded better weapons or more resources depending on how fast you completed your mission, how many enemies and mini-bosses you killed, how high was your best combo count, etc. Oh, but don't worry as you only need to mash the same 2 buttons over and over again (3 if you want to block incoming attacks, but you hardly need it if you can run or dodge).
Musou Mode is a narrative-driven campaign, whereas Citadel Mode is an arcade, kind of time-attack alternative where you need to score a certain amount of points before the time runs out. Playing one mode will unlock features in the other, so you're pretty much encouraged to complete both and upgrade your Castle Buildings. A high-level dojo allows you to improve your heroes' stats and unlock devastating special skills. A high-level blacksmith provides better crafting options for your weapons, for example. Combine those two, and you'll be pulling insane combos in no time!
The plot is quite predictable and generic, but the gameplay feels really good. Sadly, choosing Nō (aka Kichō) as our go-to secondary character—because, you know, we love a good love story based on slashing people—proved to be a bad decision once we hit a point where she was not even an option. With Lady Nō out, we picked Sena as our next waifu... and the next fight, both Sena and Nō were unavailable. Frustrated, we set our eyes on Mitsuki, the cheerful ninja, but it sucks to use an untrained character just because the story is forcing you to. For what it's worth, here's a word of advice: always go for a harem route!
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Honestly, it's really hard to keep up with the story or actually understand who are all these people and why they fight you... unless you really know your Japanese history. As for the gameplay, though, Samurai Warriors 5 is an amazing example of a formula that never gets old. Don't expect any revolutionary mechanics, but if you are a musou games fan looking for something fresh, this is it!
Beautiful Japanese art syle and flashy battles.
More playable characters, some new features, but overall the same musou experience you know and love.
Characters are not always available in Musou Mode, so you may end up wasting your valuable skill points on a unit you can't use.
Not the most efficient AI, but that's kinda the point?
Honey's Final Verdict:
If you love musou games, then you will be thrilled to play Samurai Warriors 5! Yeah, we would have loved to see some game-changing mechanics or innovative ideas, but you know the saying: better the devil you know...
Samurai Warriors 5 is already available on PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, with a demo version that's great for those unsure about the musou genre!
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...