Capcom’s demon-slaying samurai adventure Onimusha Warlords was first released for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. With a fresh coat of paint in this HD remaster for modern consoles, does the classic action experience stand up to the test of time?
Playing as skilled samurai warrior Samanosuke, you must navigate an eerie Japanese feudal castle to save Princess Yuki from being sacrificed to a clan of bloodthirsty demons. Along the way you’ll harness the power of the Oni gauntlet, which lets you absorb the souls of defeated enemies and use them to upgrade your weapons.
The skill-based combat system is still viscerally satisfying, 18 years after it was first introduced. Players will gather three elemental swords that each play slightly differently, so you’ll need to pick the best swordplay style for any given situation.
Savvy players will also need to master the ‘issen’ technique of slashing at the exact moment the enemy is about to strike, which will do a massive amount of damage. Mindless button-mashing will only lead to a quick death in Onimusha. Think of it as a Dark Souls level of difficulty, before there was Dark Souls.
While the combat holds up very well, the game’s visuals are slightly dated when compared to modern titles. Though the character models have been refreshed, the pre-rendered backgrounds are really starting to show their age and look quite fuzzy. However the creepy soundtrack and tension-filled pacing really sell the atmosphere of the game, and you’ll probably jump in fright at least a couple of times in your first play through.
Another thing for potential buyers to note is that the game is quite short by today’s standards. A typical play through will take roughly five hours, and even the Dark Realm and Oni Spirits mini-games won’t add much replay value. Overall, Onimusha Warlords is a short, sweet and scary trip down memory lane for PlayStation 2 fans, and a good introduction to the series for newcomers as well. Hopefully this means Capcom will revisit the popular franchise and come up with a true sequel soon.
Disclaimer: This review was written with a review copy provided by Capcom Asia.