Our Rating: 7/10
Samurai Warriors 5 returns to the history of the first Samurai Warriors, released in 2004. The game begins with the story of Nobunaga Oda during the nin War in which Mitsuhide Akechi makes his final attack on the clan leader Nobunaga.
That is a fantastic hit of the fifth game in and of itself. We can revisit the game’s history from the PlayStation 2 from a completely different perspective because it’s not a remake or anything like that. The characters have been completely redesigned, with new playable characters and modernized mechanics.
The Nobunaga Clan Chronicles
The game follows Nobunaga Oda, the famous and almost legendary samurai, from his youth to his historical significance. The historical context of Nobunaga’s relations with other clans, on the other hand, is important. His journey towards Japan’s unification, as well as the historical figures he encounters, is depicted in a style reminiscent of shonnen anime. This is already excellent in and of itself.
However, the story suffers from the same flaws that have plagued the franchise for years. A narrator who presents the context of territorial movements and their leaders and a large number of monotonous dialogues with little animation.
Unfortunately, like its predecessors, Samurai Warriors 5 insists on sticking to some irritating patterns. It’s fantastic that the game is completely dubbed in Japanese. Especially since it’s a game that pays homage to Japanese history, aesthetics, and culture in general.
However, we’re discussing a game release in the United States. While listening to Japanese audios is nice, having subtitles only in English is a big deal for the majority of the audience, who don’t care about the game’s story or context. That’s a shame because the setting is one of Japan’s most spectacular.
As previously stated, Samurai Warriors 5 is a game with a very repetitive story that places a greater emphasis on gameplay. But it’s not as if he doesn’t care about the tale he’s telling. Quite the contrary! Among the game’s dozens of missions, there are hours and hours of real stories to hear. Of course, for those who have the self-control not to skip the dialogues.
However, the story is told in a non-immersive manner, and the narrative is drawn out. The (extremely rare) cinematographic scenes, in which we see the characters with more expression and movement, demonstrating their various personalities and functions, are the exception.
However, regardless of the game’s narrative or setting, we’re talking about a musou. So, combats will always be the most important aspect. For those unfamiliar, the musou genre is a hack and slash subgenre. Most known for fast combat against multiple enemies at once. At the museum, we place a greater emphasis on militarized combat, with superhuman fighters battling colossal hordes in battles involving hundreds of enemies.
Dynasty Warriors popularized the genre, and Netflix recently released a film based on the same name. But, in the world of musou, Samurai Warriors is just as relevant as its predecessor. It has incredible combat, full of stylish choreographies and blows that hit dozens of enemies at once in a single move.
These matches were updated in Samurai Warriors 5. It demonstrated that Omega Force and Koei Tecmo aren’t ignoring other recent works in the genre. The return of the horses from Samurai Warriors 4 is one of the most notable examples within the franchise. However, it still lacks many combos and movement options.
Samurai Warriors 5 also brings back a new combat mechanic from One Piece Pirate Warriors 4; the ability to equip up to four different abilities on our characters in addition to their basic abilities. This greatly expands the combo options while also ensuring more organic fluidity in combat movement.
The most fluid gameplay in the franchise
The fluidity with which Samurai Warriors 5 works its gameplay and combats is one of the game’s most positive features. Of course, you won’t be able to experience the game’s maximum fluidity on every platform; it’ll most likely be limited to the Playstation 5, Xbox One X, and PC. It is worth noting, however, that participating in battles against thousands of opponents at frame rates far exceeding the standard 30fps is extremely satisfying.
Naturally, there is a price to pay: the game’s appearance. The quality of maps and scenarios, which are not as complex and interesting as other games today, is more important than the visuals themselves. This is primarily due to the absurdly high number of opponents on screen at any given time. It is necessary to save a little money in other areas to sustain such megalomania.
The result is fluid gameplay with no framerate drops. It has organically fitting combos and abilities, and a flurry of opponents, explosions, colors, and light effects. Musou was never a game genre where you could relax and enjoy the scenery; instead, you could revel in the fluidity and scale of combat. And, well, Samurai Warriors 5 nails it on all fronts.
Amazing look, even if not so current
The developers of Samurai Warriors 5 found a fantastic middle ground to achieve the above-mentioned fluidity of combat without sacrificing the game’s graphical aspects. Of course, as previously stated, the game’s visuals aren’t as impressive as many other games released in 2020 or 2021. However, that doesn’t mean it’s unattractive.
This is because the franchise’s fifth installment is far more “artistic” than its predecessors. The art direction chose a more stylized, less realistic approach, which gave the game a new lease on life. Furthermore, the textures and movements are much less “heavy”. This results in excellent frame rates without sacrificing the game’s visual appeal.
As a result, the characters, as well as the lighting and combat movements, are a riot of color. But the new menu arts and special moves in the game, which follow a pattern similar to Japanese paintings, with well-defined and agile strokes and vibrant colors, are the game’s greatest asset, in our opinion. We still have a “heroic pose” for each character at the end of their most powerful ability. Ultimately ensuring visually stunning screens that complement the game perfectly.
Multiple options for the same game
New game modes addition to Samurai Warriors 5 to increase the game’s variety and replay value. This aspect is frequently criticized in almost every muse game. They are incredibly repetitive, even when there is a large number of characters to choose from.
As a result, the Musou and Citadel modes are available in the franchise’s fifth installment. We have the traditional “Story Mode” in Musou mode, with the complete saga of Nobunaga Oda during the Sengoku Era. This comes with several different maps to play, relatively short chapters of the story, but with several perspectives to revisit.
Next, we have the My Castle mechanic. It allows us to manage our “fief’s” resources, such as training characters in the Dojo, improving or crafting new weapons in Blacksmith, purchasing accessories, gems, and materials in the Shop, and managing our mounts’ skills and levels in Stable. Aside from that, there’s the March option. This allows you to play the story missions in both campaign and Free Battle mode.
The biggest news, however, is the Citadel mode, which gives us access to My Castle but replaces campaign missions with battles in which we must defend our feuds against invaders. Optional missions will appear during these battles, and the higher our combos, executions, and optional missions are completed in less time, the higher our score at the end of the fight.
This score grants us access to new items and more powerful loot, as well as strengthening our characters’ bonds. This friendship serves to release unique abilities along with two specific characters. Each with fantastic animations — which you can see in the Hermit’s Retreat option.
Despite the game’s greater variety of tasks, Samurai Warriors 5 still suffers from repetitive gameplay. The new resource management mechanics are excellent additions, but they do not significantly alter the game’s pace.
The development of each character
Fortunately, this resource management can sometimes serve as a guideline for the repetitive game itself, even if it doesn’t add variety to the game. Samurai Warriors 5 has nearly 40 different characters, all of whom have very different moves and abilities, even though they sometimes use the same weapons.
This could be the genre’s only hope for overcoming its lack of diversity. Managing each character’s mastery, organizing their skill points, equipping them with the best equipment, and putting together the best combos are all activities that are unrelated to the story or the Citadel to be completed, and end up taking up a significant amount of time for the interested player.
If you don’t enjoy character development that involves switching between dozens of characters, this feature will do nothing to alleviate Samurai Warriors 5’s inherent repetitiveness.
But, above and beyond all of these details, it’s worth noting that, like the visuals, the gameplay aspects of the franchise’s flagship series’ fifth installment represent a welcome improvement over its predecessor from seven years ago. Even if there are a few hiccups.
Samurai Warriors 5 isn’t a flawless or groundbreaking title. Indeed, it is a very “beans and rice” title within the musou genre, bringing good characters, sharp gameplay, and interesting features, but not necessarily adding anything new. However, there are times when “beans and rice” work particularly well, particularly when the “spice” is just right.
As a result, Samurai Warriors 5 solidifies, maintains, and secures the franchise. It doesn’t take many risks, and it doesn’t even address the genre’s long-standing issues, but it’s a polished, current, and enjoyable game that’s also a good choice for newcomers to the genre thanks to its fluid gameplay, stylish aesthetic, and well-rounded story. This could be a good choice for you if you enjoy Japanese culture and the frantic brawl of the musou genre!