2019 is a big year for Capcom, with two of its big titles coming out this month. While fans can look forward to the delightfully grim remake of Resident Evil 2, another blast from the past is making a return. Having been released in Japan back in January of 2001, Onimusha: Warlords is getting the remastering treatment. As one of the PlayStation 2’s most popular titles, Onimusha is going to be a nostalgic experience, while also allowing new players who missed out on the game to discover an excellent gem.
In preparation for our upcoming review of Onimusha: Warlords, let’s take a look at what makes this game a brilliant title in the PlayStation family.
Samurai Honor And An Epic Land
Aesthetically speaking, with the exception of Nioh, as well as Ghost of Tsushima arriving in the near future, samurais haven’t gotten enough love in some time. Funny enough, Onimusha’s development began with designer Yoshiki Okamoto originally thinking to do a “ninja version” of Resident Evil. For environmental and narrative flavor, Onimusha is set in the Sengoku period, a time in Japanese history riddled with military conflict. This warring era makes for a terrific backdrop to our main character’s quest
As the player, you take control of Samanosuke Akechi, a noble warrior skilled in combat. One day, Samanosuke receives a letter from Princess Yuki, asking him to save her from the threat of demons. Upon arriving to find her, Samanosuke sees that the demons have already captured her; it isn’t long until he discovers that Princess Yuki is part of a diabolical plan that attempts to destroy her clan. From there, Samanosuke and Kaede (another ninja the player can control), embark on a journey to save Princess Yuki and defeat the demons. The plot, even in its cheesier moments, makes for a thrilling experience full of gruesome creatures and drama.
Onimusha’s best qualities are its heavy action and aesthetic. In 2001, games were further embracing cinematic graphics, and Onimusha was one of the first prominent titles to have atmospheric hack and slash gameplay. Furthermore, the setting gives life to the plot, presenting a historically authentic (yet fantasy-heavy) vibe. Eventually, Samanosuke will venture into some spooky places; there are dungeons infested with demonic gunk and blood splattered across the floor, all while chilling music plays over the scene. These locales give off an unsettling energy and tension as Samanosuke has to cut his way through a plethora of creatures.
When it comes to gameplay, Onimusha takes much inspiration from that of Resident Evil; utilizing a fixed camera angle, as well as pre-rendered backgrounds, Onimusha balances puzzle solving and combat. Players can use both physical weapons and magic throughout the game. By roaming about the environment, opening chests, and defeating enemies, it’s possible to find new weapons and armor for Samanosuke. As the player progresses forward in the story, Samanosuke will also gain the ability to use elementally enchanted weapons (such as fire and lighting abilities). Boss fights are truly satisfying; each boss presents a cinematic intensity as you dodge their attacks and dive in to slash them. As Samanosuke you really feel like a badass warrior in these duels. The game contains many different enemy designs, making sure the player always has a variety of foes to encounter.
Thanks to the riveting action and stellar setting, Onimusha allows players to feel like they are part of an epic mission. You can feel the power in each swing of your sword; you feel the tension facing off against of the game’s big antagonists. Onimusha is an action experience that even after 18 years still exudes adrenaline.
With the PlayStation having been released in 2000, Onimusha would be one of the console’s first steps towards greatness. The PlayStation 2 has stood throughout time as one of the most significant gaming consoles in history, and that is thanks to games such as Onimusha.
Upon its release Onimusha: Warlords became a success, becoming the first PlayStation 2 title to sell over a million copies. Spawning several sequels and a couple of spin-off titles, Onimusha is a beloved series that, unfortunately, has not seen a new entry since 2006. While action games have evolved, Onimusha’s setting and well-designed combat feel timeless; years later, there’s still a sincere element of grandness in Samanosuke’s quest to defeat the demons and save the princess. With the remastering of Onimusha: Warlords, hopefully, this will get fans talking, inspiring Capcom to revisit this fantastic series.