I’ve been a fan and participant of Musou video games (or “Warriors games,” if you happen to’re a dubs as a substitute of subs particular person) since they had been brand-spanking new — 20 years at this level. I’ve been with them from 2000’s Dynasty Warriors 2, the very first, proper thus far. After per week and a half with Samurai Warriors 5, I’ve a confession to make:
I don’t know methods to speak to individuals about Musou video games anymore.
When Polygon approached me about scripting this piece, the unique thought was that I’d be writing a evaluate of Samurai Warriors 5, from a Musou lifer’s perspective. So, as I performed it, that’s the mindset I used to be in: Looking at gameplay, graphics, presentation parts, the way it “felt.” I may positively write that story if I wished to. The sport seems to be nice; the cel-shaded, woodblock print-style artwork is colourful and pops. The fluid fight will likely be acquainted to gamers of Samurai Warriors 4, which it builds on and refines. The story’s concentrate on the Nobunaga/Mitsuhide dyad has robust, trope-y Naruto/Sasuke vibes, however the result’s a superbly serviceable shounen manga-ish narrative.
There you go! Review over. Thanks for coming to my TED speak.
None of that tells you something significant concerning the expertise of enjoying the sport, although. How can I correctly convey to people who, regardless of listening to myself go full-on Mermista_uuuugh.wav in frustration quite a few occasions in my many, many hours with SW5, that I nonetheless totally loved it?
I’m keen accountable the style on this one. A Musou sport subseries (corresponding to Samurai Warriors, Dynasty Warriors, Warriors Orochi, and so forth) has rather a lot in frequent with the Final Fantasy mainline video games; they’re gameplay iterations wrapped round a typical narrative core. Unlike Final Fantasy, although, most Musou sequels are fairly just like those earlier than them. Specific subsystems might differ, however the core factor you do is just about the identical each time: you beat the hell out of a bunch of faceless mooks, with the occasional sprint of “duel a famous officer” or “run across the damn map like a person on fire to reach an objective, which is probably more mook murder.”
Thus, as you’d count on, there’s little or no that’s solely new in SW5. Its fight is essentially constructed on the core of its fast predecessor, with new parts like Ultimate Skills being acquainted to gamers of licensed Musou video games like Dragon Quest Heroes or Persona 5 Strikers. Most of the adjustments are aesthetic: The new artwork and visible type, re-designs of longtime characters, the narrowing of the sport’s focus to the rise and fall of Nobunaga Oda. In a style the place the narrative is essentially excessive gloss, hyperkinetic set dressing, this won’t be sufficient for gamers anticipating a completely new expertise.
Yet for me, the archetypal Musou repeat offender, there was one thing fascinating concerning the adjustments the designers determined to make. Just a few of those shifts are excessive; in earlier SW video games, Yoshimoto Imagawa is introduced as a powder-faced, squeaky-voiced weirdo obsessive about an antiquated Japanese soccer analogue, a joke equal to DW’s prissy Yuan Shao. In SW5, he’s a towering brute of a man, a extreme and boastful hegemon who nonetheless is the primary stepping stone on Nobunaga’s path to greatness. Nobunaga’s spouse Nō-hime provides up her sultry, murderous vamp persona in earlier SWs to turn into a laconic spouse compelled right into a loveless marriage who finally comes to like her husband. Not all of those adjustments land — Ieyasu Tokugawa’s transformation from hefty older statesman to tiny bishounen twink is baffling — however for longtime sequence followers, they and the handful of recent characters create sufficient friction with earlier variations to generate curiosity.
A dutiful consumer-journalist would level out a number of the sport’s extra obtrusive flaws: a vertigo-inducing lock-on digicam that has forgotten what “collision” is, for instance. The lack of an English voice monitor in a sport that defines “visual clutter” however expects you to learn prolonged on-screen narrative textual content on a routine foundation. The discount of the earlier sport’s 45-plus particular person movesets into 15 shared weapons, a chestnut that already has some longtime Musou folks up in arms.
But then I take into consideration the uncooked textual content file open on my desktop as I write this, crammed with notes on the intricacies of the totally different weapons and the way they work. It reads like a conspiracy cork board in various methods. An instance: “talisman c3 shikigami — child? priest? what kind of origami looks vaguely person-ish but would shoot fireballs?” The morning I wrote this, I spent half an hour puzzling out how the altering of ammunition works for the Cannon, and felt the heady pleasure of understanding once I found out the distinction between buckshot, bullet mines, and explosive shells, a distinction the sport barely explains.
So I’m left right here with a story of a sport that might be deeply irritating and is nearly definitely a future repetitive movement damage ready to occur, but in addition one which, despite all that, captured my consideration and pulled me into approach, approach, approach extra hours of gameplay than the quantity required to put in writing this text (49 hours, as of this writing).
As I sat down to put in writing, I stored asking myself: how can I correctly reply the hypothetical reader who asks the dreaded query: “Will I enjoy this?” If I come at it solely as a client evaluate, what you get is a really staid and lifeless end result that claims nothing concerning the precise expertise of what enjoying SW5 was like for me. “The graphics on level 3 seem appropriately tightened, five out of five” does nothing to drive dwelling the significance of that hour of experimenting with a weapon’s vaguely defined properties, not as a result of I wanted that mechanical data to win, however as a result of realizing it felt cool.
Yet on the identical time, a few of that nuts and bolts stuff I discussed earlier is basically crucial so that you can know. That moveset factor, the dearth of English performing … these will likely be make-or-break information for long-time Musou gamers. And all of that is earlier than any type of pushback I’d be making concerning the style’s infamous (and never solely undeserved) popularity for senseless button-mashing. Yeah, the sport was compelling to me, however I’ve additionally sunk twenty years of my life into Musou video games. Would somebody with out that context get any helpful info out of me describing my gleeful cackling when Mitsuki high-fives a shadow clone of herself on the finish of one in all her assaults? Probably not.
Thus … I don’t know methods to speak to individuals about Musou video games anymore. So right here, you get somewhat little bit of each: a contact of the dry system overview and a touch of stuff that made me go “… dude!” aloud whereas enjoying.
In the top, probably the most I can say is that this: Yeah, over per week and alter, I spent numerous time in Warring States-era Japan making a sequence of emphatic Mermista “UUUUUUGH”s, however possibly that occurred as a result of when one thing exhibits occasional touches of craft and brilliance, your want to sand off the final of its tough edges is all of the stronger.
Samurai Warriors 5 will likely be launched July 27 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC. The sport was reviewed on PlayStation 4 utilizing a pre-release obtain code supplied by Koei Tecmo. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media might earn commissions for merchandise bought through affiliate hyperlinks. You can discover further details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.