What is best in life? To crush your enemies and see them driven before you!
When life gets rough and the stress kicks into high gear, there is no better remedy than video games, and there is no better genre than a musou. The never-ending onslaught of enemies to destroy brings down the blood pressure, and wave after wave of baddies brings peace to the soul. If you haven’t used a musou as a stress-reliever, you’re missing out and should try it sometime – and what better game to practice with than Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada?
Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada, developed by Omega Force and published by Koei Tecmo, is part of the Samurai Warriors series as a spin-off of Samurai Warriors 4. Samurai Warriors itself is a spin-off of the Dynasty Warriors series, so there’s a lot of spin-off-ception going on with this title. Nevertheless, the name itself should prove that the quality is there, and even playing it for five minutes proves that the long-running series did not disappoint.
The story revolves around the real-life Sanada clan who are led by Masayuki and his sons, Nobuyuki and Yukimura during the Sengoku period. The game spans about 48 years, from 1567 to 1615, and follows the main characters throughout this time as the Sanada clan rises through the ranks to become the high ranking lords of Japan. As the years go by, the characters age – some from childhood to aged warriors. And again, while the game certainly takes some liberties with certain aspects, the main characters are based off real history, which is a really neat facet of the Samurai Warriors series. Returning characters include Ieyasu Tokugawa, Gracia, and, of course, Nobunaga Oda.
If you’re already a fan of the Samurai Warriors series, you’ll notice right away that the Spirit of Sanada uses the Samurai Warriors 4 engine, play style, and features; however, there are plenty of new features added. One notable addition to the game is the “Next Move” feature, which is a mechanic that allows the player to do a special move at critical moments in the battle, such as build a bridge or call for reinforcements. These moves cost Sanada coins, which can be collected in the new Castle Town format or throughout special parts of the game.
Other new features include a similar setup to Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends where the gameplay is chosen in a Castle Town format and not a separate menu, meaning that players retain control of their character between campaigns. This makes for a lot of side missions, like raising morale or earning Sanada Coins. The player can also purchase horses, explore the outskirts of the town to fight enemies, accept missions, speak with NPCs (and learn about who they are in a historical context), go fishing, and make friends with other officers. There is also a 3D map that allows players to look at historical battles in detail from different angles.
Like all Samurai Warriors games, Spirit of Sanada has a very in-depth storyline that is sometimes difficult to follow. There are a lot of names that might be difficult to memorize and their backstory is sometimes several pages long. If players desire, they don’t actually have to follow along on any of the storyline to get the full enjoyment of the musou experience, as they can just beat back baddies to their heart’s content.
Like all other Samurai Warriors, Spirit of Sanada features excellent music, seamless controls, and wonderfully stylized graphics. The costume design of the characters is as fun and fierce as ever, and each character has something interesting that makes you want to focus on them instead of the blander bad guys. Fans of the series will really appreciate the freedom to control their characters and the “Next Move” mechanic is a fun plot device that moves a battle forward.
If I had one complaint with the game, it’s that dialogue isn’t moved forward with true cut scenes. The characters speak face to face like some sort of visual novel, and for this price point, I would have liked to see more cinematic cut scene action. While this isn’t a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination (and again, it’s like pretty much every other Samurai Warriors), it does make the game feel like it’s a bit cheaper than what it’s being sold for. Perhaps in future iterations we’ll see more work into some cinematic shots? Only time will tell.
Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada has taken some fantastic elements of other games in the series and made a great little musou out of a really interesting part of Japanese history. The fact that it’s a spin-off-ception may or may not hurt its perceived value in fans’ eyes and it did recycle a lot of mechanics and gameplay, but that’s to be expected from a series with a long and storied lifetime. On its own, it’s a solid game and a great way to blow off stress. And that’s all that really matters, right? Right.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), PC; Publisher: Koei Tecmo; Developer: Omega Force; Players: 1; Released: May 23, 2017; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: $49.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PS4 review copy of Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher