• July 26, 2021

Review: Koei Tecmo’s Samurai Warriors 5 is, well, something else from Musou

I’ve been a fan and gamer of Musou games (or “Warriors games”, if you’re a dubbing rather than subs person) since they were brand new, 20 years at the moment. I’ve been with them since the 2000s Warriors of Dynasty 2, the first, until now. After a week and a half with Samurai warriors 5, I have a confession to make:

I don’t know how to talk to people about Musou games anymore.

When Polygon approached me to write this article, the original idea was that I would be writing a review of Samurai Warriors 5, from the perspective of a lifetime Musou. So while playing it, that was the mindset I was in: looking at the game, the graphics, the presentation elements, how it “felt”. I could definitely write that story if I wanted to. The game looks great; the cell-shaded woodcut style art is colorful and eye-catching. The fluid combat will be familiar to gamers of Samurai Warriors 4, which builds and refines. The story’s focus on the Nobunaga / Mitsuhide dyad has strong Naruto / Sasuke vibes, but the result is a perfectly useful shounen manga-ish narrative.

There you go! Review. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Image: Koei Tecmo

However, none of that tells you anything meaningful about the experience of playing the game. How can I adequately convey to people that, despite listening to me Mermista_uuuugh.wav complete in frustration many times in my many, Many hours with SW5, that I still enjoyed it very much?

I’m willing to blame it on gender. A subseries of the game Musou (as Samurai warriors, Dynasty of warriors, Orochi warriors, and so on) has a lot in common with the mainline Final Fantasy games; they are game iterations wrapped in a common narrative core. However, unlike Final Fantasy, most of Musou’s sequels are quite similar to the previous ones. The specific subsystems may differ, but the main thing you do is pretty much the same every time: You beat up a bunch of faceless nonsense, with the occasional hint of “duel with a famous officer” or “you run around the damn map like a person on fire to hit a target, which is probably more of murder. “

Therefore, unsurprisingly, there is very little new in SW5. Its combat draws heavily on the core of its immediate predecessor, with new elements such as Ultimate Skills that are familiar to players of Musou-licensed games like Dragon Quest Heroes or Persona 5 Strikers. Most of the changes are cosmetic: the new art and visual style, the old character redesigns, the narrowing of the game’s focus to the rise and fall of Nobunaga Oda. In a genre where the narrative is largely high-gloss, hyperkinetic attire, this might not be enough for players hoping for an entirely new experience.

Yet for me, Musou’s archetypal repeat offender, there was something fascinating about the changes the designers decided to make. Some of these changes are extreme; in previous southwest games, Yoshimoto Imagawa introduces himself as a weirdo with gunpowder face and squeaky voice obsessed with a old-fashioned Japanese soccer analog, a joke equivalent to DWThe prim Yuan Shao. In SW5, he’s a huge brute of a man, a severe and arrogant hegemon that, however, is the first step on Nobunaga’s path to greatness. Nobunaga’s wife, Nō-hime, renounces her sensual and murderous vampire persona in previous southwests becoming a laconic wife forced into a loveless marriage who eventually comes to love her husband. Not all these changes land: Ieyasu Tokugawa’s transformation from strong senior statesman to little bishounen twink It’s puzzling, but for longtime fans of the series, they and the handful of new characters create enough friction with older versions to generate interest.

Sena tells Ieyasu that you'd better

Image: Koei Tecmo via Polygon

A consumer journalist would point out some of the game’s most glaring flaws: a vertigo-inducing blocking camera that has forgotten what “collision” is, for example. The lack of an English voice track in a game that defines “visual clutter” but expects you to read lengthy narrative text on screen routinely. Reducing more than 45 individual move sets from the previous game into 15 shared weapons, one chestnut that already has some longtime musou friends in arms.

But then I think of the raw text file open on my desktop as I write this, filled with notes on the intricacies of the different weapons and how they work. It reads like a conspiracy cork board in more than a few ways. An example: “talisman c3 shikigami – child? priest? What kind of origami looks vaguely personal but would shoot fireballs? “The morning I wrote this, I spent half an hour figuring out how the ammunition switch for the Cannon works, and I felt the intoxicating joy of understanding when I discovered the difference between buckshot, bullet mines, and explosive projectiles, a difference in the game. It barely explains .

So I’m staying here with the story of a game that could be deeply frustrating and almost certainly a future repetitive motion injury waiting to happen, but also one that, despite all that, captured my attention and set me on my way. , way more hours of play than the amount required to write this article (49 hours at the time of writing).

As I sat down to write, I kept asking myself: How can I correctly answer the hypothetical reader who asks the dreaded question, “Am I going to enjoy this?” If I look at it solely as a consumer review, what you get is a very serious and lifeless result that says nothing about the real thing. experience what playing SW5 it was like for me. “Graphics at level 3 seem to be properly adjusted, five out of five” does nothing to remind you of the importance of that hour of experimenting with the vaguely explained properties of a weapon, not because you need that mechanical knowledge to win, but because knowing it felt great.

Mitsuki works with his shadow clone in Samurai Warriors 5

Image: Koei Tecmo via Polygon

Yet at the same time, some of those nut and bolt things I mentioned above are actually necessary for your information. That move set thing, the lack of English acting … those will be defining facts for Musou players for a long time. And all of this is before whatever kind of pushback I’d be making of the genre’s notorious (and not entirely undeserved) reputation for mindless button-mashing. Yes, the game appealed to me, but I have also devoted twenty years of my life to Musou’s games. Would anyone without that context get any Useful information from me that describes my joyous laugh when Mitsuki high-fives with a shadow clone of herself at the end of one of her attacks? Probably not.

Therefore … I don’t know how to talk to people about Musou games anymore. So here, you get a bit of both – a hint of the dry system overview Y a hint of things that made me say “… dude!” out loud while playing.

In the end, the most I can say is this: Yes, over a week and over, I spent a lot of time in Warring States era Japan doing a series of emphatic Mermista “UUUUUUGH”, but maybe that happened because When something shows occasional hints of craftsmanship and shine, your desire to sand every last of its rough edges is even stronger.

Samurai Warriors 5 will launch on July 27 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PERSONAL COMPUTER. The game was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a pre-launch download code provided by Koei Tecmo. Vox Media has affiliate associations. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find Additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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