While I was at the Koei Tecmo Event they surprised me by announcing the Western release for Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada. They provide us with a quick overview of what the game will be about and then a quick hands on with the game, however it was a guided demo due to it still being in Japanese. Sadly I didn’t understand what was going on, otherwise I could have probably got away with playing a bit more.
So in this entry to the Samurai Warriors series you will be playing through the Sengoku era or ‘Age of the Samurai’ for you English readers, but the big twist this time round is that it will focus entirely on the Sanada Clan. You might be wondering who they are, if so a brief history lesson is in order; they were a clan in japan that believed in survival at all costs and to make sure that the Sanada family name lived on. The game will follow the various Sanada family member’s through their lives, heroic victories, and brutal fights. I sadly have never played a Samurai Warriors game before, but from researching the games, I came to realise that I might be missing out on some good games.
Straight away I noticed that the cutscenes looked better due to the characters being motion captured. It’s a nice change seeing this as in previous instalments characters would have just stood there statically and talked, whereas now they have more life to them and not to mention how nice the game looked graphically. One of the biggest new features is the ‘Castle Town’. This is the games new hub area and when you progress through the story it will expand. It has all your general hub features such as a Blacksmith where you are able to buy and upgrade weapons, as well as interact with different people while roaming around outside of missions. It has RPG elements where you can interact with the people in the hub to gain useful information or just have a conversation. I noticed while playing that certain characters have a Sanada Banner above their heads, and if you speak to these people they gave you Coins that, when used in missions, give you certain benefits. When you talked to people some words have a blue line under them. If a word has a blue line under it you’re able to press the triangle button and it will explain what that particular word means, which is good for people who might not know of certain words/phases used in Japan. Anyone seen in the hub with a sign post above them is someone worth speaking to, as these people will progress the story. There was much more in the ‘Castle town’ to look at, but sadly with it being a guided demo, I didn’t get to see everything.
I played one of the early missions, this allowed me to test out the combat. It plays out like previous Warriors games which isn’t a bad thing as it allowed me to pick up the controls and get stuck in. The usual triangle strong attack and square normal attack, alongside the Musou gauge that, once filled, allows you to press circle and perform and epic attack return in this title. You also have side missions that can be done while in missions, this can be anything from collecting materials or killing certain enemies – and if you are able to do these it give you some more experience and money at the end of a mission. Another new feature is the day/night system that plays a big part in the gameplay. If you are doing a mission at night you aren’t able to see the enemy’s location on the map (unless you have gotten the intel beforehand), and the enemies you encounter will be different too. It’s a nice addition to the series as it makes the missions more immersive. If you managed to collect Coins from people before going into a mission you can activate them by pressing L3 and have their effect activated. It could be showing you the location of enemies on the map, or highlighting certain areas of importance, and if it’s night time on the level it can be very useful. The time for a mission is also indicated by a small orange arrow. This is handy as it saves you having to go into the menu to see how much time you have left before the mission ends.
I have to say that I really enjoyed the new Samurai Warriors game. The fact that this time round they have gone for a more story driven direction, where you are solely following a certain character is something that I personally like. The hack and slash element still does the series justice and the awesome combos you can pull off on the hordes of enemies with just simple button mashing is incredible. I even managed to fill up my Musou gauge and do one of the brutal attacks which was visually pleasing. I can’t wait to see more of this game in the coming months and would highly recommend it to any Warriors fan.