Hack and Slash has been a popular genre among games across a series of ages, being most popular in the early 2000s with titles such as Diablo II or the Devil May Cry Series. Lately, games of this genre have radically decreased, in favour of a more story-based adventure, changing the game from hack and slash to action. Dynasty Warriors has been one of the lengthiest series of hack and slash games, dealing with the story of the Three Kingdoms of China. Spin-off title Samurai Warriors is a very close counterpart to the original in everything but setting since Samurai Warriors focuses more on the Japanese history.
The latest instalment in the series, Samurai Warriors 4’s story mode features a selection of campaigns, with only a select few available from the start. The more campaigns one completes, the more are unlocked until all the campaigns are completed. A campaign features only four missions, or battles as they are called in the game, and consists of a segment in which the player must defeat enemy officers and generals while protecting his own. The game pits the player as a skilled martial arts officer, wielding a weapon ranging from Kunai knives, swords, staffs and other instruments which may be used to kill tons upon tons of enemies. Funny part is, there actually are hundreds of enemies swarming around the battlefield, only waiting for you to practice your combos on them and inflict a quick but painful death. The number of enemy peasants or infantry soldiers may seem a bit excessive but it really is not since they inflict only minimal damage on the harder difficulty settings. There are so many that the game even rewards you for every 1000 enemies killed by providing you a bonus for all attributes for a couple of minutes! The only real nuisance about these small troops are archers, who disrupt your combos and may also stun your character for a second or two. Then there are officers and generals, who are much stronger and who have a health bar larger than 2cm. These are the toughest challenges in each battle, since their ability with their weapon is quite decent and in situations where two or three of these gang up on you, there might be some serious trouble on the way.
The commands in the game are incredibly simple. You spam your attack with the square button being the normal attack, and the triangle is called hyper attack, which is basically a dash which clears smaller enemies out of the way, but which stronger opponents may block or deflect. The x button is jump and the circle button charges Mosou, a special attack which is unblockable even for enemy officials and which does considerable damage. The R1 button is another move which is different for each character, for example gain invisibility or summon a wall of flames around you. Last but surely not least is Rage Mode, triggered by pressing R3. This mode enhances your attacks and slows down the enemies for a few seconds, enough to get rid of some fifty enemies. It is awesome chaining move after move and creating a multitude of combos, sending tens of enemies flying in the air at once. There are different combo starters such as light or hyper attack, and then chaining either with the same button or ending with the other attack. Each combo is different if the number of times one presses a button is different. For example, pressing square three times and then triangle will result in a more powerful combo than pressing square and then triangle. The game also unlocks further combos as you kill more enemies and progress further into the game, prompting the user to press the touchpad on the Dualshock 4 to view his most recent combo unlocks. While on a mission you can also smash crates and other destructible items and retrieve new items or weapons, which can be equipped in the menu before battle, or food which replenishes health.
Before missions, you have to select a main character and a secondary character, interchangeable freely by pressing the options button. While giving you the option to play as two characters is interesting and definitely helpful in some stages, the lack of AI will sometimes lead your secondary character to death, which signifies instant loss of the battle and thus one must start over. Thankfully, by pressing the up button on the d-pad one can choose what the secondary character’s mentality will be, such as Follow which makes the secondary character follow you, or Free, meaning that the character is free to do what he wants and go wherever he pleases. It is worth noting that the game can be played single player or co-op, both online and offline. In that case the secondary character becomes the second player’s character and thus no option for switching character will remain in co-op battles. Samurai Warriors takes on also an RPG-esque mechanic, having characters level up after each battle, having their stats, among which health points and mosou, increase thus making the character more powerful after each mission. It is a simple but neat touch which makes the player delve further into the experience.
Apart from the story mode, there are also Free mode, which enables players to revisit any battle previously completed in story mode, as well as Chronicle mode, where one creates his own character and journey along Japan, creating a sort of history of that era by engaging in missions, small or large, across a sort of an open world mode where one may run across a map of Japan with a huge version of your created character. Again it is a very good mode which lets you test your skills and eliminate more soldiers.
Samurai Warriors 4 is an incredibly fun game which, having an original storyline based upon Japanese mythology, a sizeable roster of unique characters and some of the most fun mechanics I’ve ever experienced in a hack and slash game, will not bore players quickly. It has little elements of variety through the different game modes, which although not a lot, will still feel refreshing after killing hordes of enemies, making it a game to keep a very keen eye on, fans of the genre or not.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.