SAMURAI WARRIORS: Spirit of Sanada is the newest hack and slash game developed by Omega Force, with a huge focus on the somewhat forced family of Sanada. Following these Red armoured men into battle the game focuses on the lives and deaths of the family members, from childhood to their greying years. Mixing in some exploration, crafting and relationships, Spirit of Sanada aims to enhance its gameplay, which has been mostly constant for several years now.
Like its previous counterparts, Spirit of Sanada explores the Sengoku period, showing us several tacticians fight on historic battlefields. While the game does allow plenty of them to “retreat” from the battle it still includes famous deaths as well as ones created by the team. As usual, Oda Nobunaga is aiming to control the continent, unifying all factions under one flag, his own. With this path of destruction heading towards the Takeda faction.
Starting off with Masayuki Sanada, we will partake in battles to expand the Takeda clan’s rule and dominion. Along the way gaining some children, seeing the death of our elders and even our ruler, the game puts forward the sense that the young will always take over for the old. Taking up the helm with Yukimura Sanada, the more well-known character of the family after Masayuki’s time comes to an end.
The main campaign is rather long, lasting over 20 hours, featuring plenty of side-missions, collections, crafting, relationships and more. Depending on your investment in the series there could be a lot of replayability here, with the storehouse/library allowing you to replay any mission to get S rankings, complete objectives or just generally replay them. Instead of starting a new game you will rather replay during the same playthrough.
I am pretty sure any gamer will know how a Warrior game plays, from their titles in Dynasty/Samurai to their spinoffs and franchise combinations like Hyrule Warriors. Spirit of Sanada doesn’t change up too much in its combat, nor does it really need to. Like many hack and slash games, this game features 2 attack buttons, Square and Triangle, combining these for combo moves and finishers. As you continue to attack you will build up your Musou gauge and a rage metre, Musou used with Circle for special attacks and Rage activated with R3 for increased speed and stagger resistance, ending in a better Musou attack.
Running across a vast battlefield, you will swathe the fields of soldiers, with over the top action, flashy colours and explosions. Never taking itself too seriously, this Warriors game improves the gameplay with even more units on screen at once, bigger maps and more dynamic events. The cannon fodder of soldiers increase in difficulty as you progress, but it is the captains and strategists who pose the real threat.
As you pile up the bodies and complete missions you will gain EXP for your characters, gaining levels that increase their stats and unlock training for longer combos, more Musou gauges, a longer rage meter and more. Besides following the Sanada clan you will have the option for side-missions with other characters so you will need to level each one up individually to have an easier time on the battlefield.
When you’re done with the endless bloodshed on the fields, you psycho, you can reserve yourself to some friendly actions in the castle town. Mash the X button into submission to hoe the fields, planting seeds for fruit and vegetables. Or maybe, put on your anime serious gaze as you press X in the sweet spot for fishing, gaining 2 fish at a time. You can also praise the gods to play “Where is the ball”, trading 1 item for the chance of a better one at the shrine. Goofiness aside, these are some nice mechanics to utilize while not in battle, gaining items for crafting or in battle.
Crafting makes a return in Spirit of Sanada, though it does seem a bit stripped down. You can craft tonics for use in battle, to heal health, increase stats and other effects. Besides tonics you can buy weapons and give them skills, like increase damage, reach, attack speed etc. To do both of these crafting options you will need Gold, gained from battle, and materials, which are given as a gift for missions or picked up on exploration maps.
Overall thoughts and feelings
As per usual, the music in Samurai Warriors is fitting and never falls away to the background. From oriental tunes, and calm tracks for traversal and cutscenes to action-packed tracks for battle and bosses. Again, this is another game with no English voice acting, which continues to be a detriment as the action nature of the game doesn’t always allow you to read the text boxes at the bottom of the screen. Another thing to note is that Warriors continues its “cutesy” approach to its female characters, with plenty having a high pitch and childish voices as they slaughter thousands of people on the battlefield.
I am very satisfied with the difficulty of this release, it didn’t feel too hard or too easy, and the objectives come in various forms from protecting an ally or area to killing targets within a certain time limit. It does throw you into the thick of it when you have to swap characters as per the mission demands, but you can easily adapt to the situations. The addition of crafting and improving allows for any player to grind out a hard stage if they spend the time to prepare.
Overall SAMURAI WARRIORS: Spirit of Sanada gets a 8/10, it continues to improve on its solid formula without changing too much in the meantime. This samey feeling from the controls and gameplay is a slight detriment, as I feel as if I have played this game 7 times before. Missions can end up being rather short or long, the short missions often feeling underdeveloped or rushed. Crafting, leveling and customisation in terms of stats are well made, but could have been explored a bit deeper. The focus on 1 family does lead to the story becoming a bit stale in comparison to their main titles, but it does also give a new view of the campaign.