Samurai Warriors 5
Developer: Omega Force, Koei Tecmo
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Europe Ltd
Genre(s): Action, History
Platform: PlayStation (also available on Xbox, Switch and Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 27/07/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Samurai Warriors 5 is the latest addition to the Samurai Warriors series. Prepare to wield a variety of weapons, slaughter thousands of enemies, and learn about the tragedies that accompany war in this title. Will you be wanting a swift retreat or will it keep you coming back for war? Find out in this Rapid Review.
When I began playing Samurai Warriors 5, I did not expect to find an engrossing story. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the story elements. The developers created a riveting story with powerful dynamic characters that change throughout the story. Not only do they change, but their changes are logical, and make sense. For example, some characters change after the death of their loved ones. I found the characters were both relatable and enjoyable to watch. Many of the main characters featured specific relationships with others that were also exciting and realistic. Though so many of the twenty-seven characters had unique personalities, the high character count meant that it was challenging to keep up with all of them. Some characters stood out to me while others were forgettable. Regardless, I enjoyed the inclusion of a wide cast and was captivated by the character designs.
Not only was the cast of characters delightful, but the story itself was excellent. Seeing how certain actions progress the story and the importance of every minor detail made the story feel real. Moreover, this sensation was expanded upon in how the levels were designed. Each level represents a battle in an ongoing war. This allowed the developers to include background and conversations between the characters before and after each battle without it feeling scripted. It also structures time well. With a game, it can be challenging to gauge the time that passes in between levels. Certain events that related to time passing and character ageing helped, but it was solidified by my understanding that battles in war are separated by a decent amount of time, especially when troops need to be moved. The story elements in Samurai Warriors 5 were immersive and kept me engaged in the world.
Against all odds
To supplement this immersive story, each level consists of intense hack and slash gameplay. It felt exactly as war should, with characters running all around me, projectiles soaring through the air and the constant fear of death. Samurai Warriors 5 is fast-paced, and the developers strongly encourage chaining hits together and building a combo meter. I liked that the game encouraged me to play aggressively and chain enemies together, as it made me feel powerful and in command. Although I could take out hundreds of basic enemies in one hit, there were also enemy commanders that required additional strategy. I could never take them out in a single blow and thus I needed to use my resources efficiently.
Thankfully, the developers included plenty of options for me to leverage. I had a basic attack, a dash attack, a block, the ability to summon a horse for fast travel, and four customizable special attacks. All these options took me a while to understand, but once I understood them, I was more than satisfied with the options I was granted. I enjoyed chaining enemies from one special move to a combination attack. With all these abilities, I felt much more powerful than anyone else on the battlefield, and it encapsulated the feel of the game perfectly. I had a great time learning and using my abilities. Even the customization was deep. There were more than four special move options, and each character has a signature move as well. These allowed me to customize my character in the best way I saw fit. I thought my abilities were rewarding.
Moreover, the developers assist the player by including a map with indicators and shouting out important events that are taking place. This was extremely helpful, as, with so much chaos on the map, it can be difficult to find where to go. The map and discussing key events worked excellently, and I was always able to figure out exactly where to go. Unfortunately, since the vocal cues were in Japanese, and the map was in the top corner, it was challenging to stay focused on one thing at a time. One second, I would be looking at my enemies and preparing my next attack, before quickly needing to read important dialogue or check the map for gates that have been opened. This did not detract from my gameplay experience much, but it made everything a bit more hectic and confusing, especially in the beginning.
Even though this was not a big issue in my solo playthrough, I found it was detrimental when playing in the cooperative mode. Because I did not play in cooperative mode the entire time, I needed to explain the core gameplay loop and basic mechanics once I had a partner to play with. In practice, this is simple, because the basic strategy revolves only around the basic attacks. However, they were quickly overwhelmed by how many tasks were mentioned, and they did not know which had been completed, how to properly read the map, or what the indicators meant.
In theory, the cooperative mode works perfectly, and there are no issues with it. The screen is split so we found that we could distance ourselves from each other and the collective scoring system meant that we were not fighting over kills. Unfortunately, in practice, I found that it was too challenging to learn quickly for a cooperative session with someone who has not played before.
Since I had difficulties keeping a second player immersed in the world, I ended up playing most of the game alone. Samurai Warriors 5 works great as a single-player game, and there are no issues with this. However, sometimes I found that the levels would get a little bit tedious. Many levels followed the same structure. Defeat a certain number of enemies, defeat specific boss characters, protect one of your allies from dying etc. . I enjoyed the core gameplay loop and enjoyed myself in many of the levels I played but I also wished the levels featured more unique objectives or additional ways to differentiate themselves from each other.
Even still, the developers included plenty of interesting ideas in the game. First, there is a large variety of weapons wielded by an even larger cast. I liked being able to change my weapons and character based upon my preferences or synergies with the level and I never felt like any character was useless due to individual strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, the developers encourage skilful gameplay with a point grade system and increased difficulty modes. I thought the developers did a great job incentivizing these more challenging gameplay modes and playing each level well because they offered me additional rewards for completing rigorous challenges and getting high ranks. Moreover, I enjoyed the inclusion of Citadel Mode. This was a more fast-paced structure of the game, and while the main format is the same, it focuses on a tower defence aspect. There were refreshing ideas too.
I had a great time learning the various weapons on offer, slaughtering enemies in thousand-to-one odds, and fighting in challenging boss fights. But I did find myself fighting these same enemies repeatedly and experiencing little innovation in between levels. Moreover, I was constantly focused on many things at once. I would look at the map, read the dialogue box, and try to aim my attacks all at the same time. These features are all great and helped guide me on my journey, but I found it was strenuous to multitask. Regardless, there is plenty of great gameplay on offer, especially if you love chasing high scores and do not mind a little bit of repetition.
War and Peace
To complete their package, the developers included an excellent atmosphere. As I mentioned previously, the stylistic choices are excellent. The level select screen is immersive, the various characters are unique, and everything is very aesthetically pleasing. There are cutscenes in between each level that are stunning as well. These excellent visuals supplement the gameplay well. Not only that, but the soundtrack is lovely. It was peaceful at times and energising at others. The music set the scene well. The developers included excellent music and visuals to complete their package.
Samurai Warriors 5 is a fun adventure where I got to learn about the challenges of war, strains from loss, and the importance of close connections. Though it does not feature immense level variety, I really enjoyed playing through all the levels and experiencing the game. There is plenty of gameplay here too. Samurai Warriors 5 features an abundance of content. I enjoyed my time with this title.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase Samurai Warriors 5 on the PlayStation store here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.