Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada Review – Poster Boy Chronicles
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform: PlayStation 4*, PC (Steam), Playstation Vita (JP Only), Playstation 3 (JP Only), Nintendo Switch (JP Only)
ESRB Rating: T
Release Date: May 23rd, 2017
*The PS4 Pro Version was used to review this game
A retail copy was purchased by the reviewer for this review.
After a series of spin offs for the “Samurai Warriors 4” line of games, “Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada” seems to be bringing them to a close. Going for a much more linear, drama based story mode instead of the wide scale story angles told in the previous games we see a departure from the traditional Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors spin offs. Does Spirit of Sanada have enough original ideas and mechanics to set itself apart from the plethora of other history based musou games?
The story of the Warring States Period is one the Samurai Warriors games will tell again and again until they can’t scrape any new details from the history books. Spirit of Sanada tells the story of these events from the Sanada clan, and does so rather well. The characters are well fleshed out and a lot more likeable than previous entries in the series. They are are only two major gripes I have. One is the pacing between the multi-stage battles has you doing very pointless and repetitive side missions which old within the first few hours. The second is the very confusing and underwhelming ending. It is very undramatized from history almost to a fault. For them to change small details about the events but not change the ending to be a little bit more fulfilling to the character is an odd choice.
The art style and graphical prowess of this game is shared with any of the other Samurai Warriors games from this console generation. A decent showing of power that runs smoothly most of the time. There are a few framedrops here and there but the game never runs at a framerate that ruins the pace of gameplay. Other then that there isn’t much to say here. There aren’t any major complaints or elements to praise.
Samurai Warriors is a series known for the mix of power metal and traditional Japanese instruments in the music department. While carrying over a lot of tracks from the vanilla release of Samurai Warriors 4, Spirit of Sanada introduces a ton of completely orchestrated tracks into the mix. It manages to make the impact of cutscenes and battles much harder hitting than they would be with the traditional soundtrack arrangement. As for the sound effects and general sound design, there was nothing great or terrible about it. If you’ve ever played a musou game you know what to expect here. You’ll be hearing the same few attack noises and hoard of enemies screaming for hours on end, and love every second.
-Sample of the Soundtrack-
The new mechanics introduced into the formula are the saving grace of this game. As a long time Samurai Warriors fan the very small changes made the the gameplay formula are a warm welcome. The introduction of a dynamic day and night system which allow you to only use certain strategies at certain times of day creates a whole new way of approaching battles, and the free roam in the various cities between battles almost changes the entire genre of game to an ARPG. On top of this, the multi-layered rage system lets you create massive comeback situations when you’re low on health. This takes away the potential situation of you running around the map like a chicken with its head cut off scavenging for health items instead of fighting tons of bad guys.
Without rushing through the story or skipping too many side activities, I was able to complete the main story mode in a little under 19 hours. You have the ability to replay any battle in the game to achieve an 100% completion rating after which works as a decent alternative to free mode. Many of the NPCs in the castle towns you can freely explore have side quests you can undertake which would give you roughly estimating another 5-10 hours of gameplay. Even with all of this, there are even a series of mini games to keep you occupied for a few minutes.
Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada proves to be the best and hopefully last of the Samurai Warriors 4 spinoffs. There is a nice retread of the story told in previous games from a new perspective, new mechanics that open up different gameplay options, and a soundtrack that much improves upon the almost formulaic power metal of previous games. The only negatives are to be found in the story’s writing and mission pacing. With both of those things in mind, it still isn’t enough to totally ruin the experience. If you’ve never played a Samurai Warriors game, this would be the one to get introduced.