Onimusha: Warlords was the first PlayStation 2 game to sell over a million copies. What an achievement! You would be think that a game that sold over 2 million copies would be more widely and fondly remembered wouldn’t you? I’ve never got that impression. In fact I’d say that Onimusha is criminally overlooked. It’s a shame that it’s not one of the first titles that comes to mind when people talk about the many games inspired by Resident Evil.
So…Resident Evil but in Feudal Japan with Demons. Is that a fair description? Yep! The tank controls, the save rooms, the dialogue, it’s all there. But it also becomes clear early on that the game has a clear style separating it from it’s Capcom cousins.
Early on in the game our hero Samanouske is granted a gauntlet by the Oni Gods. This item that not only allows Sam to take on the demons standing between him and Princess Yuki, but it’s also what really separates Onimusha from it’s Brethren. It provides a simple layer or RPG progression to both the weapons it can form and the orbs that block your progression through doors.
Then there’s what you’re able to do with those weapons…fight effectively! Locking onto a target and being able to block incoming attacks combines with simple movement and swift counters to create actual sword fights! Block, shift, time it right, and then carve your way through. A bit of patience and you’ll be very hard to hit. This is several notches higher than Res when it comes to fighting. The weapons look cool too, which is always nice. They’re the right side of ridiculous.
Samanouske is your typical hero, stoic and brave. We don’t find out much about him and he doesn’t say much! His partner Kaede doesn’t come off well, though her classic ‘Understand’ is still used by my siblings. Bless them, the script wasn’t particularly well translated, but it’s part of the game’s charm.
The story is pretty light, and the script is pretty bad, but when it comes to the look of the game, it’s just really pretty; I adore the aesthetic. One boss fight on a rooftop, under a bright moonlight, was particularly stunning. So stunning that I nearly lost the fight. For a seventeen year old game to have that effect is quite something.
Onimusha: Warlords is neither a long or particularly tough game (A grade yeah!), but I really enjoyed it. Graphically it’s still impressive, making the most of the time period. It’s an old game, and it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about games inspired by Resident Evil, but please don’t overlook it. In fact I might just have to finally get hold of the sequel.