Edited by: Tiffany Lillie
The PS2 classic Onimusha: Warlords, a hack-and-slash RPG, makes an appearance in 2019 on the PC with improvements, retaining its nostalgic feel. Anyone who played this way back in the early 2000s will enjoy seeing this come to modern systems. However, those who enjoy it today might be limited to those who enjoyed it back then.
STILL GOT IT
The story, albeit noticeably short, is still worth playing today. How long it takes depends significantly on the player — those who are familiar with where to go and what to do can complete the game in just a few hours (there’s an achievement for doing so), while others may take more time to beat it. The brevity may make you yearn for other Onimusha titles to receive a remaster. The various puzzles are likewise enjoyable and somewhat challenging still. While completing particular puzzles grant an item, others are there strictly to advance the story. It’s wise to save frequently, for failing a timed puzzle or making the wrong move in another one yields the death screen, forcing you to reload your last save. The most frustrating part of dying, besides lost progress, is that dialogue during cutscenes is unskippable.
This release features improved controls to ensure that fights and movement, in general, are smooth. The camera angles are difficult to deal with, as the camera itself is fixed and you may find yourself not-too-infrequently having to remain aware of blind spots, which offers enemies the perfect moment to attack you. There are evasive and blocking mechanics, and a familiarity with when to strike and when to go on the defensive that helps ensure survivability. Enemies can decimate your health quicker than you might expect — another reason to save frequently. Saving doesn’t recover your health gauge, however, absorbing yellow souls or consuming an item such as an herb or medicine restores this. Given that you can reasonably and easily find yellow souls to restore your health, you might want to save healing items for more intense battles, such as when facing a boss.
USE SOME MAGIC
For more formidable foes, magic attacks can deal with them quickly, but this gauge is limited as well and doesn’t replenish on its own. Instead, you may want to repeatedly find easy monsters to defeat and hope for the souls you’re after or find a magic well which is unlimited and can recover your magic gauge fully. Red souls are currency in a sense, used to enhance your items and orbs. You can upgrade an herb to medicine, which restores more health, or upgrade your regular arrows to fire ones. You may stumble across items which permanently increase your health and magic gauges, rendering their depletion less of an issue.
You can also upgrade your swords and their orbs; each one maxes out at level three. Each sword has an elemental orb associated with it, and the higher its level, the more seals you can break, permitting you to unlock new areas to explore.
The scenery doesn’t change a whole lot, and at times you have to revisit previous locations, but there are occasionally intriguing and otherwise eerie rooms. The variety of enemies you face does increase the further you progress and dealing with each one requires strategy. Paying attention to the enemy’s movements and sounds is beneficial.
Onimusha: Warlords runs quite well: I didn’t encounter a crash or much stuttering, although the application seemed to cease responding once for a moment. Unfortunately, as far as graphics settings go, there isn’t much you can adjust besides the resolution. It looks fine, but some might want a way to increase the level of detail or texture quality. (See here for a comparison of graphic quality across platforms.)
The Verdict: Great
Does Onimusha: Warlords stand the test of time? I believe it does. Even though I never played this particular release growing up, but instead watched my cousin play it, I enjoyed it in 2019 — but it left me wanting more. So, I hope other Onimusha titles make their way onto the PC. If you want to replay an Onimusha release from way back or try out an RPG with hack-and-slash aspects for the first time, you should give this a try.