The Onimusha series is one of those long forgotten Capcom franchises from the early part of the 2000s. With every Capcom remaster, I had always wondered when it was going to be Onimusha’s turn. These games weren’t perfect by any means, but they offered something incredibly unique. Think of it as a mix between Devil May Cry and Resident Evil. It was a nice mix of action-oriented gameplay and light survival horror mechanics. I found a game like Onimusha to be something that is sorely missed these days. Outside of the indie market, we don’t really get these unique titles like this anymore. Playing it again after so many years, I found it to be a pleasant surprise. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a nice change of pace when comparing it to the other remastered games that I’ve played.
Onimusha: Warlords follows a samurai named Samanosuke who has gone to Inabayama Castle to rescue a princess named Yuki. Over the course of the game, you learn that Princess Yuki is to be sacrificed, so that her blood can be drank by Nobunaga Oda. The main reasoning behind this is that by drinking Princess Yuki’s blood, Nobunaga will finally be able to defeat the Saito clan.
The game’s world is set up similar to something like the original Resident Evil. Progressing may require a certain degree of backtracking after obtaining certain items. There is also an extra 20 floor side dungeon in the game called the Dark Realm. The Dark Realm has you defeating enemies in order to progress to the next floor, with some of the Dark Realm’s rewards being very rare items. There are also various puzzle lock boxes for you to solve throughout the game. Some of them may require answering a question, while others will have you rotating numbers. There are different rewards from these lock boxes. Some chests will contain Health or Magic upgrades, with others having certain weapons or armor. The game itself has you switching between Samanosuke and a female ninja named Kaede, with the portions of the game where you control Kaede being relatively brief. Each character has their own unique weapons and abilities. Samanosuke gains power from a gauntlet, and obtains multiple swords, which are obtained by progressing. These weapons can be upgraded by using souls. Souls are primarily obtained after defeating demons. Outside of the weapons that can be upgraded, Samanosuke can also upgrade different orbs. Upgrading orbs will allow Samanosuke to unlock certain doors, with the number of upgrades needed to open a door being signified by the amount of plasma on it, with the max number being three. As for Kaede, her weapons cannot be upgraded, but, she can find a stronger weapon variant in one of her playable segments. Both characters can also obtain ranged weapons. These cannot be upgraded, but provide a very strong long-range attack.
Getting into the combat of Onimusha: Warlords, as I said earlier the game is primarily action-oriented. For most of the game, you’ll be using melee weapons. Combat with both characters is what you’d expect. You slash and then you block. The main difference between Samanosuke and Kaede, apart from their weapons, is that Samanosuke has access to powerful magic attacks. The element of the magic depends on whichever weapon that Samanosuke has equipped. Outside of the melee combat, both characters also have access to ranged weapons, however, ammunition is limited. When playing as Samanosuke the ammunition itself, be it arrows or bullets, can be upgraded to a more powerful version by using souls. It should be worth mentioning that Onimusha: Warlords can be completed without using ranged weapons at all. But at the very least, it adds an extra element in creating a more diverse combat. Moving around in this version is a lot more fluent than the original Onimusha: Warlords as well. The controls have been updated from the previous tank controls to be more modernized. You can still play using tank controls via the d-pad, but the more modern movement makes playing the game less frustrating. I do feel that the updated controls make playing the game a lot easier than the way it was at its original state, but, I still appreciate that more modernized movement was added in nonetheless.
So moving on to other aspects of Onimusha: Warlords, I’ll first start with the graphics. Their age is definitely shown. Even with the updated textures, the game’s graphics have seen better days. From the awkward facial animations to just some of the odd lighting, there’s definitely some issues that seem to be more prevalent due to the HD texture upgrades. That being said, the character and enemy designs are all still pretty decent for a game that is almost 20 years old. There is something very interesting about the demons. Overall, I’m mixed here.
As for Onimusha’s sounds and music, everything in the game sounds great. There is a nice feeling when you hear the sound of your weapon taking down an enemy. The voice acting is not great. I feel that I should give this one a pass though, since this game was developed when voice acting was still kind of uncommon. It was a bit of a luxury thing back then. When you had voice acting in a game it was awesome, even when it sounded terrible. As for the music, it’s fantastic. There is a very dark tone to the music. There are times when it reminds me of the original Resident Evil a lot. I honestly appreciated Onimusha’s soundtrack a lot. It was quite good.
Any of the issues that I’ve had with Onimusha stem from random lighting issues that I’ve seen. I’ve been playing this on the Nintendo Switch, so I’m not entirely sure if it is just a Switch issue or if the lighting can be odd on every version of the remaster. I never had any issues with the game crashing or anything, so that’s a positive.
So coming to a close, all that’s left for me to say is what I think about the Onimusha: Warlords remaster. I’m indifferent. I really enjoyed playing the game, but it’s insanely short. I think that it would have been better suited for them to just remaster the Genma Onimusha version of the game, since that would be considered the complete edition. It’s still hard to complain, since Onimusha: Warlords is only $20. It’s just kind of a shame to not include the Genma additions. I don’t entirely understand it, but who really knows the decision for this except for Capcom. What you get here with the Warlords remaster is still pretty decent, but like I said the game is short. I played through the game twice with both playthroughs taking around 4 hours. That being said, there is definitely some replay value. There is an extra difficulty mode that can be unlocked after collecting 20 fluorites, and there are a few extra costumes as well. So with all of that being said, I think that I would recommend this game to anyone looking for something nostalgic. The game is fun, but in some aspects it’s definitely showing its age. The world design that’s been laid out is incredibly interesting and atmospherically the game can be creepy. I would like to see Capcom consider remastering the other Onimusha games in the future as well. I think it would be nice to have a chance to play updated versions of them. It can be kind of hard to go back to older games, and I feel that this would give more people a chance to be introduced to something different. That all being said, Onimusha: Warlords is a game that I don’t think anyone can go wrong with.