Originally released in March of 2001, the Onimusha: Warlords is the first in a solid series of games, involving both tales of honor and conflict in Feudal Japan, while also being filled with dangerous secrets and deadly monsters. Some have described Onimusha as Resident Evil but in Feudal Japan. Now, Capcom has released an HD remastered version of Onimusha: Warlords to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam. It has been 18 years since its original debut, but the experience still holds up and is worth diving into in this new year.
As stated before, Onimusha: Warlords takes place in Feudal Japan, during The Sengoku Period. It is a time of conflict and upheaval, but for the samurai Samanosuke Akechi, he is a warrior, bound to peace, justice, and honor. Following a massive battle, Samanosuke receives an urgent letter from Princess Yuki. The letter implies that monsters are reappearing in the deep woods, silently eliminating her servants. Samanosuke arrives at Inabayama Castle, but is too late, the Princess has been abducted by the demons.
Overwhelmed and on the verge of defeat, Samanosuke is pulled into a portal and visited by The Twelve Oni. Knowing that his mission to rescue Princess Yuki will determine the fate of Japan, he is granted a special gauntlet, known at the Genma. It can absorb the souls of demons and is subsequently used to enhance Samanosuke’s powers. With the Genma and his blade, Samanosukesets off deeper into the castle to defeat this great evil that has been laid before him.
Onimusha was an impressive game when it originally released, but it has been made even better now with refinements and adjustments that make the game significantly more enjoyable. The first thing players will notice is that Onimusha: Warlords looks fantastic. Most remasters cover only certain aspects of a game, such as a game’s in-engine graphics, while dismissing other aspects of the game, such as cut-scenes. In the remastered Onimusha everything, including cut-scenes, are cleaner and more vibrant. The original PS2-era graphics and level appearances remain the same, but the final product feels cleaned-up. Visually, Onimusha is a great way to retain an old-fashioned and nostalgic presentation, while making it feel modern and new.
Another feature that the remaster has over its original release is its new control scheme. The original game featured a control scheme, infamously known as “tank controls.” Before dual analog sticks were standard in video game controls, 3D movements were handled by the directional pad. Resident Evil, Capcom’s signature survival horror franchise, was notorious for using these controls during the earliest entries of the series. The fixed camera angle further compounded the frustrations with this control scheme
In Onimusha and Resident Evil, the levels are painted illustrations, and players cannot move the camera in the 3D space. The camera will follow the player but from a fixed position. These controls were polarizing, as it heightened the player’s sensations causing them to become more careful with their movements, but it was also for made combat encounters significantly more difficult. The remaster features modern controls, meaning that movement is tied to the left analog stick. Players still won’t be able to maneuver the camera in the level, but the use of the left analog stick for movement makes navigating Onimusha smoother and easier.
The combat and gameplay form Onimusha: Warlords is still just as satisfying as ever in the remastered version. Players will encounter a variety of demons, from large and dangerous to small and nimble. Players will be able to employ a combination of sword skills and magic to takedown these supernatural threats. As mentioned before, acquiring the souls of these demons with the Genma is important for leveling up weapons and the powers that are tied to them. Using these newfound powers is enjoyable, especially during boss fights where timing and speed are essential for victory. Onimusha: Warlords’ story is a few hours long, but the ability to replay the game and complete the many achievements tied to the remaster is enjoyable, making this experience a blast to replay 18-years later.
As a longtime PlayStation loyalist, I am surprised that I skipped out on Onimusha: Warlords when it first arrived. It is great that in 2019, Capcom not only brought the game back for older fans, but that they have brought it back for a new generation to play and enjoy. The remaster of Onimusha: Warlords is a fantastic restoration of a classic game. I will easily recommend this to anyone who is wishing to experience something fresh but familiar. Its combat is solid and its visual presentation is great. I hope the Onimusha: Warlords remaster is a sign that Capcom will keep bringing the fondly remembered days of yesteryear to the forefront for a new generation.
The remaster of Onimusha: Warlords is a fantastic restoration of a classic game. I will easily recommend this to anyone who is wishing to experience something fresh but familiar. Its combat is solid and its visual presentation is great.