Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada – review

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada is a spin-off of the Samurai Warriors series, which in turn is a spin-off of the Dynasty Warriors franchise. The game is set during the turbulent Sengoku period of Japanese history, where political and military conflict was at the fore, as rival clans battled for power. Unlike other games in the Samurai Warriors series, Spirit of Sanada concentrates on just the one clan, and tells the story of Masayuki Sanada and his two sons Nobuyuki and Yukimura; with the story unfolding over fifty years of the clan’s history, and the characters growing older as the story progresses.

The battles are fast and fluid, but do get repetitive after nearly 40 hours of play time.

With the game focusing on one clan, and essentially one family, you feel a lot more invested in the tale and what happens to the characters. You start the tale as Masayuki as he fights alongside legendary warrior Shingen Takeda. Masayuki only has one aim in his life, to protect his clan and family, and he does this by switching sides many times throughout the story in order to gain the upper hand. In fact this story has more twists than even Hercule Poirot could deal with.

The battles themselves take place on various maze-like maps, with huge armies of warriors to take down. The fighting is of the typical button-mashing variety and most of the enemies are easy to despatch with a few swipes of your spear or sword. It’s when you face higher-ranked lieutenants that the game offers more of a challenge, with these enemies jumping around, blocking your attacks, and using special moves on you. Most can be taken down reasonably easily; but when you’re faced with three or four of them at once, it can get quite tricky. We found using our horse was the best way to thin out the opposition, as you charge around knocking over enemies (with an animal that we think was created by Skynet) as it feels no pain and can’t be killed. Your horse also helps you navigate quickly through the levels when you are faced with a time limit to defeat certain targets. These time restraints can get quite frustrating, as there were a few instances where we failed as we ran out of time, even though the battle was being won. We found the best way to play here was to ignore the easier enemies and concentrate on finding and defeating the lieutenant characters, who you will probably have to face at some point in the level anyway.

Combat is livened up by chaining regular and strong attacks into combos, with charge attacks and the extremely powerful Musou attacks throwing and juggling dozens of enemies up in the air like rag dolls. These special attacks are quite satisfying as you power your way through the level like a Samurai super hero.

As well as having a horse, you can also buy a panda to ride into battle. Animal lovers shouldn’t fret though, as these animals are like the Terminators of the animal kingdom!

Some of the larger battles are split into Multi Stage Battles. The first part will have you, say, scouting the area for enemies; the next stage has you thinning out the opposing army, with the final part having you take down an enemy boss character. While the battle is raging you might get a request to help one of your officers, and if you manage to save them, this will give you the option to use a Strategem in the next phase of the battle. This gives you the power to call on the officer you saved to help in the next part of the battle, which will help swing things in your favour. These Strategems cost one Sanada Coin, and you can have up to six during each battle. Once you have effectively taken out most of the opposing forces, you then take on a boss character. These are much the same as fighting against lieutenants, but tougher to take down. That’s the theme of the game from one moment to another; “much the same”. 

Mini games like fishing and farming are unfortunately very simplistic.

After you’ve completed a battle you are taken to the Sanada Homeland, a hub world that gives you the chance to explore and engage with friendly characters. In this hub world you can go fishing, upgrade your items and weapons at the Blacksmith, and level up your characters by training them at the Dojo. You can also give gifts to various characters, which raises their friendship level. Once they reach a certain friendship level, you can call them into battle alongside you. You can also do short missions for the Homeland residents, where you venture off exploring and clearing an area of enemies, while collecting loot that can be used to upgrade your attack stats and add in extra powers like lightning, fire and ice that deal extra damage to enemies. Items can be bought from Shopkeepers that you use to create medicines to boost your life bar during battle, and potions that boost attack and other stats. You also have a small piece of farmland that you can use to plant seeds that grow into useful crops which can be used to create medicines etc. We were disappointed that the fishing mini game was pretty basic, and all you need to do is hit a button when an on-screen prompt says that you have hooked a fish. Although it is a nice distraction to the frantic button-mashing of the battles.

Some of the super moves are very satisfying to perform.

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada is a game which won’t appeal to everyone. The combat, while satisfying, does get pretty repetitive after well over 30 hours of play time. Our controller is now in bits after some punishing button-mashing. However the story is engaging with a good cast of characters, and some quite hilariously quirky voice acting at times. The addition of some RPG elements in the Sanada Homeland helps break up the repetitive gameplay. It doesn’t quite hit the lofty heights of a well-placed Musou attack, but the series is definitely heading in the right direction.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

Leave a Reply