Koei Tecmo has released a lot of hack and slash games over the years however majority of them sadly don’t hold well thanks to their repetitive nature of gameplay. Samura Warriors: Spirit of Sanada is a brand new entry in the Samurai Warriors series, that is actually a spin-off from the Dynasty Warriors series. It is a confusing mess overall if we dig a little around the history of the game but all things told, Samurai Warriors inherits the hack and slash gameplay prominently featured in Dynasty Warriors. This means you should be prepared to battle a horde of enemies to clear out the map as you make you way to the next objective.
Samura Warriors: Spirit of Sanada chronicles the life of the Sanada clan and their rise and fall throughout the years. It is a narrative rich story full of historical terminologies. It is a much more focused campaign compared to your typical hack and slash game and this is what makes the game stand out from others. The story of the Sanada clan is full of loyalty and betrayal and focuses on the samurai Masayuki Sanada and his sons. It beautifully details the story of Masayuki Sanada as he ages through his life, leaving his legacy to his sons. The focus on narrative here is admirable and truly something that elevates the game to new heights.
Leaving aside the story, the gameplay is pretty much what you expect from a Warriors game. You will be able to take control of a wide variety of characters throughout the game’s narrative rich story, although these characters don’t compare to the number of character in past Warriors games, they are all integrated into the game’s story which makes their addition to the game meaningful and not simply canon fodder. The game initially introduces Masayuki Sanada as the only playable character and then gradually unlocks more characters as you progress through the story.
The story will require you to pick atleast one Sanada clan member for the missions, however there are some specific battles that will take place with a different cast of characters. If you take multiple characters in a battle, you can control them and utilize their special attacks and moves. This helps with the flow of combat so it doesn’t feel repetitive. While Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada is playable on its own even if you have never played any of the past games, there are cameos from the past Warriors games like Samurai Warriors 4, which can only have an impact if you knew the characters before. Still as a newcomer to the series, I didn’t really have much trouble following the story presented in Spirit of Sanada.
The combat doesn’t solely revolve around you skills to slash and kill as many enemies as possible. There is a strategy involved here by using the Stratagems. These are unique events that are triggered during battle allowing you to complete your objectives easier. These Strategems have to be unlocked by either completing the sidequests or other optional objectives before each battle. Their usage is limited by a meter that has to be filled before the battle by talking to various NPCs. This system is called the Six Coins of Sanada and it relies on the intelligence gathered ahead of the battle to reward Strategems aiding in completing the objectives.
Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada also includes hubs for the player to explore. These are usually set in between the story missions and feature blacksmiths for crafting or upgrading weapons. You will be able to level up your character and utilize their skill points. You can also find optional quests to undertake that can reward you with some items. The game also has a gifting mechanic that is used to raise the affection level of a party member. If you have a good affection level, they will be able to offer help and can join you in battle. The ingredients that can raise affection can be found during exploration in the various missions. It is a neat mechanic that isn’t overly complex but serves its purpose well.
You won’t be going into combat right away after starting a mission. You can explore around the map a bit before you enter a battle. The mission map is simply comprised of short connected sections that are used to travel between one location to the next. You are also free to explore and discover items that can be gifted to others. If you are bored by the combat, there are even some short mini games like fishing or harvesting that are fun in short bursts of time.
Despite being released on the PS4, the visuals in Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada are nothing to write home about, but the performance is remarkable. The frame rate holds well during some of the more intense encounters even though the visuals are rather simple, they get the job done. What matters more is that Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada is full of rich gameplay and offers a story that will pull you in, making you care for its characters.
Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada is a hack and slash game by Koei Tecmo through their development subsidiary, Omega Force. It is a spin-off of Samurai Warriors 4, part of the Samurai Warriors series, which in turn is a spin-off of the long-running Dynasty Warriors series, both of which are also hack and slash games.
Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada is a compelling historical tale of love, betrayal and trust featuring the Sanada clan.