Lost and forgotten installment
It speaks a lot to the game’s marketing and memorability that when picking it up from the store that I usually buy games that the people there had not even heard of. Maybe the reason was due to buying it months after release, but as a consumer I expect them to be at least mildly aware of it being out already. Though I can’t blame them much when I had no knowledge either until I was looking into games to buy when I got my PlayStation 4. This problem that was partially fixed when Koei released 4-II, but what about the original? Having already played Dynasty Warriors and Orochi Warriors 3, I was excited to get into the Samurai Warriors series for the first time and see the characters I had already been introduced to in their stories.
The stories, however, feel short. The story levels are separated into multiple legends. Some legends lead into others as continuations but the overall content feels lacking, especially when a number of legends have three to five battles–one even only having two battles. This was an extreme disappointment. The overall length of the game isn’t the only culprit; but it was also that the featured characters are hard to develop attachments to as only a short time is spent with them.
One way to invest more time with the characters is through the campaign mode. When you enter the campaign mode, there is a character creator with all options being pre-made to select from. Once the character is made, choose a region to start in and then move around battling to open up routes and to explore other regions. Certain officers will already be available to partner with based on the region you start in. Different regions also determine which officers are more likely to appear. After battling against, or teaming up, with a character for multiple battles, their friendship level will raise. This unlocks an event interaction between your character and the officer. It gives some insight into some of the character’s lore and personality. To raise the levels requires going through similar battle conditions and situations over and over again. But I still felt more accomplished in the campaigns than I did in the original story.
The gameplay and battle system is always easy to play, and like most Warrior games, there is a lot of button mashing. If you can press square and triangle, then you can play this game. The map is important for checking where the objective is. Sometimes when objectives have no clear map marker, you can go to the menu and look at the battle log and find the dialogue that originally gave you the objective. There can be some markers on the map that were passed by too quickly in the midst of finishing the previous objective.
One part about the battle system that was a nice feature to have is being able to control both the primary and secondary characters and switching between them with the press of the options button. By having this ability to switch, I would command my secondary to go attack or defend in one area while controlling the primary character to finish off an opposing officer. When the secondary arrived at their destination, I could switch and have control of them to do what I needed to. It is harder to rely on the AI in this game than others. Your secondary is not going to have the same speed to finish off an officer without you being behind the controls, so having the ability to direct them and then control them made some missions with multiple locations much easier to get through.
Overall, the game is lacking. Graphically, it looks fantastic. It falls short with the story and characters. A large part of my criticism could come from my personal experience with the Dynasty Warriors series, but I am aware that this is only the 4th league for Samurai while Dynasty has gotten to their 8th. Because of this, not all plot related characters have specially designed appearances like the officers. It is pretty clear which characters are safely expected to appear in the 5th run of the series when it arrives and they will have their own designs. If the game were to develop every character and story connection, expanding the size of the cast could only make knowing the characters worse because of the lack of individual character development. With these types of games, there might always be a feeling of something lacking as each new addition to the series builds off of what it considered its strengths from before. The character development felt so obviously lacking that it makes it harder to enjoy than previous iterations, and harder to want to invest in the next installment when it comes around.