Samurai Warriors 5 Review


I bought Samurai Warriors 4 recently so I would be ready for this one but otherwise it’s definitely been quite the wait for the 5th game to come out. They pulled out all the stops with this one though so it was worth the wait. It’s pretty interesting to be playing as a younger Nobunaga in this version. It’s definitely way before the days when he really cracked and became known as the Devil King. The gameplay is on point and there’s a lot of content to enjoy here.

The main campaign introduces Nobunaga as someone who wants to end the chaos in the land. As with all would be tyrants he figures that the best way to do this is for him to rule over everyone. If he has all of the command decisions then perhaps that would ensure that people would finally stop having wars with each other. The obstacles in his way are numerous though as every other leader and king doesn’t want this to happen. Along the way Nobunaga will make allies, enemies, and wild cards. He will have to manipulate everyone effectively in order to win.

Nobunaga may start off with good ambitions but you definitely see him begin to falter as the game goes on. He makes more and more dicey decisions which even leads at one point to him ordering one of his teammates to destroy himself. The teammate is the one who brought up the idea first but that’s definitely a time where you need to override them. Nobunaga’s pride also gets in the way often times as he fights battles that cannot be won.

Of course with the gameplay mechanics it looks like his plans are going pretty well but then the cutscene appears and you realize that officially you’re actually losing. It’s not like the other kingdoms are light weights after all. They’ve got plenty of strong fighters in their own rights as well which is why careful planning is definitely a must here.

As for the gameplay, it’s a 3D hack n slash as you would expect. You run through the levels and take down as many enemy officers as you can. You have to clear some objectives and defeat the final boss in order to clear the level. Once you have done that, you repeat the process in the other levels. Always keep your defeat conditions in mind because in some you will need to protect someone or you will risk being defeated.

Losing in these games is always rough because of how long each level takes so you will want to keep that in mind. You have your normal attacks, special moves, and power blows. I recommend power blows against minions since it takes them out real fast but against bosses mainly you want to stick to standard moves. They can always block the initial power blow and that can be risky. You can mix it in through combos which is a better way to go about it.

Riding your horse is a great way to move around the stage so I highly recommend doing this. While you’re on your horse it just feels like you save time on all aspects of the game. Usually that might not be a big deal since you want to have fun and enjoy the game at your leisure but in protection missions this will come in clutch. As you progress through the game and level up your character you will begin moving faster as well.

Samurai Warriors typically has a slower running speed than Dynasty but with these power ups you will end up moving very quickly by the end. It gets to the point where it almost feels like you’re on the horse full time. It was a blast and felt like a power up that actually made a huge difference. A good leveling up system should have noticeable benefits so I was pretty pleased about that.

The graphics are really solid as expected. I got a little nervous at first when I saw it was just text boxes but then the game changed to full cinematics and I was happy again. Basically the game just switched between the two. There aren’t a ton of full cinematics but enough where I’m satisfied. You get one between levels and occasionally during an event in the level. The graphics inside the actual gameplay are on point as well.

As for the soundtrack, it’s got a lot of pretty fast paced tunes which I enjoyed. They fit well with the constant action that a warrior game brings you. You might not remember a lot of them in particular but it can be hard to notice anything while you’re fighting it out in the map. I should probably look up the soundtrack at some point but while playing you will be all set here.

As for replay value, getting all of the trophies to this game will take a very long time. The main campaign also isn’t very short, it was a little longer than I had expected. After that you can play the game through someone else’s point of view so there are 2 stories total. Finally you have Citadel mode where you try to protect the palace from intruders. It’s not quite as fun as the standard mode but I’ll give the game props for switching things up a bit. It does feel different from the main mode which is important. Leveling everyone up and getting all collectibles are all things that will take time as well.

Overall, Samurai Warriors 5 is definitely a great game and one that I would recommend to any action fan. It’s got all the fighting you could want and the game is very intuitive. The mechanics just make sense and it’s a very satisfying game to play through. You’ll have a lot of fun going through it and then beginning the wait for 6. Granted, I doubt we will get a 6th title for a very long time but this one will last you until then. I doubt I’ll get the Platinum in this one but at least it does look more achievable than some of the previous installments in the series.

Overall 8/10

Wizards of Brandel Review


Wizards of Brandel brings us back to the world of high quality RPGs. The Asdivine Heart titles will always be legendary for their various quality of life upgrades to the genre and this one follows closely in its tracks. It may not be going as cosmic in is setting as those games but it’s got a fun story and you’ll have a fun time running through the game. It’s a bit on the short side but there are some post game elements that will help you run the length a bit more. I think I beat it at around 14 hours or so.
The story starts with Darius being evicted from his house since he hadn’t paid the rent in a very long time. All they left him is his bed so he now lives in the middle of a forest. One day he is approached by an immortal wizard named Mark who says he will allow Darius to live at his mansion as long as the hero does chores. Darius agrees but little does he know that Mark is a legendary demon lord who is wanted by the entire world. Is he really safe at this house?

The core cast is fairly small but each character is memorable. Brandel does a good job of giving each character a lot of character traits early on. First off you have Darius who is fairly emotionless most of the time although it’s very easy to tease him and cause the guy to blow up. He has a lot of different magical spells. Darius is obsessed with learning as much as he can but unfortunately none of those spells get him a lot of money. As he gets roped into this latest quest to save the world, he stows his fear and does his best.

Then you have the heroine Erica who is an agent of the government and was originally here to hunt Mark. Gradually she realizes that something isn’t quite right about all of this. Mark doesn’t seem like a villain and Darius is an upstanding guy so she aims to get to the bottom of this. She’s a good character and the game has an interesting dynamic with her and Darius. Usually you have the oblivious guy but the heroine likes him. In this game both of them only see the other as a friend so the supporting characters keep trying to push them together since that’s how it’s supposed to be…but the two main characters are both oblivious and just keep it moving. That was a fun twist and it must have been intentional.

Then you have Phelia who is a little girl that was kidnapped and experimented on until she turned into a plant monster. She has a lot of cool abilities now and may even be immortal but at the same time you never want to voluntarily have to go through experiments. The main characters decide to help protect her and ensure that this doesn’t happen again. It takes us back to our main plot where there is clearly someone evil in the world but it doesn’t appear to be the immortal wizard Mark. The heroes have to clear his name and find the main villain before too long.

In this case, the game is short enough where there aren’t many suspects so you’ll probably figure this out pretty fast. That said, the game does its best to still throw a few curve balls your way so it won’t be too easy to figure out what is going on. The story is interesting so you should be on board the whole time. The post game is more about tournaments and not really plot but there are some cutscenes to give closure to the characters as well. You can’t help but feel like Erica got the short end of the stick though.
Finally you have Mark who joins the party near the end. He has some kind of tragic backstory involving how he became immortal but the game doesn’t go into it. Every time someone asks him about it, Mark refuses to talk about it. It’s kind of neat that we don’t find this out, leaves a little mystery and room for your head canon here. I wish he would fight a little more since it seems like he should be pretty powerful but unfortunately that never ends up happening.

Then you’ve got Veldt who is the leader of the Guild. He seems pretty reasonable but the guy just looks like he’s a little more powerful than he should be. You’ll want to give him a second look to be sure and don’t let your guard down. Then there’s Cloney who is here to help the heroes. He will be King if our plan works out so that’s a pretty nice incentive for him to help us right? Not a bad prize for being a good citizen. There’s also the Warriors 3 who are pretty interesting antagonists. They are the best of the best in the kingdom and since they are after us, that means things will be tricky.

The gameplay is that of a turn based RPG. As I mentioned though, the game is light years ahead of most other titles in pretty much every way. You are able to speed up gameplay, go into auto battle mode, and use all kinds of tricks. You can turn animations on and off and so at all times you can play the game how you want. You may need to grind up some levels to beat the game but with auto battle turned on it’s not really much of a problem. It goes by very quickly and it’s just a lot of fun. I’d like to see more titles just make a game as smooth as these always turn out.

In a way you may get a little sloppy with the actual gameplay if you rely on this too much though so make sure you fight a bit on your own just in case. It shouldn’t be necessarily if you get a lot of level ups though. You have physical skills, magical ones, unity moves, and of course your physical attacks. Then you have the shop where you can trade in gems to buy incredibly powerful weapons, permanent EXP upgrades, and things like that. As a rule of thumb I always say to get the permanent upgrades first since they will come in handy for a lot of other things as the game goes on. By the end you will be really OP. A good way to grind is to click on the statues in each dungeon which let you run a gauntlet of 3 battles in a row over and over again. You get guaranteed gems which is huge.

The graphics are very good as you would expect. The art style always pops out for all the games from this company. The level designs are on point and the whole thing is just so colorful. Meanwhile the soundtrack is on point as well with a lot of tunes that sound just like something out of Asdivine Hearts. It’s all very fast paced and pretty hype. On a technical level the game really holds up.

Overall, Wizards of Brandel is great. It’s a relatively simple game as far as RPGs go but the execution in each area is just so good. You won’t be bored for a moment since there is always something happening here. The character cast is good and while the length isn’t very large, there’s enough content to keep you satisfied here. I’d definitely be down with this game getting a sequel and I hope the company continues to churn out more RPGs. I’d recommend getting this game if you like the genre or if you’re curious about starting this kind of game since this is a perfect entry point.

Overall 8/10

ABZÛ Review


Abzu is one of those games where you’re going to be doing a lot of exploring. The very premise of the game is effectively that you are underwater and just trying to have a good time. Unfortunately as things go on you can expect to face off against some powerful foes and this may be a deadlier swim than you had ever intended. The fact that the game has some lore and a bit of a story is always a nice bonus. The game isn’t very long but the time could definitely end up extending if you get lost or something which is very easy since there is no map.

The first half of the game is really focused on just swimming around but there is usually a general pattern. You have to find a way to power up the two chains leading into the main statue. To do this, you will have to usually find either a generator to turn on or have your robot blast through something. Your little drone robots are incredibly handy I should add so if you find one on the ground, make sure to pick it up. That being said, I think it may be mandatory anyway so you’ll find yourself doing that at some point.

The only active button you need to use in the game is the square button which allows you to interact with objects. This is how you progress items and get farther in the game. If you see an orange triangle show up anywhere then you have found exactly what you were looking for. That is your ticket. There are also meditation zones where you can space out for a while. It’s an interesting concept to be sure but….I don’t think you really need to worry about that one for too long outside of trophies.

The soundtrack is fairly mild here as it’s going for a very laidback array of music where you don’t even notice it half the time. I’d love some more rock themes or something of course but I do get why they didn’t go that way. The graphics are good. They don’t look quite as solid as the Thumper levels of course but all things considered I think they did a good job here. The explosions from the enemy squares were also good.

The second half of the game definitely picks up in the excitement factor since we get some actual action scenes and a sense of danger. It’s still nothing too high end of course as the focus is ultimately on exploration but it was a nice way to make things more interesting. There are a lot of paintings to establish some kind of lore and my personal guess is that humanity was wiped out by these robotic aliens. The main character managed to escape but he’s just not sure what to do anymore. That’s why he’s wondering around all over the place. I assume perhaps he has amnesia or something like that which I think would make sense in the context of the story.

I’ll definitely give Abzu credit for having large levels though. Part of why you can get lost in the first place is because the levels are absolutely massive. You can just be running around for ages and ages as you get used to the place. While you are in the water for 99% of the game, there are brief moments where you get to go on land. That was definitely fun and I wouldn’t have minded more sections like that. Land based movement is ultimately still the best if you ask me although 3D flying comes at a close second. Being able to do both kinds of movement like in Superman for Gamecube is ideal.

Overall, Abzu is a very low key game. My first impressions of it weren’t great but the game did soften me up as it went along. It ultimately became a game that could stand up on its own. Slowly but surely it got more interesting and that’s a good way to go out. Better to have an unimpressive opening and a solid ending than vice versa. Things got a little dicey for a minute there when it seemed like something was going to happen to the Shark but fortunately that was not the case. It’s not really the kind of game I would go out of my way to buy personally, but when it’s free like this I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. If you’re up for a game about exploring then this is as good a title as any to check out. That said, if you want something that’s a lot more plot focused involving water then you’re going to want to check out Super Mario Sunshine which to this day may be the definitive water based game.

Overall 6/10

Subnautica Review


Time to check out another one of the PS Home free titles. Subnautica is a survival game and I haven’t played a whole lot of those. Unfortunately…that’s probably for good reason. Now, you can absolutely churn out some great titles for this genre, but this was not one of them. I think there is an ambitious game to be found here but it does leave you to your own devices a lot and it is maybe trying to be a little too realistic. More on that in a minute.

Your spaceship has crashed and now you are stuck in an escape pod. You are able to bust out but the main ship is infected with radiation so going there isn’t exactly an option. Additionally, you don’t have a lot of equipment. If you don’t rustle up some food and water soon then you will eventually die. Can you manage to survive in such a remote ocean or is it game over for you? There isn’t much of a plot beyond that but you’re not supposed to be playing the game for the story to be honest.

The gameplay is pretty smooth so that’s good. I was able to make a knife and a power up that let me swim faster so that was a good way to kick things off. I felt like I would do anything as I scooped up a bunch of mushrooms and equipment. The problem is that soon after I ran out of item space and couldn’t figure out how to clear my inventory. I put as much as I could in storage but even that filled up so then I was sunk. I needed to try and make some things to fix up a radiation suit or to at least fix my tech but I couldn’t find the elusive ingredients.

One thing is due to how large the game is, it can be very hard to find a specific item. It’s like digging for a needle in a haystack as they say. Along the way you can also meet a lot of fish and even some monsters. Watch out as some of the monsters can blast you out of existence with their spores or just eat you straight up. I wanted to see how far the ocean would stretch out so I made it a great distance before being eaten. I’m sure there is a limit to how far away you can go but it would take a while to get there.

The farther you go the more dangerous the Ocean gets as well which makes a lot of sense. That’s exactly how you would expect it to be right? Meanwhile you can’t go underwater for very long as you will drown so keep that in mind as well. In a way you have 4 different health meters now as you have to watch out for radiation, hunger, oxygen, and water. Fail to keep one of those meters up and you’ll die. As I mentioned the game goes very in depth. I could have done without some of that though like food which is probably the most annoying one. Dying of hunger’s kind of sad but at the same time I won’t want to waste item space on getting a lot of fruits or fish.

You’ll need to do it anyway but still, I think that’s where the game is getting a little too realistic. I’d be good with just hanging out in the ocean. The graphics are definitely really good though. The game’s visuals are sharp like the waves and the backdrops. It’s part of why you can be okay just swimming around for an hour or two. The soundtrack is pretty much nonexistent though so don’t expect to hear any big tunes like that. This isn’t exactly that kind of game after all.

Ultimately what keeps the game from going higher is that it’s just not a whole lot of fun outside of short spurts for me. It’s not really a very active game where you are doing a lot of things. You do have to plan things out and someone like Senku from Dr. Stone would probably appreciate the attention to detail. Outside of a scientific basis though, I wouldn’t be likely to go back to this game without some kind of extra story being added in or some cutscenes. Now that would be a lot of fun.

Overall, Subnautica is a game where you can tell they did put a lot of work into it. It didn’t quite click with me but if you’re really into the genre I can see how it could potentially work. The level is certainly huge so you can spend a lot of time in the game. The loading time may be a little long to start the game but considering how much has to be generated I can see why that is the case. It basically saves at any time as well so that’s cool. There are also some automatic events that play out the longer you play so that’s pretty neat. It’s free so you may as well give it a shot.

Overall 5/10

Gal Gunvolt Burst Review


Gal Gunvolt Burst is a game that I didn’t even know existed as of a few days ago. Who would have guessed that Mighty No 9 would have had a crossover of any kind. Well, it’s definitely nice to see Beck back alongside the Gunvolt character. I’m not familiar with the series Gal is from but the more crossover characters the better right? It’s a really solid platformer that rewards exploration and customization. If you get the right loadout set up then you should be able to dominate any level with ease. I tried going through the whole game without much customization but let me tell you, it makes a huge difference.

The game starts off with Gunvolt being warped into a rather strange world. In this world he is unable to use his normal powers. Before he can make head or tails of what is going on, he is approached by a robot who claims to be Beck but longtime Mighty No 9 fans will know that the color scheme doesn’t match. He says that Gunvolt will have to defeat 8 Robot Masters in order to find out the truth about the world. Gunvolt isn’t sure what is going on here but he is certainly ready to unleash some combat and take everyone down a few pegs. They don’t have him known as one of the strongest fighters out there for nothing after all.

The story is very to the point. I imagine that in the other stories we would see something similar here. The structure of the game follows the classic Mega Man template where you have to defeat the 8 robot masters in front of you. After that you enter the final levels where you have to defeat them all again and then take on the final boss. Each level isn’t particularly long but you should really take the time to explore a bit on the way to grab some power ups. The power up function is very handy here.

In terms of gameplay you’re running through the levels and blasting all of the enemies in your way. However, there is a bit of a wrinkle to the normal formula here. You are given a customization menu you can access at any point. Here you can choose to do things such as make your bullets bigger, improve your speed, add double jumps, etc. You have to fit it all within your system specs though. So initially you won’t be able to do much of anything and then by the end of the game you can turn on almost everything. When you beat a level you are given the option to choose one of 3 rewards. These include more space, a poster for your collection, and an elemental power. Initially I picked space for each level I beat.

That ended up costing me a bit because element attacks are really what you want here. Like in any classic Mega Man title the element guns help you deal extra damage to your opponents. It makes a huge difference in a fight. Without those element guns I wasn’t able to beat almost any boss without a lot of fruit. Fortunately every level would give you opportunities to grab a ton of fruit. However, this caught up to me in the climax level where you have to beat all 8 robots again. That was a little much for me to deal with. I got wrecked a lot so I had to go back and beat every level a second time. Additionally I went out of my way to get a bunch of other power ups. The best customization option was the triple attack. It takes up a huge amount of space (5000. For reference my final space limit was 7000) but it’s well worth it. It’s hard to describe just how good triple attack is. With that I was beating most bosses in seconds.

So the moral here is that customization is huge. It’s handled really well and the reason why I like it is because it does cause you to explore but you really feel the benefits of doing so. I’ve always said that if you’re going to be a game with a lot of backtracking then it’s important that you feel the improvements. It is undoubtedly true that you are way stronger with these upgrades so that was satisfying. The Gunvolt levels were also a lot of fun because they faithfully recreated all of the Mighty No 9 levels to go with the bosses. It’s all pretty nostalgic this way and seeing Beck again was definitely a lot of fun.

The graphics are on point as well as the soundtrack. This has that nice Mega Man feel to it both with designs and music but throwing a modern touch on it. This is an example of a game modernizing a lot of elements without losing sight of what made it so much fun in the first place. The game is a little short on each playthrough. I’d say it’s probably around 2-3 hours. There’s a trophy for beating the game in an hour though and I can see how that’s possible. There are 8 main levels which range from 3-5 minutes and then the final 4 levels. As long as you beat them without dying too often and properly use your customizations then you’ll be set but that’s not something you are likely going to be able to do the first time around. Obtaining the platinum trophy would likely be difficult here.

One trophy says to beat the whole game with your default loadout. I can already see how that would be quite troublesome indeed. You would need to really master the boss attack patterns. It does add to the replay value though as well as beating the game with the main 3 characters. The physical version of the game also brings a lot of bonus characters that you can play as too. So you have a lot of options here to be sure. I know the main 3 have very different gameplay styles so I wonder if that’s true for these other characters as well or if they are echos this time around.

Overall, This is a fun crossover. It’s a very retro styled game with a nice little plot where we get to see the heroes meet up. It’s fairly quick but all of the levels are fun so you’ll have a good experience here. If you like side scrollers or shooting games in general then this is a good one to check out. Additionally the customization aspect is just handled really well so it’s fun to experiment with different loadouts. I’m definitely ready to get some more crossovers like this in the future.

Overall 7/10