Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Oct 042023

The first game we’ll be taking a look at this spooky season is Onimusha: Warlords, the first game in the Onimusha series.

The original Onimusha: Warlords is still surprisingly easy to find if you don’t mind a used copy. However, it was remastered a few years ago, and I picked up the remaster in a sale on Steam.

(Physical copies of the remaster appear to be available as well, at least Japanese copies that include English.)

Onimusha: Warlords follows Samanosuke, a warrior in the Sengoku period who enters a castle overtaken by monsters and demons in order to rescue the princess. He gains a strange gauntlet that allows him to seal the souls of demons, which becomes an important part of gameplay. Defeated enemies release souls that restore your health, restore your magic, or can be spent on upgrades, depending on the color.

You primarily fight with a katana, although you gain a couple of ranged weapons along the way. As you progress, you also obtain orbs that let you use magic attacks and also unseal doors of the matching element.

Onimusha actually started development as a Resident Evil spin-off, and I could really see that in the game’s structure. As you progress through the game, you find many locked doors and obstacles that require specific keys or puzzle-solving to get past. In this way, the game area gradually opens up, with the player backtracking to previous areas upon finding a new item or power.

So structurally, it’s a survival horror game, although in terms of gameplay I’d say it’s firmly an action game. Instead of de-emphasized combat, fighting is almost always beneficial in Onimusha because of the souls. You can effectively grind if you really want an upgrade before continuing on.

Click for Onimusha spoilers
The exception is when you play as Kaede. Since she doesn’t absorb souls, fighting never benefits you, so I found myself avoiding and running from enemies whenever possible.

The story, meanwhile, definitely has horror elements. From the monsters attacking the castle to the dark plot they’re trying to enact, it’s a horror story that made Onimusha: Warlords a worthy game to start off this month’s reviews with.

Its sequels have yet to be remastered, but since an Onimusha anime was recently announced, I have my fingers crossed that the other games will follow. I had a lot of fun with Onimusha, and the more fun I had, the more I wished the second game was easier to find.

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  12 Responses to “Celebrating All Things Spooky: Onimusha”

  1. If you decided to continue with the series, would you wait for more remasters or go back and play the older ones in their original forms?

    • I’d rather have a remaster to play than find a used copy and hook up my PS2 to play it, although it it really looked like no remasters were ever coming, I might eventually get the originals.

  2. The rest will probably be remastered eventually. It’s amazing the things that have been brought back, games that weren’t very popular still have been given a comeback. Jean Reno is in Onimusha 3 which always seemed quite funny.

  3. I’ve got a friend that likes similar things to me, like monster hunter and xenoblade (he literally preordered xenoblade 3 for ME cuz i didnt have money) and hes terribly obsessed with onimusha, i really want to try it out, i assume i’ll like it

  4. I know “Oni” is the generic Japanese word for demons and monsters, but it makes me wonder how many actual Japanese oni creatures from mythology are in the game… like “Ashiarai yashiki,” the giant foot that crashes through your ceiling and demands you wash it! (Forever my favorite.)

    Speaking of Resident Evil spin-offs, have you ever played the Devil May Cry series? It was originally supposed to be RE4 I believe. I’m most of the way through the first game rereleased on PS4!

    • This first game makes it a little confusing by having the Genma, who are the monsters, translated as “demons” while the Oni, who are on your side, is translated as “ogres.” And a lot of the enemies are just basically zombies.

      Now, the Yomiwari series is a good choice for actual yokai out of mythology. I don’t remember if that one appears specifically, but it would fit right in.

      I haven’t played Devil May Cry yet, but I want to! I’ve actually considered counting it as spooky enough for this month…

      • It’s definitely spooky enough for October, so I say give it a go! Though it leans far heavier on action. Either way, let me know when you start to play, and maybe I’ll get around to finally finishing it (after I finish Baldur’s Gate 3 and Tears of the Kingdom…)

  5. Never realized how short this game actually was, but I will play it one day!

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