(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.
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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