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Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada Review (PS4)

The next installment in the Samurai Warriors series is upon us. This time it follows the highly regarded Sanada Clan, particularly Yukimura Sanada and his father. With a huge cast of characters and a large array of weapons and attacks to destroy your enemies with, take on the challenge of new multi-stage battles as you progress through this hack and slash action experience.

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada Review

Introduction

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada, developed by Omega Force and published by Koei Tecmo, is a hack and slash action game that puts players in the heart of a war-torn Japan. This title focuses on the Sanada clan, mainly Yukimura Sanada, and his father Masayuki Sanada, but features a massive cast of characters (several new and fan requested ones). Massive battles broken up into smaller segments are new to the gameplay and are known as Multi-Staged Battles. This isn't the only new feature that can be found however; new special attacks, Rage Mode, Castle Towns, Stratagems, and even fishing. 
You can buy the game on PlayStation 4 for $49.99 or Steam for $44.99.

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada Character Gameplay Trailer!

Gameplay

The fun comes with slaughtering huge armies of enemy soldiers while controlling one overpowered badass. This is, at its core, the backbone of the series. Although there is some experimenting done in this installment, and some changes occur in different aspects, it largely remains the same. Main hub areas will be referred to as castle towns where you will shop/craft your armor and weapons, fish, and interact with many NPCs before going out to war (or simply explore). When it's time for combat, you'll feel the war unravel much like a campaign mode; multi-stage battles will progress the action by splitting it up into segmented parts. Can you successfully escort a caravan through a territory, or will you fail to reach the destination. Will you successfully push back the enemy forces, or become a statistic of their aggression. 

Each time you deploy into the combat zones, you'll have four different goals (separate for your main task) that are optional. Many times they will just naturally be completed, such as killing a certain number of special enemies, exploring a certain number of areas, or collecting a certain number of items off the ground. Completing all four of these tasks will unlock the availability of a fifth. Based on efficiency, you can earn the use of Stratagems via Sanada Coins. Essentially meaning you will get some form of a bonus ally or condition during the next battle that will ease your job. Everything is story heavy so it'll take a little dedication to learn (if you want) assuming you don't know who many of the characters are. If you're wishing to just get into the action of everything then be prepared to mash the skip button during dialog and text chat.

Wether you take your time and soak it all up, or you skip it all like the salad part of a buffet, once you get to the combat everything feels great. The handle is a tad wonky if you're new to the style or brand, but feels smooth after an hour or so. The character moves extremely quickly with no understanding of how acceleration is suppose to work. You have basic attacks and then strong attacks. Additionally you have attacks that will catapult you through groups of soldiers or across the field quicker. The depth of combat gameplay comes from the combinations of Musou attacks and the Rage Mode. Once in Rage, the player will be boosted in all categories, doing exactly what the name implies. As you progress through the game you'll learn new moves that, when combined with the Rage mode, make for some really creative killings.

Yukimura Sanada and Allies

Sound and Graphics

Unfortunately the game does not have english voice work, but that is to be somewhat expected. If you don't speak Japanese though, the reading will be book worthy. Not entirely because of it being well written, but because of the quantity. It's almost a visual novel when not in combat (but not the visual novel imagery of character portraits), and if you want to get the most out of the story you'll find yourself reading tons of glossary pages and notes in order to fill in the gaps. It's better to have too much as opposed to not enough.The music was perfect for completing the historic japanese culture, and it never became an annoyance, but I did have to turn the volume of it down in the settings at the very beginning of the game. It overpowers everything else and at times doesn't have boundaries, so to even the field of audio I suggest making this quick adjustment. 
Graphically the game looks just as much like its predecessor and other Koei Tecmo publishings. The world is bright, detailed, and crisp looking. Everything feels as though it has had a 'sharpen' effect put ontop of it. Generally I like the extremely sharp appearance of everything, but I would say it causes a few performance issues. I experienced a bunch of screen tearing when I rotated the camera around, and a few glitchy environmental structures. Of course, this isn't helped with a minor blur effect. Most noticeably this happens in the castle town due to it being smaller in nature. The combat looks as good as ever, with aesthetically pleasing weapon swinging and special moves that look as strong as they actually are. 

Samurai Warriors Spirit of Sanada Castle Towns

Conclusion

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada is a worthy addition to the series. Instead of giving players a game full of politics and war from every direction, the title focuses deeper on the story involving a single family and how events transpired over an entire generation. I loved seeing Yukimura grow as he tries to fill his father's shoes. Something about it made me feel a better connection to the wars and conflicts going on. The story, while incredibly deep and detailed, can be a huge pill to swallow. Luckily for all the glossary is just as deep and detailed and will help players learn everything there is to know, and fills all the gaps. It feels like the combat is either 'love it' or 'hate it' but anyone who has played and loved the titles before will still feel in love here. There's enough changes to the game's structure that it warrants a chance, and for the most part it executes everything really well. My only wish is that there would be a motion blur option in the settings to help ease the minor screen tearing of the tight environments full of trees. 
ProsCons
 + Large scaled battles full of enemies (the usual)
 – Minor screen tearing in small environments
 + Always play as a badass character
 – Not as technically polished as it probably should be
 + Deep story with a lot to discover 
 
7.8
Good

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