So this finally went on sale on the PSN, i wanted to get to this sooner as it came out last year, but i refused to shell out 60 bucks for the whole enchillada since now D3 Publisher just releases these games digital only, and still tries to charge them the same.
Kinda, EDF 5 later got a physical release by Pqube, but i guess just because they already published a lot of EDF titles, and NIS – most likely – wasn’t interested in carrying this one westward like it did with Oneechanbara ZII Chaos.
But let’s get back on track, it’s the perfect time of the year after all.
This is the latest game in the series, but – as the title hints to – it’s not a prequel, but a remake-retelling of the first two Oneechanbara games, done to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the series as a whole, i guess it was easier to do this instead of making a new one with new ridiculous looking scanty clad characters and ridiculous story.
They hired Katsuki Enami (of Baccano! Fame) to redo the character designs in order to freshen up the visual style, which works quite well, but the plot it’s fairly loyal to the source material, as it set in the year 20XX AD, with a zombie apocalyptic wasteland version of Tokyo (dubbed Babel Tokyo, because sounds cool), and tells the tale of two sisters, Aya and Saki, born to different mothers but both descending from a bloodline of expert swordmen, and torn apart by their father’s legacy.
Aya, raised and trained by her father in the art of the sword, decides to use her skills to become an Undead hunter and roam the zombie wasteland in search of her yonger sister, while Saki is in an insane thirst for revenge after her mother is murdered, and needs the heart of a blood relative to use an ancient art and so resurrect her.
It’s a pretty typical chanbara plot at heart (kinda), filtered through a very typical anime lens, with added exploitation movie style elements of nudity and fetish, as Aya – for whatever reason – fight in a bikini-cum-cowboy hat & scarf, Saki still dons the school uniform, and the usual zombie apocalypse shit, with monsters and supernatural elements, making for a literal blood feud between relatives cursed by fate and bloodlines. Blood.Blood II: The Chosen. Blood of The Scribe.
There are some new characters (some acting as stand ins for older characters not present here) help flesh out the narrative (as in, Aya’s father actually appears in the story), they reworked the two plots into one and changed things around enough, so it’s pretty much the same thing, but just done way better, as in there are actual production values for the cutscenes and not just silent text dumps that scroll slowly, there’s even an english dub, which i didn’t take for granted, and it’s ok, the voice acting is fine and very “anime”, shame the lyp synching it’s so often obviously off sync.
Gameplay is what you’d expect if you played any other Oneechanbara game, or pretty much any hack n slash developed by Tamsoft, but as far as remake of the first two games combat goes, it’s a pretty big step up, with all the systems found in those games tweaked or reworked in order to make the game actually more fun, the combat pace faster. Of course also keeping the trademark Oneechnabara system of having to polish the swords from blood, as they get soaked in it and gradually lose offensive power.
Now you can also parry, which is useful to stun enemies or make them flinch more, especially useful because stunned enemies can be finished with a spinning dash, and this works on the dreaded enemies sponges known as Mudmen, no need to fiddle with stiff controls and complicated combo strings that don’t work half the time anymore.
You still have to distribuite skills points gained at the end of a level in usual Oneechanbara fashion, but you learn new moves and longer combo strings just by levelling up, even the “Cool Combination” system is still here, but it’s actually explained better (as is everything), it’s useful but not required to kill the Mudmen, and if you have trouble with the timing of the combos, you can toggle a bar to see exactly what the timing window is, quite nice to have options.
It’s not a complete reharsh of what they did with ZII Chaos, aside from lacking the mid air homing dash the combat tries to be less frantic and a bit more technical, and makes some changes like now you have the Witchblade-esque transformation state (called Xtasy Form) drain your HP continuosly (as the Berserk rage mode now doesn’t drain health), but also making you able to regain them by attacking, making for a quite solid and fun combat system on its own that isn’t a slapdash reharsh, visually it’s doesn’t become too flashy for its own sake (so you can always tell what it’s happeninge exactly, recognize tells, etc) and each playable character feels different and distinct enough.
Also, level design is far simpler and straightforward, but for the better, no faffing around searching for whatever random group of enemies would drop a key item, or too many barriers to make the level seem longer than it is, just fighting, combat it’s more challenging, bosses are good, even base zombies can be quite aggressive, and overall it’s quite fun. Trashy in spirit and with nothing else aside from combat, but fun nonetheless, it’s no Devil May Cry, God Of War, Bayonetta or even No More Heroes, but for a low budget affair this is actually quite enjoyable hack n slash gameplay.
Just be prepared to it be on the repetitive side, and that it’s not that technical, exploit-proof or perfectly balanced (once you master the dodge manouver bosses become far easier to deal with it, since there are no unblockable or undodgeable attacks), the camera can be bad when fighting bosses that are way bigger than the player character, alongside the old issue of some locales being reused a lot during missions in order to cut corners, so the scenery often looks identical in some areas, especially the sewers-ruins-acqueduct pieces where you feel you’re going circles.
On the content side, there are the usual modes seen in all previous games (including the oddly detailed Practice mode), just missing is the dress up/character modifier option, which i don’t really care for, but i also feel it has been axed to fall within the more restrictive mandate from Sony on sexual-fanservicey material… at least for niche titles like these, as it basically made the Senran Kagura series (and similar stuff like Gal Gun) migrate by force on a Nintendo console, ironically.
The main campaign will require 5 to 6 hours to beat on Normal, then you can do the bonus missions, try to see how long can you last in Survival, complete the various objectives-quests, upgrade the characters to max and tackle the harder difficulties, etc.
Sadly it’s a single player only title, not too surprising since ZII Chaos was as well, but speaking fo which, i’m not angry fro this being 1 player only, since the latter console release was as well, i’m actually more angered by how the game has bonus missions… if you bought the “Bonus missions pack” DLC or the Season Pass. The latter isn’t particulary offensive since it’s mostly extra costumes, music from the old games, joke weapons featuring other D3 Publisher owned IPS (like the body pillow-sword with Riho Futaba, D3’s mascotte-poster girl), but there are also 10 extra missions…. which were probably cut from the base game as there’s still a “bonus missions” menu in the game.
Even worse when you consider ZII Chaos had a lot of extra missions in the base game.
On the technical side, honestly the performance it’s great, running at the expected 60fps even on a base PS4, music is quite fun and features two themes song from idol metal group Broken By The Scream I’m surprised they didn’t use more metal music, licensed or not, guess nobody learned from the Splatterhouse remake, but then again, i would assume licensing Mastodon, Arch Enemy or Lamb of God tracks it’s a pricey affair.
Overall, it’s a pretty good remake of the first two Oneechanbara games, making them some justice since the originals were honestly terrible, not the worst from that era of Tamsoft titles, but still, cheap and just not fun to play, very close to being like that but in reality just infuriating rubbish.
As for when we’ll get a new game in the series, who knows, as long Tamsoft and D3 are still around there’s always a chance, like with EDF, so for now this is it.
There are still a couple of titles in the series left to cover that happen to have never been released westward, i imported them both but it’s not time…. yet.