Well, that was kinda unexpected, i genuinely though that editorial-ramble earlier this month would be the last time i talk about Touken Ranbu Warriors, but a week before release they also put out a demo on the European (and i guess other territories) eShop, so let’s give it a try.
And say some words. I do mean “some”; because there’s actually very little to say, and actually the bigger news is that the game is also coming to PC in the west, as a Steam release (since the DMM platform isn’t available outside of Japan), with a demo also available for that version. And that version will run in 60 fps, unlike the 30 fps locked Switch release.
As i just unsubtly hinted at, there’s actually very little to say about what can be seen here, since the demo version just lets you play 5 tutorial stages set in very small corridor-like areas to teach you the basics. And that’s your lot, back to to the title screen, with a prompt to save the data for the full version, and a nudge to buy the game on the eShop, in this case.
It’s basically the prologue, i would assume, which it’s often the case for demos of Warriors games, and that at least exposes the gist of the story, set in 2205, about a group of Touken Danshi sent back in the Sengoku period in order to avoid timeline alterations by the History Retrograde Army.
What are Touken Danshi? But beatiful boys with the souls of legendary japanese swords (often as iconic and famed as their possessors/wielders) bestowed upon them, because nothing else aside “bishounen sword boys” would strike fear in those dastardly time travelling history revisionists.
And their army, consisting (according to the demo, at least) of weird insect monsters and cursed-undead samurai.
A pretty cool premise, honestly.
Maybe this is par for the course and the same basic plot outline for the original game this is based on, a browser title called Touken Ranbu Online, and this is the main targeted audience, as Touken Ranbu Warriors wants to serve as a level-entry musou game to a series’ fanbase that might be unfamiliar with the formula.
Nothing wrong with that.
If you played any Warriors game, you honestly won’t need any of the tutorials, as the formula is the familiar one you’d know to either love or hate by now.
Normal attack, charge attacks, special area clearing “musou attacks”, with the usual design choice seen in crossover Warriors game of having a dodge instead of a jump (or a parry, here absent), and the recent trend (seen also in Fate Extella Link) of ARPG style special attacks with cooldown, most likely here also equippable in a 4 slots loadout (there’s no way of telling due to what the demo lets you do and see, you can’t even look at your character movesets), the ability to team up with another ally character on screen for a quick double attack , alongside some old stuff as the “duels.clashes” where you cross swords with a named enemy and have to button mash in order to win the clash.
There’s also battle damage for the clothes, like there was in Fire Emblem Warriors, but honestly the new feature (again, at least judging on the slim content offered by the demo) that stands out is the ability to call the fox Konnosuke to show you where to go on stages, making it extra clear that this is aimed to potential newcomers.
Still, it ain’t bad, still better combat than DW 9. Can say that much even from the demo.
After replaying the demo over and over (which isn’t an issue since it’s that short but you have to straight up start a new game since you can’t load the saved games in this version) i was able to try all the characters, and they’re fine but they feel a bit samey, most being standard katana users and whatnot, but again, it’s kinda to be expected and it’s hard to tell since you can’t see the move list and guess that there’s an action level to grow in order to expand the Charge Attack style combos.
Still, even so all 15 characters have distinct movesets, so already this could be better than Samurai Warriors 5… where they made 15 movesets and had them shared between 27 characters…. the ones that weren’t 100 % generic clones.
On the technical side, even on Switch the game looks fairly good, despite the textures still not being proper good (and the framerate locked at 30 fps, still not a selling point, let’s be honest), performance it’s fairly consisten between docked and handheld.
So the game looks to be ok judging from the demo, more hardcore Warriors fans still would be better served by keeping an eye of the upcoming Fire Emblem Warriors Tree Hopes, but even this extremely niche installment seem the reconfirm the state the non-licensed Warriors titles.
Ending on a bitter note, on the demo’s main menu there’s the “Retail version” option… which redirects you to Switch eShop page, at least on the PAL demo.
Tecmo Koei, you cheap, lazy fucks.