Touken Ranbu Warriors is the latest spin-off of the Dynasty Warriors franchise. This popular hack and slash action series, which started in 1997, has already collaborated with many popular IPs such as One Piece or The Legend of Zelda.
Touken Ranbu is originally a free to play Japanese online game released in 2015 in Japan and last year worldwide. The all-male cast represents personified swords; the design of the characters is inspired by the swords they are based on. The series might not be well known in the West, but it has gained quite a following in Japan and has sprung multiple anime, a live-action movie, stage plays and now Touken Ranbu Warriors.
Following the original Touken Ranbu story, the characters are from the future and must stop the History Retrograding Force (HRF) from changing history. To do so, they travel back in time under the directions of Kuronosuke, a speaking animal, to fight monsters and possessed humans in order to restore history.
The story is quite good, but the pacing isn’t. After finishing each mission, a small part of storyline is developed either through conversations or cutscenes. The thing is that there are a lot of missions, so I felt like it took a long time before each main event happened. The writing in itself felt unequal, especially the beginning was repetitive because the HRF almost always used the same way to change the course of the original historical timeline.
The historical aspect of the game is interesting. The battles were inspired by real life battles making the game feel more realistic.
The gameplay follows the typical Dynasty Warriors formula meaning that most of the time players have to fight big waves of enemies. They are multiple types of enemies, most of them are bugs or soldiers, some are a mix of both. A few rare missions have a different goal. for example the infiltration missions.
The gameplay is both simple and complex. It is really easy to start playing the game, but there’s depth to be found in finding out the best combos to fight each enemy type. Players can fight with regular attacks, special attacks and each character also has an ultimate attack. On top of all of that, there’s always two characters on the battlefield. One is controlled by the player and the other is controlled by the IA. The two characters have special attacks they can do together, and as their bond grows stronger their attack does as well. Overall, the combat is really fun.
Every time after finishing a mission players obtain materials and currency. Materials can be used to upgrade the characters’ stats or to unlock new special attacks. Meanwhile the currency can be exchanged against stat boosting items or more materials.
There are two difficulty settings, a simple one making the game easier, and which is intended for people that want to experience the story without struggling during the missions. The other difficulty setting is the regular one which unfortunately I found to be too easy. I barely struggled even during boss fights.
The game features a varied cast of characters that felt different from one another thanks to their design or their personality. When they are not on the battlefield, the characters are in a place called the “honmaru” which serves as the main menu. This concept is taken directly from the original Touken Ranbu game, and players can assign characters to each of the different rooms. The characters placed in the honmaru level up automatically after a mission is completed and when two of them are in the same room their bond level goes up as well. After two characters’ bond level up, a special conversation between them is unlocked.
Players can also play mini games in the honmaru, they appear at random times and once completed they give away currency or materials.
During the story players are limited in the choice of characters they can play as. In each chapter there’s a specific team that is dispatched and it is amongst these characters that the player can pick theirs.
Obviously since this is a game on the Switch, the graphics are not extremely good looking. Still seeing so many enemies on screen while the game was running smoothly did impress me.
The character models look nice, and once a character has sustained a certain number of injuries there’s another model to reflect it.
The game is fully voiced even during the conversation segments. The voice acting is really good it has great delivery and fitting voices for each of the characters.
When it comes to the music, it fits perfectly the historical theme of the game, but the different tracks of the soundtrack didn’t feel distinct enough to me.
Touken Ranbu Warriors is a good game with its fair share of flaws. It will for sure appeal to both Touken Ranbu and Dynasty Warriors fans. For the people that aren’t, the game is fun but its flaws could overshadow the good parts especially when it comes to the repetitiveness of the gameplay and the slow pacing of the story.
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