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Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada (PlayStation 4) artwork

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada (PlayStation 4) review

"The Spirit of Sanada delivers more of the same, but now less so than before."

Another year means another Warriors game. This time, Samurai Warriors takes a turn with Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada. But this time around, things work differently because the new release breaks from the diverse feature set mold its predecessors established. That keeps things interesting in some ways, but the switch to a focused single-player experience might well leave long-time fans wondering why the game wasn't simply released as a DLC expansion, rather than as a standalone title.

Instead of featuring multiple scenarios, this new game devotes its attention to a single storyline. The focus is on the Sanada clan and the impact it had during a 54-year span of time within the Sengoku period. The game limits itself to this single mode, which places the player in control of different clan members. Their adventures are managed through a central hub, from which modes of operation are selected. There are numerous characters to talk to in that hub, with some offering a meter you can fill to earn a coin. These Six Coins of the Sanada allow you to activate special actions during coming battles.

The bulk of the gameplay is about the same as it always is in a Warriors game. There are light and heavy attacks, as well as special "Musou" attacks. You can also ride on mounts, which you can improve with different saddles obtained from the blacksmith. He also produces new weapons for you to wield. The blacksmith system has appeared in previous games, though it was omitted from the most recent installment. Interestingly enough, the skill system offered in Samurai Warriors 4-II is now gone, replaced by a simpler skill synthesis system where you supply materials and pay a fee to increase the strength of any bonuses you choose to attach to your weapon.

Missions are more story-based this time around, but there are optional sub-quests that offer further rewards. Most of the sub-quests are best tackled in repeat playthroughs, since it's usually not possible to accomplish them in full the first time you attempt a stage. Otherwise, the gampelay is exactly the same as you may have seen in other Warriors games. And missions still range from the stand-alone type, to multi-stage battles that feature one battle after another. There's no option to save your progress between these mini-battles, and so the effect is similar to an endurance mode. That provides a greater degree of difficulty, though not so much on the easier settings where heaps of health power-ups are lying around each area.

The main reason Spirit of Sanada fails to thoroughly impress is that it represents yet another Warriors game with few improvements, and with no full feature set of modes. It's exclusively a single-player experience, with no co-op play to add lasting value. And it's kind of annoying to have to move around a village hub to access the few new modes available, instead of easily selecting them from a menu.

As we've found before, the game's only audio track is in Japanese. It's a shame, since there haven't been many Warriors games with a proper English dub since the PS2 era. Those dubs were a series highlight, because of the unintended humor produced by the cheesy performances. As for the music, it's cheesy butt-rock similar to what the other games have featured, and some of the tracks are even reproduced. It's nice enough in general, but settles for "serviceable" rather than inspiring.

The graphical engine is also showing its age, since the game was also produced with the PlayStation 3 and Vita in mind. The former of those isn't being released in the west, though, since the console's production is ending everywhere. The market for Warriors games on that hardware has likely closed for good.

Given its $45 price point, Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada can't help but feel like a small expansion, rather than a full-on release. It comes off as a bit of a cash grab as Omega Force moves onward to Dynasty Warriors IX, or at best a way to sate loyal fans until the inevitable next Warriors All-Stars. If you're one of those Warriors fans and you want to have more fun with the Sanada clan, you can certainly do so, but I'd suggest waiting a bit for a price drop.


EricRPG's avatar
Freelance review by Eric Kelly (July 04, 2017)

Eric Kelly likes writing about RPGs, reading non-fiction (usually academic in nature), watching anime, and listening to mostly video game music. So a total nerd.

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