‘Samurai Warriors 5’ (Demo) Review

Game poster for Samurai Warriors 5

Note: I plan to do a review on the full game in the future. This is just for the demo that was released on July 20, 2021 for fans to try before they bought the game. Only the first two levels of the Oda Story will be discussed in this review.

Samurai Warriors 5 is finally here and the reviews are pouring out. Unfortunately, because I gave up a steady income to pursue this online business of The Sengoku Archives, purchasing a $60 video game is something I cannot afford to do right now. Koei is here to the rescue though, for there was a demo released on the online stores of the gaming platforms this game has became available on and I decided to see how far this demo went and what this game has in store for us as players and fans of the series. I felt a mixture of things when it came to this game.

Let me start off by saying that this is a beautiful and colorful game, more so than the previous games. The colors are bolder, cutscenes are crisper and even the dialogue sections are more animated than they have been in the past. Some of the most awesome parts are the cutscenes before a level starts. Got a very Sengoku BASARA 4 vibe from the painting art style animation that is used throughout the game, but they just added color to make it more unique to this franchise. I honestly have no complaints here. This is definitely a step up from the past games.

The gameplay, obviously, has not changed that much, which for people who have played the games for years, it is like visiting an old friend. However, this can be annoying when it comes to the first level of the game where all your objectives are just making sure you know how to play the game. For example, they want you to go through your normal attacks a couple of times. To someone who has played the games before, this would just be annoying, but it would be helpful for those who have never played a Samurai Warriors game in their life. The only thing that has really changed has been special attacks that are used when you use a certain combo and you can have up to four of them. This is very similar to the special item attacks that players could use in Warriors Orochi 4.

My problem does not come with the gameplay nor its graphics. The reason why I am not clamoring to get this game right away is because how confused I was playing the first two episodes of the Oda Story. As we have been told by the company, this game is supposed to focus on Oda Nobunaga and Akechi Mitsuhide, going for a vibe that is very similar to Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada. That is fine, but what we are told and what we were given are two totally different things.

In the first episode, it is an ambush on the Imagawa. I know what you are thinking and no, it is not Okehazama. It comes across as it might be, but once you get into the battle, you realize it is the Oda attack on the Imagawa, who is taking Tokugawa Ieyasu back to their lands because he is an Imagawa hostage. I seem to relax a little, thinking, “okay, much like what they have done with other characters in the past, Nobunaga is just a stand in for his father, Oda Nobuhide”, because historically, Nobunaga was too young to have participated in this battle. After, the battle ends, Nobunaga and Ieyasu talk for a bit and Nobunaga decides not to treat him as a hostage, but as a brother instead. Again, this confused me because the alliance with the Tokugawa did not come about until after Okehazama in 1561. Again, I brushed it aside, thinking that this was so they bring Ieyasu in earlier and just keep him as an ally, but because you can only do two levels within the demo, I cannot say for sure if that is what happens.

The whole dialogue between Nobunaga and Ieyasu was about how Nobunaga was going to bring down the Imagawa, but the next level is an attack on Mino. But this is where I get really confused. They talk about Nobunaga’s decision to try taking on the Saitō clan, a clan that gave his father, Nobuhide, a lot of trouble. What? If Nobunaga is supposed to be a stand-in on behalf of his father, why do they mention Nobuhide by name? Why didn’t they do like what they did in Spirit of Sanada and make Nobuhide a playable character and you start off playing has him until 1551, or have him as a non-playable character like what they have done for Oda Nobuyuki and Saitō Dōsan? It did not make any sense to me whatsoever.

Sadly, the demo left me feeling rather conflicted about a series I love so much. Perhaps the first little bit of this game does not represent the rest of it. Yet, despite needing check my spending, I don’t know if I would have bought this right out of the gate if I had the money. I was unsure of the game before, but that’s because the last time they really changed a game was Dynasty Warriors 6. The changes made there were kinda similar: characters looked great but some characters were removed, including the fan favorite Nanban characters of Meng Huo and Zhu Rong. We were only given one Qiao sister too! The gameplay was difficult, and no one really had a unique move set. It was all flash and no substance. I am hoping that the demo does not set the tone for the whole game.

Do not worry, once I am able to get to a point where I can afford to get this game, I will do a review on it, most likely after everyone else has already done one. Nevertheless, I would recommend you give the demo a try if you are looking into possibly getting this game for you do get to transfer your save file to the full game once you purchase it.