Onimusha Warlords earned rave reviews when it was released for the PS2 back in 2001, and was so popular that a further six games were released over the next five years, most of which were equally well-received. Despite this, Onimusha isn't a name that immediately springs to mind these days, with the series being put to bed in 2006, only stirring briefly when a browser-based title appeared in 2012. Now, Warlords comes to current-gen consoles with remastered graphics and re-recorded dialogue and music, and it's still as great as it always was.
Set in samurai-era Japan, players control Samanosuke, a warrior who has been enlisted by Princess Yuki to investigate the disappearance of servants at her castle. It won't be easy though, as the Princess herself is kidnapped, the castle is overrun by demons, and a mad scientist has resurrected Samanosuke's former rival who had been killed in battle a year earlier...
Originally conceived as a Japanese-themed version of Resident Evil, Warlords feels very similar to early Resi titles. Samanosuke makes his way through the castle (standing in for the Spencer Mansion), dispatching monsters (zombies) and upgrading orbs (key cards) that allow access to new areas. There's a few puzzles to solve, items to take from one place and put down somewhere else, and fixed camera angles add a bit of retro authenticity in the way that only fixed cameras can (you'll either love them or hate them). Tank controls are included for those who enjoy a true old-school experience, but don't worry, it's not necessary to use them.
Various swords and projectile weapons are available, and each can be upgraded using souls absorbed from defeated enemies. These souls also recharge your magic attack meter, replenish your health, and can be used to enhance your orbs and healing items. There's just enough going on to keep things interesting without being overwhelming, allowing players to concentrate on enjoying the action rather than getting preoccupied with busywork.
Warlords looks as good as a polished-up PS2 game could do, and sounds great with its re-recorded audio. It's not the longest game in the world - about four hours from beginning to end - but its budget price (£15ish) and action-packed supernatural story make it more than worth your time and money.
ONIMUSHA WARLORDS / DEVELOPER: CAPCOM / PUBLISHER: CAPCOM / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH, XBOX ONE (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW