PLATFORM: PC, SWITCH (REVIEWED) | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The latest in an increasingly long line of collaborations, Touken Ranbu Warriors takes Koei Tecmo's familiar 1 vs 1000 Warriors gameplay and applies it to characters from the popular (it says here) "spirit of blades" simulation game, Touken Ranbu Online. Set in Japan's Sengoku era, fifteen characters known as Touken Danshi - human forms of famous swords from throughout history - are attacked by the History Retrograde Army and end up being sent on a mission to restore history's timeline and bring peace to the world...
TKR throws players into one battlefield after another where you're able to run around and clear a variety of objectives while mowing down hundreds of enemies using simple two-button combos to pull off flashy special moves and double-team attacks. Between fights, you're able to upgrade your favourite fighters to learn new attacks, as well as adding new rooms to your base where the odd mini-game or relationship-boosting conversation might become available. You're restricted to a handful of playable characters on your first run through each battle, but you can replay any cleared mission at any time using whichever character you please. Unfortunately, a lack of collectibles or upgradeable weapons mean that there's little motivation to go for repeat playthroughs, as you're only playing to earn materials that can be spent on some fairly underwhelming skill trees, most of which are identical for each character.
Despite Touken Ranbu's apparent popularity in Japan (the series has been adapted into three anime series, a live-action movie and a couple of stage shows), it's possibly less well-known in the West, making this a rather niche title indeed. For fans of Warriors games in general, TKR is very scaled down when compared to most other entries, with its small playable roster, short battles (most of them are done and dusted within two or three minutes) and meagre offerings in terms of customisation and meaningful upgrades that usually form a large part of what makes these games so addictive. It might be a fairly hard sell for newcomers, then, but if you're a fan of the series then it's likely that you'll enjoy getting to play as familiar characters in some new and unique situations.