Onimusha 2: Samurai’s Destiny PS2 Review

What’s with all the Resident Evil comparisons? Everyone tends to refer to Onimusha as “Resi with swords”, and Capcom’s other brilliant spawn, Devil May Cry, is known as the “next-gen Resi”. Sure, both are survival-horror games but Onimusha is totally different in comparison to zombie shooting and puzzle solving. Just because they have the same elements and belong to the same genre doesn’t mean that either one of the above mentioned games is a Resi spin-off. Thankfully, Onimusha brought us fresh air: the beautifully detailed Japanese architecture and the addictive combat became popular and Capcom started to build another episode.

Some people say originality is a dangerous toy to play with. Every game is based on a landmark title and genres have been done to death because it sells. But the idea behind games is to improve things, injecting new challenge and play into everybody’s heart. As stated before, Onimusha: Warlords washed away some of the Resi-madness in people’s minds; though it wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking, genre-defying title. Isn’t it so that in the movies the cop always has to be suspended first before tracking down the serial killer who murdered his wife and son ten years ago? Maybe the crowd wants to see -and play- familiar things? Look at all those sequels that put their predecessors to shame! Onimusha 2 on the other hand turns out to be a wonderful delight.

In this second instalment, you play as a young warrior who goes by the name of Jubei Yagyu. After Jubei finds out his hometown has been destroyed, he sets out on a vengeful quest to stop the bad guy and kick some preverbial ass. Of course Jubei will achieve his revenge in a bloody manner; it’s what every normal guy would’ve done in that age. Back by popular demand -or just because the developers wanted it that way, take a pick- are the prerendered backgrounds to create good old feudal Japan. So from the start you’ll witness the extremely gorgeous backdrops: Capcom has pushed the PS2 yet another step towards perfection.

Just as in the first Onimusha the main chunk of the game is about killing lots of demonic creatures with the help of trusty magical swords. Whereas Samanosuke, the hero from the first Onimusha, wasn’t that agile, Jubei can dance really quickly around the screen which is ideal for escaping the claws of some nasty beasts. The game starts in Jubei’s hometown , a scene where everyone has been slaughtered and everything destroyed. Rain is pouring like crazy and lightning strikes down from the heavens. This grim place acts as a perfect introduction and already sets the mood perfectly…

A bit later on in the game you end up in a town infested with miners digging for gold and the odd prostitute parading down the sandy streets. It’s nice to see this change of scenery from the cold environment of your village to a sunny mining town. Onimusha: Warlords centred too much around and in the same old castle with narrow halls and little space to properly move. It’s obvious that the developers wanted to take a more adventurous approach so you’ll be guiding Jubei through various locations ranging from a deep mine to an exotic beach, it’s all beautifully detailed. It’s also apparent that the game has some role-playing features of its own: you have to talk to people to get information, or useful items. Sure, most of them spill out the usual banter, but you never know when one of them may say something useful in relation to your quest. This is certainly fun as it takes you away from the fighting so you can calm down again.

If you remember the first Onimusha, you might recall Samanosuke having a sidekick called Kaede though she only played a minor role in the story. But in the sequel Jubei isn’t the only star. You’ll come across four different characters; sometimes you’ll have to help them out of trouble, or they’ll have to get you out of a bad situation. But it’s never pre-set which character will come to your rescue: each of them has an independent scenario and depending on your actions it may or may not intertwine with your own story. Jubei can give items to them, and if they like the stuff given to them a friendship will begin to bloom -sort of like a buddy-buddy system: if you offer something they want than they’ll be glad to do something in return. These gifts can be found on your journey or purchased with the gold you earn from defeated enemies. But are all of them good, honest protagonists, you say? Maybe… In this epic tale of revenge it could be possible that there’s someone breathing down your neck, waiting until he can stab you in the back.

In short, Onimusha 2 may not be the most original game ever but Capcom has implemented some nice ideas such as the Scenario Route and there’s also enough variety to keep the player interested. It’s also longer than the first one so slicing through demon flesh will take awhile and slightly more, yet easier, puzzles are also present to fire up that brain of yours. And if you have paid attention: there isn’t a single reference whatsoever to other Capcom games in this review!