Onimusha 3: Demon Siege PS2 Review

It has all the makings of a blockbuster, yet the Onimusha series has never enjoyed the same success in Europe as it has done in Japan and America, which is quite perplexing when you consider the ingredients of the game and the fact that the mighty Capcom are behind it. In their strive to make it more popular in European territories, Capcom have not only set the game largely in France, but have also appointed French actor Jean Reno, or more specifically his likeness for a character in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege.

The third and possibly final instalment of Capcom’s samurai epic sees the return of the warrior from the first game samanosuke Akechi, this time he ends up five hundred years in the future, whilst Jacques Blanc (Reno’s character) is transported five hundred years into the past, a troublesome situation to say the least, but the two must work together to restore time to its natural state and defeat the ever persistent demon lord Nobunaga. Admittedly, wandering around modern day Paris as an ancient samurai and indeed in an Onimusha title does initially feel a bit weird and without a doubt, this time travelling storyline certainly isn’t going to appease all fans of past titles.

However Onimusha has never really had a great emphasis on story, instead focusing on good old-fashioned hackandslash gameplay, with the only real respite being an occasional puzzle and yes the odd story segment here and there. Onimusha 2 introduced adventure elements that allowed you to offer gifts of persuasion to key characters in hope of wining them over and onto your side, resulting in potential assistance during the tougher battles. With this being scrapped, Onimusha 3 has returned to the more basic style of the original game, which could be disappointing for some, but pleasing for those who just want to get on with insanely hacking their way through satanic creatures, which lets face it, is the real core of the game.

Samanosuke utilizes weapons such as magical swords and hammers to send the enemies back to hell and regular Onimusha players will be largely familiar with his playing style as Jubei Yagyu, the hero of Onimusha 2 also played similarly. However, possibly of most interest to recurring players is the inclusion of an additional main character. The previously mentioned Jacques offers a completely different style of play using whip like weapons rather than a simple sword to see his enemies off. He can even use his weapon to both gain height and swing through the environment just as long as there are “fireflies” aloft to latch his weapon on to, marvellous. Besides these two, there’s also a secondary main character, Michelle is Jacque’s girlfriend and she plays a pivotal role in the storyline, on the odd occasion you even get to control her, guns and grenades make her feel significantly different to the contrasting focal characters, making sure there’s always plenty of variety throughout.

The time travel aspect was always going to add loads of new possibilities to the puzzle side of things and it certainly doesn’t disappoint on that count. Jacques’s and samanonsuke’s link to one another is boisterous fairy: Ako. Ako politely picks up otherwise unreachable items and also can don magical vests, just as long as you have collected enough EcoSpirit. These vests grant various effects to the current character, such as giving you the chance to draw souls from living enemies and quickening soul drawing. Apart from this, Ako can also whisk items through time. For example taking an item to Jacques that samanosuke may have found in his time to likely unlock a door among other conventional adventure play devices. These puzzles may very well be basic, but do add a freshness that is often missing in the genre and we’ll take ludicrously easy puzzles over that horrific water room puzzle in the original game any day, makes us red with anger, just thinking about it.

The first two Onimusha’s were exceptionally beautiful games, but suffered from having pre rendered backgrounds, which were admittedly nice, but could occasionally make things look a little well…fake, at least in comparison to Onimusha 3 anyway. The third instalment ditches these often oil painting like backdrops and replaces them with a pretty 3D environment, which allows for far more roving camerawork than previously and a more convincing world complete with all the usual stunningly beautiful magic effects and detailed characters. It’s the most attractive Onimusha game yet but still not without its problems, sadly there is some shockingly bad slowdown that we don’t remember being present in the other games, on the good side this is extremely rare and therefore doesn’t terribly affect the game, it’s just a pity that they couldn’t of kept it completely consistent for the games entirety.

The time travelling makes for some interesting puzzling, the visuals are more beautiful than ever, the story is superb and most importantly of all the game plays exceptionally well. If this is indeed the last we will see of samanosuke and friends, then Onimusha 3: Demon Siege is a truly fantastic swansong and without doubt the best yet of Capcom’s consistently great series.