Not enough people talk about how Capcom did strong work bringing their creepy horror vibe across more games than just Resident Evil. Devil May Cry uses it well, but I specifically want to highlight Onimusha: Warlords. It’s not really a horror game, it’s an action game where you spend a lot of it doing flashy moves with a samurai sword, but it brings in some of that atmosphere to heighten tension.
It also has tank controls, and now that I’ve actually played a game to completion that features them alongside fixed camera angles, I think they work. I used to be someone who didn’t really like them and felt like they were a limitation brought only by the era they came from. However Resident Evil 2 on the N64 had the option to turn them off in 1999, and Capcom kept making games using control scheme long after others with similar camera perspectives didn’t.
The argument for tank controls in Resident Evil is that they make it harder to avoid enemies in tight spaces, but Onimusha doesn’t really have that, it’s just the game’s method of travel. Dodging an enemy is easy since there’s a lock-on ability that lets you strafe around them, and most attacks can be simply blocked by holding down the guard button. There’s also plenty of offensive options available to deal with the bad guys: sword swings have a wide range around the character; magic abilities can almost fill the screen at times; and you also get an instant kill move (which can’t be used on bosses, and neither the game or manual will teach you how to do it).Well if the tank controls don’t add any tension to the game what’s actually there? There’s not much in the way of good characters. Samanosuke is a bland hero without a personality, Princess Yuki only exists as a damsel in distress, and the bad guys are evil because they’re demons I guess.
What’s really good about Onimusha is the combat. Strafing around an enemy doesn’t feel like it moves too far or too little, weapons and magic attacks have the right amount of heft to them, and while it is at times incredibly tricky to do, actually pulling off an instant kill move is greatly satisfying. My only issues are towards the end, where a few late game bosses have too much health. It doesn’t feel like it makes them harder, the fights just begin to drag a little.
It’s all tied together with Resident Evil-style lock and keys, which require a small amount of backtracking. This really works here as it allowed me to familiarise myself with the spaces for combat, and the game managed to mix things up by changing up enemy placements each time I had to go back through an area.This isn’t a particularly scary game, but it has a very creepy atmosphere. Most of the game is spent in a palace taken over by demons, it’s suitably dingy, dark and some areas have a fleshy, almost gigeresque feel to them. There’s also a roughly twenty minute stretch of deadly puzzles that I wish the game did a little more with. One was a little unfair as failure did result in instant death, but there was a fun kind of pressure to it.
There’s not a lot to get sick of in Onimusha: Warlords, it only took me five hours to finish the game so everything came at a quick pace. If you have a fondness for Playstation 2 action games, like myself, then I would seriously recommend giving this one a chance. I’ve got the sequels to be checking out soon and I’ll be sure to report again if they’re just as interesting.
The new Devil May Cry reboot has been a bit controversial for making some pretty big changes. Now the demo is out there and people can get a real feeling for whether the game is going to feel good or not. It’s certainly going to be very divisive.
I for one really enjoyed playing it, but I’m saying this as someone who could probably be considered as a sort of casual player of previous Devil May Cry games. I’ve never really been into the story of the games, really dislike the music, but I’ve always found fighting demons in each game incredibly fun.
Oddly enough, I’m very interested to where the story goes with the new one, because it’s being handled by developer Ninja Theory, who did a terrific job telling a great story in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. This seems a very different take on what is Devil May Cry, and I for one can’t wait to see how they take existing concepts and apply them in new directions.
I’ve been finding combat very exciting, and already feel a good wealth of options with being able to switch between light, medium and heavy fighting styles by holding down the triggers on the controller.
There’s also two kinds of grappling arm, which can either pull you to things or pull things to you, and I feel that allows for some very interesting manoeuvres when fighting demons. For example, I found fighting flying enemies to be quite fun, as I could grapple towards them and hit them up close with the sword, but also could keep grappling back onto them if I fall a bit, essentially staying in mid-air and not touching the ground at all.
I’m very interested to see how people respond to this, but I’m certain that there are people out there that won’t like it at all, and that’s fine, because it’s certainly different to the games they played beforehand. Honestly I think it retains enough of what it is to be considered part of the franchise, and can’t wait to get my hands on it when the game is out proper in January.