I love a good musou game (a Dynasty Warriors-like) I’ve reviewed a few of the Dynasty Warrior games here before and I’ve tried plenty of the spin-off games (even ones based on series I’ve no context for) but somehow this is first time I’ve played a Samurai Warriors game. There are such minor differences between Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors I had to look up some of the unique aspects between them. Despite being set in different time periods and Dynasty being China and Samurai in Japan, both games feel incredibly similar with a Romance of the Three Kingdoms vibe and battles for honour while slaying thousands of soldiers. Samurai Warriors 5 is the latest in the series and feels like the easiest and flashiest musou yet.
Every musou has the same formula. You have a big sprawling level populated by thousands of soldiers, a handful of generals and you’ll kill them all to proceed. The combat in Samurai Warriors 5 is nicely fluid, you will be chaining light attacks to heavy and firing off powerful musou attacks that become more visually special depending on your characters health and rage. The ability to use skills and buff your character to deal with stronger shielded enemies makes everything a breeze. When at the default setting this is the easiest musou I’ve played in years but can be a nice challenge at the hardest difficulty. Much like Hyrule Warriors it’s all about setting what feels right to you. If you’re breezing through getting S ranks and all objectives without having to press Block once then you should dial up the difficulty.
Unlike your typical musou Samurai Warriors 5 unlocks a lot of its best features painfully slowly. You’ll need to clear multiple missions before you unlock the 2 player local multiplayer mode and various facilities you’ll need to rank up your characters won’t appear until chapter 2. There’s a lot of micromanaging with each character having a skill tree, equipment that can be improved, a different horse, items and weapon proficiencies. After you’ve cleared a stage you can always use the stock experience and cash to improve everyone but it’s a lot of switching between menus. Thankfully you can solely focus on the characters you like and just ignore the rest but you’ll want to be doing the basics between missions as you can switch between allies in some missions and jumping in at a much lower level can result in a swift failure. If you die you’ll be kicking yourself going back to the start all over again.
Samurai Warriors 5 can be a beautiful game at times. When everything is going smoothly you’ll be juggling waves of soldiers and posing anime-style for a fantastically powerful explosion. When it’s not going so smoothly you’ll be wrestling with the camera to see what the heck is going on. Thankfully Samurai Warriors 5 runs buttery smooth even when all hell is breaking out on the screen. The levels do feel formulaic after a while and the detailing isn’t great but the cutscenes and general ‘inky’ art style is fantastic and one that hopefully the series will carry forward in future. The menus and systems are thankfully clear and to the point so between crafting and upgrades you’ll be zipping between them without too much hassle.
The music and sounds are great with an almost Naruto-like traditional Japanese feel at times but they’re also exactly as you’d expect from a Dynasty Warriors game in that there’s nothing that stands out. There is plenty of light guitar rock and Samurai Warriors 5 has all the right weapon noises, clashes and sounds you expect. The Japanese voice cast does a great job with a script that’s ok, there really isn’t any story to write home about and despite the pacing being great it’s all a bit flat. You can expect to hear some really well known talent in the cast and multiple times I was googling names to find out where I’d heard them before. The anime-vibe throughout is strong and when it leans into it there’s some great moments.
Samurai Warriors 5 is another musou game packed with content. You’ll be charging through the story mode to unlock even the basic functions but once that’s done the story mode expands to include alternate extra missions. It’s not a short story either and each mission can take longer with extra optional objectives. The castle has extra arcade-like challenges that will have you going on alternate missions for resources to level everyone up and keeping you in the grind. There’s a vault for unlockable extras and given the packed cast you’re going to be kept busy for a long time with Samurai Warriors 5.
There are some great characters to play as and different action moments that will have you chuckling away as you carve through a land and Samurai Warriors 5 is a great entry game into the musou genre. Samurai Warriors 5 is a bit of a mindless romp but it’s a great podcast game where you can enjoy the flash and pizazz without too much thought. Despite the grindy nature to the levelling up you’ll want to stick with it and enjoy it for what it is. Just focus on the characters you want to play as and let the Ai deal with the rest.
8/10 – Five will make you get up and Samurai
Code provided by Koei Tecmo Europe Ltd. Check out their games here