September 23, 2021

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Onimusha Warlords review – An aging Samurai classic returns

2 min read
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I’m only going to say this once, just to experience what typing these words feels like:
People who were born when I played Onimusha Warlords for the first time are now old enough to drive. Or have they already been driving for a year now? See, I don’t even know anymore.

This feels necessary to point out, not to sound uppity, but because any look at a remaster is inevitably going to be coloured by the memories you have of the original. Simultaneously I want to acknowledge that some may not have these memories. For me personally, 2001 was a magical year in gaming. Maybe it simply was magical, crammed with releases that people talk about to this day, even if it’s not always with love. 2001 was the year that the people in games started to look like people, long before SEGA and Quantic Dream made it a substantial part of their business to have well-known actors fight against the uncanny valley.

It was always slightly more interesting to me to make pretend in video games with realistic surroundings, rather than journeying through bubblegum-coloured landscapes as a dragon or bear or what-have-you. This is why Onimusha grew on me immediately. It looked similar to Resident Evil 2, another Capcom game I definitely wasn’t supposed to play at my age, with its pre-rendered backgrounds and a fixed camera that only shifts angles whenever you turn a corner. More importantly, Onimusha gave me Samanosuke Akechi. Samanosuke is modelled after and voiced by Taiwanese-Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro, whose popularity was at its height in the mid-2000s. As a fan, being able to control what I thought was his spitting image was wondrous. And as a samurai no less, one that participated in the famous Battle of Okehazama! Look, I don’t know what you were interested in when you were a teen, but a game built on the assumption that the famous feudal lord Oda Nobunaga wasn’t actually killed at the battle at Honno-ji, but replaced by a powerful demon? It was the most enthralling concept to me.

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