Samurai Warriors Chronicles Review

Samurai Warriors Chronicles does a fine job of bringing the shallowness and tedium of the series to the 3DS.

The Samurai Warriors series has long been devoted to transporting players to its unique version of feudal Japan, a place where a few extremely powerful and stylish officers meet countless identical, mindless grunts on vast fields of battle to engage in repetitive, shallow hack-and-slash combat. Samurai Warriors Chronicles is faithful to its forebears, bringing all the tedium that has characterized earlier games in the series to Nintendo's new handheld.

Chronicles kicks off by having you select a male or female warrior around whom the story will center. Your chosen hero wanders 16th-century Japan, seeking a sense of meaning and purpose by joining up with various armies and fighting in epic battles. No sense of loyalty guides this traveler's actions; you may battle against a chieftain in one mission and even defeat him with your own hand, only to join his army a few battles later and take up arms against former allies. Between missions, your character chats with these historic personages, learning valuable life lessons before hitting the road and joining up with the next chieftain.

As you progress through the story and talk to these characters, you're occasionally given the chance to select responses in conversations, which may increase your friendship level with them. A high friendship level has benefits, like being able to bring the friend character along on any battle, but these interactions are much too simple to be compelling. The introduction of a specific character who fights in every battle and whom the story follows makes it easier to get invested in Chronicles than in earlier games in the series. However, most of the storytelling is made up of a dry historical narration with so many people, places, and events mentioned that you'd need a substantial preexisting knowledge of Japanese history to follow it.

The action takes place on vast battlefields that are populated with scattered groups of enemy soldiers who spend most of their time just milling around. These groups are comprised of mostly identical soldiers who often visibly fade in as you approach, make little effort to hinder you as you travel on foot or horseback from one objective to the next, and fall effortlessly to your attacks, if you bother to stop and fight them. Enemy officers are a bit tougher to deal with, requiring more hacks and slashes before they fall, but they aren't any more fun to fight. You can chain together normal attacks and slower, more powerful attacks, though even your normal attacks take a bit of time to execute, which makes the combat feel sluggish.

Additionally, when you've filled up a gauge to a certain point, you can perform powerful musou attacks that often involve bright bursts of energy, lending the combat a dash of much-needed visual flair while turning you into an even more effective killing machine for a moment. The generic clones you slaughter often make Chronicles as dull to look at as it is to play, and anyone who has played console games in the series will note that there aren't as many of these buffoons standing around here as is typical, which makes expanses of the battlefield eerily empty. But the officers are colorful and striking, and the way the terrain stretches off into the distance in 3D makes these areas feel vast. It also creates the sensation that you're actually covering ground as you hurry from one spot to the next.

During each battle, you can jump between your chosen hero and a few other powerful characters, but while the weapons one warrior wields may be different from those of the next, these differences don't bring any variety to the combat. It remains shallow and repetitive throughout, and when you encounter enemies you can't defeat, it's more likely the result of your characters not having leveled up enough yet to match the power of their opponents than your skill in battle. At times like this, your only recourse is to repeat earlier battles, which weren't even engaging the first time, to earn more experience and strengthen your characters. The sense of growth that accompanies gathering better items to equip, fusing weapons you collect into more powerful ones, and seeing your character's stats increase might have been rewarding if the combat all this development supports wasn't so tiresome.

Attack of the clones.

To win battles, you must fulfill victory conditions while ensuring that specified failure conditions don't come to pass. Before those victory conditions can be fulfilled, you're presented with a number of non-mission-critical objectives, which often involve defeating specific enemy officers before they reach a given location. Fulfilling these objectives improves the morale of friendly troops and makes your ultimate victory easier, while failure to do so lowers morale. You're often presented with several of these objectives within a very short span of time, and it can seem all but impossible to fulfill all of them. Choosing on the fly which to prioritize and pursue and which to ignore makes for a few pleasantly frantic moments at times. It can also create a sense that this is an actual, large-scale battle, with many small victories and defeats happening constantly. A map on the lower screen shows you where your characters are, so you always know who is in the best position to tackle a given situation, and it makes it easy to find your way around the battlefields, with arrows and markers clearly indicating the path to various objectives. Unfortunately, the combat that you must engage in to complete these objectives isn't enjoyable enough to make fulfilling the objectives satisfying for long.

Everything here comes back to shallow, repetitive hack-and-slash action that quickly grows tedious. That combat defines the Samurai Warriors experience and prevents the game's more interesting elements from shining. Chronicles also supports the 3DS's StreetPass feature, letting you put together a team of four characters to clash with other players' teams, with the outcome automatically decided. If your team emerges victorious, you receive weapons and items. You can also use StreetPass to send weapons to friends. But these options certainly aren't interesting enough to redeem this game. Devoted fans of the Samurai Warriors series will find more of the same in Chronicles; the uninitiated are better off remaining that way.

The Good
Constant flow of objectives can make battles feel urgent and lively
The Bad
Sluggish, tedious combat
Dull storytelling
Enemy soldiers look like generic clones
4.5
Poor
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3 comments
Ironfist66
Ironfist66

it's a koei warriors games this the gundam series and dynasty warrior games i think people know what they're getting into

Emil907
Emil907

This is my first Samurai Warriors (first Dynesty Warriors in general) game and I've been enjoying it a lot. I also have to disagree with several things in the review. First off, you don't need any preexisting knowledge of Japan's history to understand the exposition, as they explain things while talking about it. Second, the game play is being considered "Shallow and Repetitive", but Shooters get the best ratings on this site. Double standards? Or maybe shallow and repetitive gameplay is only acceptable when you're toting around a gun instead of a sword. Third, the argument that the enemy/allied troops all look the same is a very weak argument, as EVERY game only uses a few models for enemies. That is a given in most games. Plus, it's war. You don't have stylized armor or outfits unless you were an officer. If anything, it's accurate that they all looked the same because they were all given the same armor and they all would have been around the same build. It really feels like this reviewer was just her to complain about a game she didn't like, which will cause some fans to look away from this fantastic game. Which is really aggravating. Then again, every reviewer on this site seems to be the same way, so I guess it was to be expected.

cyraxkilawatt
cyraxkilawatt

This is why I find GS Reviews irrelevant, not that Carolyn is wrong in her view of the game as far as her personal experience goes, but that her experience will not match that of another gamers experience with the game. She clearly hated the game or went in with the intentions of hating it and may have not been the best person to review Samurai Warriors. The sad thing is that 4.5 score will keep a lot of gamers away from a quite playable and fun hack N' Slash game, this is my first Samurai Warriors game, my first game of this type in fact and I found the whole combat system refreshing and entertaining. In the end the best meter to use is the User Scores which are a sample of those who played the game or even better is to just play the game yourself, personal experience is the only thing that matters not some paid Reviewer's experience.

Samurai Warriors Chronicles More Info

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  • First Released
    • 3DS
    Samurai Warriors Chronicles brings multiple branching storylines and a living 3D battlefield to the 3DS.
    8
    Average User RatingOut of 145 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Omega Force
    Published by:
    Koei Tecmo Games
    Genres:
    Action, Beat-'Em-Up
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Alcohol Reference, Mild Language, Violence