Onimusha Tactics is a turn-based strategy game very similar to Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre series of games. The game has a similar basic structure. Each character has a certain amount of spaces they can move, some more than others. The good guys always go first, and then the bad guys go again in the same round. You gain a level after 100 experience points. There's only a few weapons types in the game, there's a sword, throwing knife or star, a gun, spear, or club. There's only three types of armor with a vest, robe and a gi that the Ninja's only wear. There's a ton of different accessories to equip including a guantlet, helmet, wrist bands, etc. While there isn't many things to equip in this game, they try to cure that with the "Spirit Points" Onimusha gets after someone kills a monster. These points accumilate in levels and you can eventually use these points to upgrade your weapons or armor. Sometimes when you upgrade you can learn new attacks aswell. There's no shops in the game, so the game makes you rely on Onimusha to make items for you. Onimusha has a special band that can fuse stones and turn them into items. You randomly get stones for killing monsters. You use these stones to fuse items after you get the recipe for the weapon, item, assessory or item. Everyone has about a max of 4 special or magic attacks. These attacks are range from blunt attacks, healing magic, magic attack, spear thrusts, or throwing. There isn't a big variety in the special attacks like Final Fantasy Tactics had. You gain new special attacks by leveling your character up or upgrading your weapons. A few things bugged me about the battle system though. The biggest was you couldn't sneak up behind or beside an enemy and blindside them. You couldn't get a more powerful attack if you're higher than your enemy, sometimes you couldn't even attack them from above or below. About 99% of the levels all have the same requirements or objectives (Kill all monsters, keep Onimusha alive). If anyone other than Onimusha dies on screen then they disappear and that's it. You'll never have to worry about any of these characters disappearing forever like you would in a game like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics. They'll be back in the next fight, the only "pentalty" is they round off your experience points back to zero. This makes the game really easy, all you have to do is send in a first wave of nobodies and just keep healing them with your healer. The game rarely gets difficult.
----------Characters / Story----------
This is my first Onimusha game, so I pretty much felt lost. There was a ton of crap I just didn't understand. The characters weren't very impressive either. Once they joined you, for the most part half of them become useless and never have dialog again. The characters names are so Japanese it hurts. The game had a formula set. The chapter begins with an intro, the title of the chapter, dialog from the characters that matter within the chapter, you fight your battle, then the ending dialog. This happens every chapter. This got OLD and it felt contrived and rushed. There's a few funny moments in the game like the guy that constantly is looking for naked chicks, or the two guys getting ambushed while peeing on a bush. Other than that the dialog is very bland and confusing.
----------Graphics / Sound----------
The characters looked great, the spells were interesting. The world map is ugly and almost pointless. The stages looked randomly created. There was barely any difference between them at all. When a character would equip a new weapon it would show up on his hand during battle. In the dialog scenes the characters move around with alot of emotion and there might be some effects happening around them like rain. There are some cutscenes in the game that mostly consist of a still picture and small cgi sprites moves about. The music was repetitive, but I liked most of the sound effects.
I really liked the style of the graphics, so they weren't technically bad, but there isn't much content in the game and the whole project felt rushed.
The World map is one screen with a bunch of dots across it. The only problem is you can't re-trace your steps or go back to old levels, once a level is finished its DONE. You get three options on the world map, "Start", "Save / Load" and "Phantom Realm". Since this linear game has no random encounters to level up, they have the Phantom Realm to keep you occupied. The Phantom Realm is the only sidequest in the game, it's basically the same stage but 16 of them with gradually harder enemies each floor. Each time you defeat one of the four Genma Lords you unlock a new set of stairs, so you can't climb the Phantom Realm all the way until towards the end of the game. You can leave the Phantom Realm at any time during battle though. Since there's only three options in the game, one of them is not an inventory or status screen. You can't set your characters skills, weapons or anything until you start a level. This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in a game. ----------Time to Complete Game (first run through, save after credits)----------
After you beat the game it warps you to the last stage so you can replay again or to play the Phantom Realm again.