Onechanbara Origins – PC review
Onechanbara Origins has released in the west this week after a year of being available in Japan. The team at D3 were kind enough to throw me a review code so here we go after several months of being inactive a new shiny post.
I’ll forgive you now if you have never heard of Onechanbara at all. Here in the west it has been known under a few different titles to make things confusing. Originally releasing for the PS2 back in 2004 as Zombie Zone here in the UK, It later got releases under the Onechanbara name on the PS4, Wii and Xbox-360.
Onechanbara Origin retells the stories of the first two games (with a few slight changes) in a new cel-shaded style.
Although it has been out for a while in the East, I’ll try not to spoil too much of the games story since it will be the first entry into the series for many.
Onechanbara Origin starts you out in the same place as the original 2004 game but gone are the dimly lit blurry visuals of the original cemetery and thrown at you is a vibrant lush arena of soon to be dead undead.
After looking over the grave of your dead mother, zombies rise from the ground and begin their attack on our main character Aya.
Aya is a talented swordswoman wields a massive katana, and you begin in earnest killing large swathes of undead as blood splatters fill the screen.
The combat system is vastly improved over the original game (as it should be) you have several combo’s to start and unlock more as you level up throughout the game. Dodging and Parrying attacks is key to surviving at higher difficulties you also unlock.
After going back to play the originals before this game (I haven’t fully finished admittedly) the inclusion of a fully controllable camera is a god send, allowing you to actually see enemies you want to take on.
Each hit, dodge or parry in Onechanbara Origin feels extremely satisfying to pull off and the combo moves mentioned add enough variation to the mix to keep the combat fluid throughout the stages and wave after wave of enemy.
Each perfectly timed hit creates a cool combo which progresses the combo further and further ending in a more powerful finisher.
The bosses that pepper the levels offer a nice challenge boost but can be easily overcome with parries and dodges of their attacks.
There are a number of challenges, some easy some a bit tougher, for you to complete should you wish to unlock artwork and more items that can be purchased in the shop.
These items generally give you a boost to your stats or help in some way including the ability to increase the timing window for parries and cool combo attacks.
At the end of each level you get awarded a score, experience and money. With each level up you gain you can increase each characters Strength, Defence or Health. Which makes the game that little bit easier.
Having beaten the game on Normal and Hard, I don’t think most people will struggle that much though.
Another improvement over the originals is the voice acting the Japanese audio is excellent as is the English. Although in places the pacing of the English voice lines is a bit weird.
There are even occasions where we get full character animations with mouths moving and no actual audio, which is a bit annoying. It feels like the English VA’s were not shown footage to be able to line up the translation with the cutscenes themselves
The cutscenes themselves though are well designed and break up the gameplay nicely. The story does not take itself seriously throughout but also include some nice touches that make more sense after playing through the game again.
The standard background music keeps you in the mood for wiping out zombies but can be changed with unlocked songs you get.
I quickly changed to the two vocal songs Unbreakable Trust and Broken by the Scream. Both are absolutely brilliant tracks for the game and are a perfect touch to the levels (if you set them anyway)
Onechanbara Origin itself is pretty short, in my first playthrough it took around 5 Hours from start to finish as I went through killing everything that stood in my path.
After levelling up and missing on some of the not so required enemies you can playthrough with cutscenes easily in about 2 hours. I haven’t skipped them in any playthrough as yet so I expect it will probably be closer the 1 ½ hour mark if you do.
There are 24 stages with 12 set out for each game and in the second half you play with your little sister Saki who also wields a large katana with her fists doing the talking as her secondary. Aya is also equipped with the twin katanas you pick up mid-way through the first game.
Although short, the game wills you on, the levels are short and snappy and the pleasure I got from massacring huge swathes of zombies has kept me playing beyond the end of the game.
Even more so as you unlock an endless survival mode after beating the game which pits you against further waves of enemies as well as bosses and other special characters…
If you look at the Steam store there are currently 96 DLC’s prepped for release several are DLC missions (which I want to play through) but the majority are DLC outfits.
Onechanbara Origin is a really fun game to play.
It’s short, punchy and a blast to go through multiple times for the various challenges and rewards. The voice acting is spot on and adds much needed character to the protagonists and the retelling of the story is more compelling than the originals.
The improvements to the graphics and arenas you fight in are welcome as is the change to a less realistic style. It’s a stylish and vibrant design that looks beautiful.
I just hope it means that more of this awesome series gets translated and remade.
For those interested, video playthroughs of both the Japanese voiceover and English Voiceovers are available on https://www.youtube.com/daveplaysuk
I also want to thank the team at D3 and their PR team for providing me with the code for the game!
You can buy the game over at https://store.steampowered.com/app/1232460/Onee_Chanbara_ORIGIN/