Touken Ranbu: Online Review – Decent Sword Boys

    Title: Touken Ranbu: Online
    Developer: Nitroplus
    Release Date: April 27, 2021
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: DMM Games
    Genre: Gacha RPG

After many years of being exclusive to Japan, Touken Ranbu: Online has finally made it to the West. For those unfamiliar with the series’ plot, the year is 2205. An army of monsters is trying to alter Japanese history by killing important historical figures, causing the famous “butterfly effect.” You are sent as a saniwa, and by reviving the spirits of famous Japanese swords, your job is to prevent history from being altered. These swords just so happen to be handsome guys.

Touken Ranbu: Online can either be played from Johren’s website directly from your browser…wait…what? Yeah, that’s right. This game can be played using a browser or from an Android device. Sadly, iPhone users are essentially left out because you can only obtain the file to download the mobile version from Johren’s website. Apple doesn’t really do well with sideloading apps outside of the App Store.

I suggest you keep your expectations within reason when it comes to graphics and the UI interface, though, due to the game’s HTML5 nature.

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In the Sortie, you dispatch your swords to different time periods of Japan’s history eras and defeat enemies. During battles, a key element comes into play: Formations. Depending on how the enemy’s formed, your formation can be the do-or-die element of the battle. A bad formation might result in enemies dealing more damage to your swords than usual, and in this game, HP is a stat you have to pay attention to very carefully.

You see, if a sword’s HP gets to 0, they are destroyed permanently. That shiny sword is no more. If that sounds familiar to Fire Emblem’s Classic Mode, then yes, that’s the same idea. Except resetting a mission to try again isn’t a thing you can do. The only way to ensure the Sword does not get destroyed is to equip them with charms that will prevent their HP from reaching 0 or by constantly making sure to Repair them after the Sortie, so their HP doesn’t reach 0.

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As you go through the eras, you’ll run into some forks on the path, which are randomly decided at the toss of a dice. Yeah, that means you might have to play the same stage, again and again, to get everything in it.

You can also send your Swords to survey the eras, which will net you some precious resources. Later, the game introduces the Forge, where you can obtain new allies that are forged from the blacksmith. Basically, the game’s gacha. Some might say “but it’s not a gacha” but anything that involves luck is gacha, no matter how you slice it.

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There are four different resources: Charcoal, Steel, Coolant, and Whetstones. You allocate an additional amount for each of the four, and then the Forging process begins. The process can take from just 30 minutes to even 6 hours. However, longer times might mean rarer swords.

You can also use Ofuda tickets to increase your chances of a rare sword being forged and Helper Tickets to finish the Forging process instantly. One thing to note, however…the game does not disclose AT ALL the percentage rates for each sword.

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Unless you go on full trial-and-error, it isn’t straightforward for you to know just how much you need to allocate for a specific sword. To make matters worse, there’s a particular amount of resources you must spend on each type of sword. I ended up researching recipes from fan pages containing common allotments for each resource to try to get some rare swords. This is because once you run out of Request Tickets, that’s it. You either buy more from the Shop or begin grinding for more on Sorties.

There is also the Repair section, where you will leave up to 2 of your swords to restore their HP. Swords in Repair cannot be dispatched to Sorties and cannot complete Tasks. The rarer the sword, the longer it takes to repair it. So, for example, if you have a Rarity-3 sword, you could be looking at several hours of Repairs if the damage gets bad enough.

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The Shop is where you’ll make most in-app purchases. To do this, you’ll need Credits. And the only way to get said Credits is by buying them through Johren’s website.

While there are many resources you could buy, they are all pretty expensive, ranging from 300 credits to even 9800 credits. (which is approximately 3 dollars to 98 dollars). Unless you grind resources in the Sorties, you’ll be looking at a lack of them pretty quickly.

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Touken Ranbu: Online is a decent game, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of unique elements that set it apart from anything you’re probably playing right now. Given its 2015 Adobe Flash origin, you can forgive it for its dated UI, but its strange installation and pay structure makes the experience more frustrating than enjoyable. But hey, at least we have the anime adaptation.

Review copy purchased by outlet or reviewer

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