Touken Ranbu Warriors Review – A Crash Course on Sengoku Period History

    Title: Touken Ranbu Warriors
    Developer: Omega Force, Ruby Party
    Release Date: May 24, 2022
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Koei Tecmo
    Genre: Musou

I’ll be honest: When I saw that Touken Ranbu was going to be inspiring a Warriors game, I honestly thought to myself: “How would that even work!?” Because we’re talking of a josei-muke game mixed with a type least associated with the genre, and that is musou, one that is often more closely associated with the shounen genre. Not only that, but this title also marks the first time that Ruby Party and Omega Force, two of Koei Tecmo’s greatest studios, come together, so of course, my curiosity was instantly piqued with what sort of mix-up would that result in: good or bad.

In case you aren’t familiar, Touken Ranbu is a multimedia franchise about beautiful blade boys based on historical blades created by DMM Games and Nitro Plus. In Touken Ranbu Warriors, the blade boys must help correct all of the anomalies that suddenly started appearing in a specific era of Japan, the Sengoku Era, which historically spanned between the years of 1467 and 1615.

While the story is really engaging with each and every event that composed the era, I feel that if the story tackled multiple eras at once, it would’ve added hundreds of hours of gameplay, because since you’re jumping between different eras, you wouldn’t know what to expect. We are, however, greeted by a new and completely original character known as Omokage, whose mysterious backstory does add an element of uniqueness to the main story, which is really nice.

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When talking about the combat, Touken Ranbu Warriors might seem like your typical musou game, where you defeat hordes of enemies, but sometimes, the missions have you think outside the box for a second, or you will end up mowing thousands of enemies without truly completing your objective, or defeating the wrong captain or commanding base. Very often, Konnosuke won’t be able to guide you, due to the lack of information that is provided to you at the beginning. And since you’re here defend history, not correct it, you must do whatever possible to not skew the timeline too much yourself, and that includes paying attention to the battlefield dialogue to make sure history is flowing as it should.

After each battle, you’ll return to the Honmaru, which is your main UI hub, where you’ll unlock new abilities for your Touken Danshi, as well as purchase items that will assist you in combat when equipped. You can also assign different Touken Danshi to each of the five rooms, and have them earn a little bit of EXP. From time to time, you’ll also trigger a fun little minigame that will give you rewards such as materials. This is a nice change of pace from the combat, since the minigames are all very fun once you get the hang of them.

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At the Honmaru, you can also play any past scenarios you’ve cleared from the main story, allowing you to get materials and Koban to upgrade your Touken Danshi. This is definitely a positive because though the minigames do give you resources, it’s still not nearly enough for what the Onslaught Investigations are capable of giving in one fell swoop. But still, they’re a very nice bonus, especially the Crop minigame, which can give you upwards of 100 of each material in a matter of 30 seconds. Touken Danshi that are together in the same corner of the Honmaru, or the ones you pair together on Onslaught Investigations (both Sortie and Replay) can also accumulate bond EXP, which can trigger some rather quirky conversations.

On that note, let’s talk about localization! Because once again, the citadel is just called “honmaru”…yay. Yeah, I know… “Honmaru” was the official term coined on the browser game’s English version. But while I hate to knock on this factoid once more: many other previous media adaptations’ English subtitles already had proper terms for various Japanese terms, such as “citadel” for “honmaru” and “Touken Danshi” as “Sword Warriors”. While I guess the literal romaji terms do stay true to the “Japanese ambiance” of the series, I kind of had hopes that the localization team at Koei Tecmo would reverse that ill-fated trend, but oh well.

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In an interview we’ve conducted previously, the developers have mentioned multiple times that they’ve added countless options that will allow for even newbie players to the Musou genre or the Touken Ranbu IP to enjoy themselves. The first of those additions is Easy Mode, which greatly simplifies your attack buttons. Normally, you’d press the buttons in order, but when this is enabled, the switch between those actions is done automatically with just a quick mash of the Y Button. It is a very good addition, but it’s kind of overhyped, to be honest.

Even as someone who hasn’t played a lot of Musou games in the past few months, I found that Normal Mode merely comes down to getting used to properly timing out your attack combos, or knowing when to use your special attacks, which is something that didn’t take me too much time to learn, especially considering that there’s no cooldown other than the animation. The auto-lock on was also a very welcome addition at first, but then as the game progressed, it sometimes jerked up the camera controls, aiming at enemies I wasn’t supposed to kill.

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Touken Ranbu Warriors manages to blend the josei-muke and Musou genres nicely, though the whole “easy mode controls” were a tad overhyped if anything. Plus, the story might feel a bit limiting due to the strict stay in the Sengoku period.

Still, the balance between fun interactions with the Touken Danshi combined with the easy-to-understand Musou combat all adds up to a really nice experience, if you were looking to immerse yourself into this Sengoku Period history from an interesting perspective. If you’re a Japanese history nerd who also enjoys Musou games that definitely have you think outside the box, definitely give this one a try!

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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