By Benny Carrillo / June 17th, 2015
If there’s one thing I can say about my experience at E3 so far, it’s that it’s forced me to experience some games I might not normally play, and then ask myself why I haven’t even had these games on my radar in the first place. While I’ve certainly heard of the Onechanbara series, I’ve never played any of the games in the franchise. However, that changed yesterday when I was able to get my hands on Onechanbara ZII: Chaos, and I have to say I’m very interested in what this game has to offer.
The story revolves around two pairs of sisters who, despite apparently being enemies in the previous game, now are forced to work together to fight against an enemy that would attempt to take over the world using zombies. Of course, the only solution to dealing with said zombies is to get up close and personal in a fanservice-filled hack-and-slash adventure that’s actually quite fun and challenging at the same time. Also, two of the characters are vampires that can power up through the use of zombie blood. Yeah, this game is crazy, but in all the right ways.
The portion of the demo I played was a rather challenging boss fight, done in mission mode, against two very tough zombie bosses and their zombie minions that were just milling about to provide backup to the bosses. At my disposal I had four characters who could be swapped out by pressing either up or down on the D-pad to switch to the next character. Every character has two weapons that can be switched between to help you combat your foes, and you’ll need to do just that to keep yourself alive. You also however, need to keep a close eye on your weapon icons which are located on the left side of the screen. If they become too dirtied with blood, you’ll need to clean them off using the L1 button, otherwise you might as well be cutting with a dull knife. In addition, you can also switch to another character when one is injured to them regain a portion of their health. It’s similar to swapping out a partner in, say, Marvel vs Capcom. This is essential to staying alive, but it also forces you to swap out characters and learn each of them, which keeps things fresh. However, you can also use this to your advantage by swapping characters in mid-combo to extend that combo and do even more damage. Also at your disposal is the “Cross Merge Combination,” which, by pressing the touch pad, allows you have all four characters on the field at once. The AI will control the other three characters, though you can freely switch between any of them. Be wary, though, as that also means any of those characters are susceptible to damage and can be knocked out. If you’d rather stick to switching out one character at a time, though, you can whip out an “Ecstasy Combo” instead, should you be able to chain enough attacks together to fill up one of three gauges above your character’s health bar. These are basically your super moves and can often turn the tide of a battle if used well. However, the meter will start to drain if you’re not fighting or break your combo, so flawless fighting is key here. In addition, some characters have multiple Ecstasy Combo’s which can be switched by pressing left or right on the D-Pad.
However, don’t think you can just button mash your way to victory. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of a beatdown that will leave one of your four characters low on health and you scrambling to switch to a fresh one. This adds to the frantic nature of the gameplay, however, as it’s a constant battle of managing health, comboing, and learning how to dodge attacks. They key to staying alive, though, is learning to time your dodges with the R2 button which, if done with just the right timing, will cause a small bullet-time effect as you gracefully dodge the enemies incoming attack. After that, just make sure you’re locked onto your target with the R1 button and go to town. The reward for accomplishing all this, though, is well worth it.
Once you whittle down a boss’s health enough, a two-button prompt of Square and X will appear above the enemy. Press both buttons simultaneously and you’ll enter a quick-time event where you need to swipe across the touch pad in various directions to dismember and kill your enemy. This, to me, was one of the neatest features of the demo, and the touch pad itself felt smooth and responsive — I never had any problems inputting the swipes, and, a few moments later, one boss was down and the other shortly followed, thankfully with no casualties to the party, though it was close. A second attempt later on, sadly, did not go as smoothly, as a surprise second boss for a different mission made its appearance, and I was already too low on health to survive. However, even in defeat, I can say the game felt good and played fair. I never felt cheated or that the game was being cheap, and, once I had a good rhythm with the dodges going, I was actually doing rather well. Once quick thing of note is that, during the story mode, there will be times where you’ll only have access to two characters at a time, so extra caution should be taken in those situations, I’d imagine.
Regarding the technicals, I didn’t notice any slowdown, even with 15-20 enemies on the screen. Which is a good thing, considering how crazy the action gets. Due to being in one of the main halls, I couldn’t get a good grasp of the audio design, but nothing negative stood out to me. However, this will be the first Onechanbara to have an English voice dub available in addition to the original Japanese vocal track, so, for those of you who enjoy dubs, like myself, it’s something interesting to look forward to.
To sum it all up, it’s one of those quirky titles that I love. While you might come for the lovely ladies in their bikinis, you’ll quickly find a game that has a rather good balance between its over-the-top nature and its challenge. If you’re looking for a sexy hack-and-slash zombie adventure, then take a look at Onechanbara ZII: Chaos when it releases later this summer.
E3 2015Onechanbara Z2: ChaosOneechanbaraoprainfall @ E3 2015XSEED Games