HomeReviewsREVIEW | Slaying Zombies Is Mindless Fun In Latest "Onechanbara"

REVIEW | Slaying Zombies Is Mindless Fun In Latest "Onechanbara"

America has gone six years without an Onechanbara game, not since the series hit the Wii and Xbox 360 simultaneously. Both had its charms, with the former showcasing some decent graphics and some fun stabby gameplay and the latter being visually superior with controls that were...let's just call it hit-or-miss. American fans who desired more of the zombie-killings with some pretty ladies needn't wait any longer, as XSEED Games has brought the latest incarnation to our shores: Onechanbara Z2: Chaos.

As this is a sequel to the Japan-only Onechanbara Z, some things about the game may confuse both fans and newcomers to this new game. (The guide during the loading screen is very helpful to get the hows and whys out of the way, though.) There is a split war going on between two clans: the Vampiric and the Baneful. In the middle of this battle are two pairs of sisters: Aya & Saki and Kagura & Saaya. In the beginning of Chaos the two sides are battling it out with one another, only to discover that their hatred was built on by a lie created by a common foe. This leads the sisters to forge an alliance, as they globe-trot from Asia to the Americas to kill zombies and put a stop to an unnerving outbreak.

Onechanbara Z2: Chaos takes its gameplay elements from the same vein as Dynasty Warriors, in which your characters will be hacking and slashing basically from start-to-finish on every level. You are given the ability to switch between the four characters at any time of the game, with the option to call upon the other three to assist whenever they're ready to do so. The more zombies you kill, the more orbs you can collect to purchase new weapons, special moves, and items that can help heal you character up during battle.

It's when the boss battles come into play when Chaos goes more into a Monster Hunter-like difficulty. On many occasions I found myself spending around 10-15 minutes just fighting bosses, as other creatures will sometimes have the habit of coming around and assisting. This is where the character assist command comes in very handy, as it takes the amount of time it takes to defeat a boss and nearly halves it. Having this ability keeps the action from getting too drawn out, especially when it comes to some of the more stronger enemies.

However this leads to one of the biggest things Onechanbara Z2 is lacking: multiplayer. As there are a lot of monsters and tough bosses to face off against, I could only imagine how much fun it would've been to get a couple of friends in the action, be it either split-screen or in online mode. Alas this is but a fluttering concept, so perhaps it'd have to wait for the next incarnation of this series.

With that being said the lack of multiplayer doesn't take away anything from what this game wishes to accomplish. It knows it's quite fan-service-y, especially with some of the questionable outfits you can put the characters in, but its combat system is pretty good. The sight of Aya using her twins blades as she knocks away a plethora of zombies with a hard slice doesn't get old, and the blood meter (where you have to watch out for your character's rage before it goes out of control) adds a sort of strategy to the gameplay. Basically when you start seeing a whole lot of red around your character, it may be time to switch them out with someone else.

Control-wise this game is light-years better than its Xbox 360 incarnation. Getting combos and tackling zombies is a lot more on-par here on the PS4, with an aiming system that can either choose your nearest opponent for you to attack or simply charge at whatever may be in your way and take them down. With that being said its camera system can sometimes be a pain, especially during boss battles. Many times I had to stop attacking so as to readjust my view, which could lead to some unwanted attacks by my enemy.

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Graphically Onechanbara Z2: Chaos can be a mixed bag. On one hand the characters all look great, all down to the tiniest of details on their outfits. In battle they move at a solid 60 frames per second, with practically no glitch to be found during gameplay. (There was one moment, though, where a gang of hopping zombies would continuously jump on my character, to the point where I had to switch her out for another before she died.) However the worlds they traverse are rather plain, with one area of a certain world looking exactly the same as the other. This was very apparent in a later level, where you are battling the undead in an office building, and each floor looked exactly the same as the other.

The main story mode can be completed in about 6-7 hours, depending on the difficulty mode you play it on. You can replay chapters to earn a better score and grade, as well as earn more orbs to purchase more unlockables. Outside of the main game are Missions, where you are to complete a certain task as quickly as possible (i.e. killing a number of zombies when your weapon's at half its bloodiness, defeating certain bosses). There are 40 missions in all, with the option to match your scores with other players from across the world.

PROS:

  • Great hack-and-slash mechanics
  • Cool upgrades, customization is finely-tuned
  • Characters look great, nicely detailed...

CONS:

  • ...worlds, though, lack the same personality
  • Camera angles can sometimes be a pain
  • Lack of multiplayer

FINAL THOUGHTS:

It's great to see Onechanbara make its return stateside, and Z2: Chaos is a fine way to grab fans new and old back into the action. While it may not be perfect by any means the adventures of Aya, Saki, Kagura, and Saaya are still enjoyable to experience via mindless zombie-killing fun with some pretty humorous banter between the characters. If you are in the need to see some badass ladies in questionable outfits tackle the undead, then Onechanbara Z2: Chaos may be just the thing you're looking for.

FINAL GRADE: 7.3 (out of ten)

PS4 review code provided by XSEED Games

Originally posted on the ESH EGMNOW page

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Contributing Editor at ESH since 2008, and host of the No Borders No Race podcast show, which began as a humble college radio program in 2006. My passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture is what drives me to give you my all in every article published and every podcast recorded.