PlayStation 4
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Game Info:

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada
Developed by: Koei Tecmo
Published by: Koei Tecmo
Available on: PS4, Windows
Release date: May 23, 2017
Genre: Hack and Slash
Number of players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Teen for violence and mild suggestive themes
Price: $49.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you Koei Tecmo for sending us this game to review!

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada combines the tried and true hack and slash gameplay with the historic conquests of one of Japan’s greatest samurai, Yukimura Sanada. Before diving into his forty-eight year lifespan, you get to know his father Masayuki who was a threat on the battlefield with his fighting and off the battlefield for his strategizing. The allegiance of the Sanada clan has decided the fate of many wars, but those who had them in their service knew that their loyalty was fickle and could change with the tides of war.

In total, there are sixteen chapters and an epilogue that can be played after the credits roll. I completed this game in under thirty hours and enjoyed most of my time re-enacting Japan’s 16th and 17th century battles. Each chapter will have a few battles and some story progression. Some of the battles are standalone while others are linked together. Completing objectives in one battle will open up possibilities for future ones.

Besides storyline battles, later in the game you’ll come across secondary battles that tell the story of non-Sanada characters. These battles are not mandatory, but are still fun to play regardless. Most of the battles are won by weakening enemy morale through slaughtering them by the dozens and taking out their generals in the process. Morale can be further lowered by eliminating flag bearers and seizing control of their barracks. To clinch the battle, boss or bosses must be defeated within the time limit while sustaining minimal losses in your army.

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada
Highlights:

Strong Points: Great character development and fun battles; the exploration, farming, and fishing activities are relaxing 
Weak Points: Additional weapon sets are available through DLC; the stealth missions and time based objectives are annoying
Moral Warnings: Lots of war violence though not much blood is shown; some female characters dress provocatively; minor language (d*mn); rejecting authority figures

There are some tactical battles where you have to lure generals to a specific point and escape in a short amount of time. My least favorite type of battles are stealth ones where you have to avoid patrol officers and work around their patrol pattern. Some of the sneaking battles are because you're disobeying an order from the Shogun. All of the battles have objectives that have to be met in order to secure a victory. Failure to do so will result in defeat, but any experience and levels earned will be kept.

Outside of the battlefield, you can visit towns/castles to train various characters, befriend them with gifts, go fishing, plant crops, or make an offering to a Jizou statue. Townsfolk can give you quests that can be completed by exploring nearby areas. Exploring is a great way to acquire various items for upgrading your weapons at the blacksmith or making medicine in town. Once items are discovered, they will be available for purchase by merchants. If you befriend an NPC, they can accompany you while you explore. With conch shells you can unlock characters from previous game entries or ones that pass away in this title to go on exploration adventures with you.

At the stables you can purchase various horses to ride into battle. Whatever horse or panda you buy will be available for partners to use as well. The same goes for any battle accessories you acquire and wear too. Be sure to visit the blacksmith often to upgrade the weapons your favorite characters use. With the proper ingredients you can boost their attack and range, as well as offer elemental damage like fire, Ice, lightning and so on. Later in the game you can duplicate a weapon and re-spec it with more slots to customize while carrying over the previous attributes.

The different characters you can control have unique weapons and fighting styles. For example, the ninjas will have hyper (fast) attacks while there are some characters with powerful (but slower) or skill based attacks. The Sanadas have normal attacks which work pretty well as long as their weapons are upgraded. After winning a chain of battles, experience is awarded which can be used to quickly level up specific characters without having to take them on exploration trips or in battle. Be sure to upgrade their rage levels when the option to do so is available.

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 73%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 7/10
Sexual Content - 8.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

In town, you can talk to various people and some of them will reward you with strategems for doing so. Strategems can also be earned in battle by completing goals like winning before a certain time or by taking out a boss with a special ability. Up to six strategems can be held at any given time. Most battles allow for you to spend strategem coins to gain advantages that make the battles a bit easier. For example, one battle required me to locate someone within five minutes. I failed the first time without using the stratagem. However, after spending a stratagem to have her blow a whistle, the battle was victorious and much less stressful.

While there were some unpleasant battles, a majority of them were enjoyable. The ability to knock over people like dominoes on horseback never gets old. The smacking noises, background music, and Japanese voice acting is all well done. I got the battle music stuck in my head on occasion too.

Visually this game is pretty good. The characters are nicely detailed though the females and some other characters don’t seem to age at all. Masayuki and Yukimura’s wives are never shown and represented in this game. Nobuyuki Sanada’s arranged marriage is the closest you’ll come to love and romance in this title. Many of the characters seem to walk around in extravagant outfits 24/7. One of the female characters is known for being a femme fatale and wears a seductive outfit to match per personality.

The Sanada’s emblem of six coins represent the coins needed for safe passage in the afterlife on the river Sanzu. Offerings to the Jizou statue are optional and by doing so you have an option to get upgraded items if you win a three shell game. Though there is a lot of violence and death in this game, there is very little blood. My kids enjoyed watching this game and with the ability to KO fifty soldiers with one swing of my sword, I have to admit that it is quite entertaining to watch.

Overall, Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada is well worth the price of admission with its fun battle system and good story telling. If you enjoyed previous Samurai Warriors games then you’ll find a lot to like here as well. I have seen this game for less than $30 on Amazon and it’s definitely worth picking up if you enjoy hack and slash games.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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