Is that a banana in your…HOLY CRAP!
The Onechanbara series has always been a weird and peculiar one. It wears its gratuitous violence and sexual tendencies on its sleeve. It has also not been a very good game in general. The previous entries all relied on their shock factor, as opposed to crafting a fun game play experience. The latest entry in the series seems to finally be correcting those issues. The combat system is deeper, and much more refined. There is plenty to unlock and customize, and the upgrade system is kind of addictive. However, that doesn’t change what people come to Onechanbara for, and Z2 Chaos is by far the most gratuitous title in the series to date.
There is a story here, which is almost impossible to follow. Part is due to the fact that this is a sequel; a sequel to a game that never came out in the US. The other part is due to the fact that the writing is all over the place. Props to XSeed Games for making the best of a bad situation, but it all feels like a chore. There are zombies, vampire nonsense, and most importantly, scantily clad females with samurai swords and chainsaws who, for some reason, are here to stop them. It is nonsense, but in that crazy B-movie Japanese kind of way.
MSRP: $39.99 (digital) $49.99 (physical)
Price I’d Pay: $29.99
At first glance the combat seems simple. Mash on two buttons, glorious acts of violence ensue. But when the loading screen hosts 33 pages of tips and tricks, I knew there was more to it. There are four characters in the game. Some stages had me playing as two of them, while others had all four. I could swap on-the-fly with the d-pad, and even combo into character switches.
The more I played the more combos I unlocked. They all focus on the two attack buttons, but there is a lot more to it. Some of the combos are timing-based, meaning I wait a split second before executing the next move, thus changing up the combo. The blood mechanic also returns. As characters slay more and more enemies, their weapons become less effective until I tapped the L1 button to clean the blood off. On the flip side of that, the carnage can cause a transformation that makes characters much stronger at the cost of constantly diminishing life.
There are a lot of systems at play here. As I mentioned there are 33 pages of loading screen tips. There is also a practice mode, not unlike a fighting game, where I could practice combos and tactics.
The story mode is short and sweet. I finished it in about four hours, but that feels like only the beginning. The customization and amount of unlockables in the game is impressive. Tons of weapons, items, combos, and of course costumes can be unlocked. The challenge mode provides arcade-style missions based around score. The game definitely focuses on its strongest aspect; the combat.
I do wish the story mode had a bit more to it. The linear design feels limited when compared to the robust combat. Stages are chock full of invisible walls and gated combat sections that feel like spawning grounds. Most enemies don’t put up a challenge, and instead rely solely on numbers to provide difficulty. Bosses do a better job of ramping up the challenge, and some of them are super fun to fight, but most of the game relies on hordes of brain dead enemies that simply serve to spew blood everywhere.
The visuals are all over the place. The game runs at a solid frame rate, and parts of it look pretty good. Then some weird textures crop in and it looks extremely dated. The main characters are all highly detailed and look fantastic, and some of the enemy designs are downright twisted, but then the game showcases where corners were cut. I did love that I could pause the game and pan the camera around for screenshots. There are some epic moments I captured. This game is extremely high on fan service.
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is certainly unique. There isn’t much like it, both in terms of content and…well other assets. It is great to see the improvements they have made, and they clearly know what the fans of their series want. For better or worse, I mean the physical edition comes packed with a costume I can’t even post a screenshot of, it’s that bad. If you think you will like Z2 Chaos, you probably will, it is clear what this game is aiming for, but it also ends up being a pretty decent action game as well.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.