You’re an all-star.
Warriors All-Stars brings together a vast array of characters from across the Koei Tecmo back catalogue, including series such as Dynasty Warriors, Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive and even recent gem Nioh. It is, essentially, a mash-up game; undoubtedly designed to both appeal to devoted fans of Koei Tecmo IPs, and cash in on said IPs.
Overall, the game features a diverse cast featuring a whopping 30 playable characters, immediately providing a decent amount of longevity to players who want to pursue multiple combat scenarios and endings. These characters are brought together by the most tenuous of narratives: champions are summoned by royal decree to revitalise some magical spring and save…something or other.
Platforms: PS4, PC
Hack, slash and collect.
Despite the ‘story’ not really holding much more than a passing interest (in fact, I skipped most of the cut scenes), Warriors All-Stars is a game that provides instantly accessible combat. Although it’s inevitably a bit of a button-bashing affair, combat initially felt quite cathartic and satisfying. Characters can also utilise various abilities and recruit companions to enter each battle with them. Unfortunately, this dynamic soon became quite boring due to its repetitiveness and a lack of diversity in the available missions.
Whilst the combat is quite one-dimensional, Warriors All-Stars does provide players with an array of systems to get to grips with. The bravery meter allows players to assess the threat of certain enemies encountered on the battlefield. Sub-missions trigger from time to time offering new objectives to keep players on their toes. Players can build ‘friendships’ with their supporting team members, which can be developed over time.
Finally, character cards – the closest thing this game has to ‘accessories’ – can be looted throughout missions and sold or, depending on if the player has acquired the necessary materials, upgraded in such a way as to add or refine perks. Sadly, the same can’t be said for weapons or gear. This seems like an aberration considering the presence of Warriors All-Stars’ card-based system – the fact that a similar system was not applied to weapons and/or gear feels like an obvious missed opportunity.
Turn the page already.
Unfortunately, Warriors All-Stars does a pretty poor job of introducing these systems and mechanics to the player. Right away I found that mid-combat, the action would pause and information would just pop-up explaining some superfluous information which I apparently needed to know right at that moment. I found myself just skipping through these screens in order to resume my battle; at which point most of the information was largely forgotten. There is an underlying assumption throughout that everything makes sense or is introduced in a clear way at precisely the right moment. From this reviewer’s perspective, that really wasn’t the case. The end result was a disjointed and frustrating experience. I knew I probably needed to digest all of information being presented across the various screens, but the fact that they popped up mid-battle was for the most part unhelpful and it happened so frequently that it felt like overkill.
The camera angle during missions is pretty bad, and this was another source of irritation. The player can reset the camera onto the hero by pressing the L2 trigger on the PS4 Dualshock, but sometimes combat moved so quickly that the errant camera contributed to some pretty jarring gameplay moments.
Similarly, the overall presentation of the game is extremely underwhelming. The menu screens use overly-cartoony fonts which just feel a little cheap and tacky. Graphics-wise Warriors All-Stars is also pretty sub-par, particularly when it comes to missions. It feels low budget and sloppy: the game suffers from frame rate issues, and the level design is unimaginative and extremely bland. This, combined with a mission structure that quickly becomes repetitive and the lack of an appealing story, really didn’t do much to sell me on the game.
For the fans.
Warriors All-Stars does have a degree of depth when it comes to the various interrelated systems that support what is, on the surface, rather simple gameplay when it comes to actual battles. There are plenty of endings for hardcore fans to pursue, and the game is likely to reward players who take the time to understand all the underlying mechanics.
Sadly, the overall lack of polish, the game’s repetitive nature and the completely dysfunctional way in which information is presented to the player is a real let down. As a result, I don’t think Warriors All-Stars is a game that is going to win over many new fans. The combat is accessible but everything else is a bit of a chore.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.