A blender is a utensil that most kitchens have in order to mix several ingredients together to make a smoothie. But that made me wonder what you’d achieve if you threw together swords, chainsaws, zombies, vampires, and other outlandish creatures and elements with of course, the main ingredient, scantily-clad women. The answer to this question is Oneechanbara; a series that has transcended several console generations. Developed by Tamsoft, this niche franchise boasts eleven entries, with Onechanbara Z2: Chaos being only the second to be localised, thanks to our friends at XSEED games.
As mentioned before, this game is a hack-and-slash game that celebrates female empowerment. All the protagonists are women, with Saki and Aya being familiar to those that have played the other iterations in the series. This game follows the aforementioned Aya and Saki – both of whom are sisters – who are a part of a clan called the Baneful. They are accompanied by two more sisters – going by the names of Saaya and Kagura – whom are members of the vampiric clan, and enemies to the Baneful. The game kicks-off with both sets of sisters duking it out against each other, but are interrupted by a third party, forcing them to work together.
I am a newcomer to this franchise, not having played the Wii version. Because of this, there were several elements within this story that were lost on me. I didn’t find it extremely accessible to newcomers but in the games defence, details were touched on but barely; you really had to be paying attention but of course, I was rather distracted…by the bloody fast paced combat, naturally. I found the combat in this game quite satisfying, forcing you to chain together hits and kills to achieve higher star rankings. This gave you something to chase after but it was marred by poor AI that would run off and attempt to step through walls; it’s as though they were Harry Potter fans trying to step into Platform 9 and ¾.
There is a level of minimal character development, and each sister has their own personality. Saaya is the soft-spoken character, always watching out for her sister. Saki is very guarded and doesn’t like showing off her soft interior, instead putting forth a tough demeanor. Kagura is the over-confident girl with a carefree demeanor while Aya seems to be cool-headed. The Dialogue is nothing earth-shattering but it does provide some silly antics with the sarcastic banter between the girls. It is safe to say that this video game will not win any awards for a stellar cast and the story is rather sub-par, offering little in terms of cool elements; but they are there.
The controls for this game was – no doubt in my mind – extremely responsive, implementing a tag-like feature to allow you to switch between the four characters; something that has been a franchise regular. Because the buttons were so responsive, it worked extremely well with the fast-paced combat and because I was able to flawlessly switch characters, I was able to chain together insane combos that would boost my rank in the mission. However, each positive garners a negativity and because of the poor AI, enemies would often times be trapped outside of the area boundaries, unfairly attacking you and with the amount of enemies this game throws at you, it was frustrating always dying. Seeing those girls dying was pretty heart-breaking as well; I had tissues at the ready.
Another flaw was that the tutorial that taught you new techniques and what certain abilities could do was located within the loading screens and because the Playstation 4 is a powerful machine, I found myself scrambling to learn tactics as fast as possible, which was both futile and frustrating. My other complaint is that, while this game strives on fan-service and despite the idea of female empowerment it’s trying to convey with kick-ass females, they do go overboard. I’m a straight male, but even I found the exclusive DLC costume that you get with the Banana Split edition to be over-the-top and it is not something to show a girlfriend or wife.
Despite the flaws Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is a fun experience worth having and the campaign can span about 7-10 hours. For all those completionists out there, this game does offer up several challenges that can be completed to unlock concept designs as well as gallery photos, among other goodies. Because of this, the replayability factor is there, but may only be harnessed by those hard-core gamers that must unlock every little bit. But with a weak AI, lack-luster storyline and over-done sexualisation; it hinders a game that is gratifying and a bloody good time, quite literally. Check it out if you have some extra change lying around, and can grab it for a modest piece.
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