Samurai Warriors 5 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 18.06.2022

Review for Samurai Warriors 5 on Nintendo Switch

Samurai Warriors 5, like Dynasty Warriors 9 before it, is a soft reboot of one of the forerunners in the musou genre. With a downscaled and more intimate scope that focuses on Nobunaga's rise to prominence, Omega Force has shown once again that the developer is no stranger to taking risks with the well-established franchises under its care. Can this new-look musou deliver where it counts?

Samurai Warriors 5 is a departure for the series in many ways. Beyond the new cel-shaded graphics - which, it must be said, are a treat to look at and a great design choice - Omega Force has sought to refresh the series with this latest entry, which forms a sort of soft reboot of the franchise.

The new graphical style is perfect for the series, not only refreshing a tired aesthetic but also allowing the title to run on the Nintendo Switch. Sadly, performance on the platform is still middling at best; textures are massively downgraded from the other console versions, and while the frame rate is mostly okay, dips are far too common, which is a no-no for the high-octane action of a musou.

The combat itself has been overhauled, resulting in an experience that requires a more measured and thoughtful approach to encounters. Blocking and dodging enemy officers' attacks has become vital, which can break up the more mindless button mashing you can get away with when scything through regular foot soldiers.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors 5 on Nintendo Switch

On the whole, Samurai Warriors 5 is mostly what is expected from a musou gameplay-wise. The genre is all about washing enemies away beneath a barrage of hyperactive attacks and, aside from the above-mentioned enemy officer encounters, this is pretty much what you are getting. There is a caveat, though, in that the title takes a big risk by offering a slow start to this formula.

It is in this slow start, which sees a low-levelled Nobunaga played for the opening few missions before gradually unlocking more characters and moves, that the developer's academic knowledge of the genre shines through. "Here, we can strip this genre back to its fundamental parts and still make a serviceable musou experience," the opening hour or so of the game seems to gloat. Sadly, this makes Samurai Warriors 5 feel overthought despite its diminished scale.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors 5 on Nintendo Switch

The story centres around Nobunaga Oda's ascension to power in Japan, as well as the duality of his relationship with Mitsuhide Akechi. Both characters have their own campaign routes which focus on their distinct perspectives of the same events. The Nobunaga of Samurai Warriors 5 is less experienced, more prone to error - but also more human and playful as a result. He is less jaded than his representation in previous Samurai Warriors entries, and it is a fresh take on a well-known character.

However, this more intimate portrayal of the core characters means the scope isn't as big as Samurai Warriors 4, nor as compelling. There's sadly no Chronicle Mode - one of SW4's highlights - with only two modes to speak of. Musou Mode is the story campaign, while Citadel Mode is a base defence-style offering where materials are acquired to upgrade various facilities across both modes. These include a blacksmith, a shop, stables and a dojo, and their level carries across both modes also. With an increased facility level comes greater upgrade potential for the mechanics that rely on them. For example, weapons can be altered at the blacksmith, horses upgraded at the stable, playable characters levelled up at the dojo… you get the idea.


This results in an interesting gameplay flow - the two modes rely on each other and it is encouraged that they are played alongside each other. This is not very practical in practice, though, as Citadel Mode is a dry and mindless experience - even by musou standards.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors 5 on Nintendo Switch

There is a simplicity about a good musou that just isn't captured in Samurai Warriors 5. There's a large cast of characters to be sure, including new and returning faces (albeit younger versions of them), but they feel redundant given that any weapon can be equipped to any character, sapping them of their individuality in combat. Aside from a handful of unique moves that each character has with their "preferred" weapon, the move list for the weapons is the same across all characters.

Samurai Warriors 5 can still be enjoyable enough in small doses. There is couch co-op to enjoy with a friend, and the ability to switch between two characters on the battlefield when playing solo adds an element of strategy which lifts it above a mindless button masher. If you were hoping that Samurai Warriors 5 is the evolution of the genre we've been waiting for, though, you may be left disappointed.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors 5 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Samurai Warriors 5 is a minimised musou that's been stripped back to its most fundamental parts. Perhaps this deconstruction was meant to revitalise interest in the genre, but it sadly leaves it feeling flat and mediocre. Omega Force hasn't forgotten how to make a musou, though; that much shines through in the combat which at times shows flickers of promise. There's just not enough to see and do here, and it becomes repetitive far too quickly. This, coupled with the fluctuating Nintendo Switch performance, makes it difficult to recommend.

Developer

Omega Force

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Brawler

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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