+Offers an excellent mash-up between the Warriors franchise and previously established franchises.
+Combat feels solid and well delivered across all twelve characters
+The over-arcing story feels quite unique and well delivered
+Each character offers unique approaches to each encounter
-The game grows stale over time due to the unfortunate overuse of combat field designs
-Enemies pose no threat throughout the game, leaving difficulties worth being questioned
-Conquest mode would have been a solid addition for the title
At times, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like when some of your most absurd characters from the franchises you love cross paths. I’ve affectionately taken to such concepts thanks to the countless cross-overs we’ve seen in recent years with titles such as Capcom’s Project x Zone series and even Sony’s PlayStation All-Stars title. It’s interesting to say the least, but cross-overs sometimes have a lot of work cut out for them in order to bring together a cohesive story.
One such company that has decided to take a step in that direction just happens to be Koei Tecmo. The company is renowned for their wide array of titles that span across multiple genres of games and different eras of history. Some even being completely unique to entirely new universes and locations. But what if Koei Tecmo decided to take some of their most absurd characters and mash them into one single universe? Welcome to Warriors All-Stars.
Before you begin to facepalm at such an idea, let me make it clear, this mash-up actually comes out to such a level of quality and polish, that this isn’t a fanservice title at all. Rather, the game itself does hold together quite well, and even breaks the trend of some of Koei Tecmo’s more struggled recent-releases. But it does come with a few of its own, which we will take a look at a little later in the review.
An All-Star Cast for an All-Star Game
As this is a game all about a gigantic Koei Tecmo mash-up, we can only think about what the possibilities are. Lucky for us, they’ve taken some of their most beloved characters, tossed them in a mixing pot, and delivered some well-deserved pairings for a few good laughs. Just take note, not all these characters are standout characters. Some of them are from their more niche titles, which may have drawn in crowds from different corners of their fandom.
Characters such as William from Nioh are quite easily paired up with the Japanese ninja Ryu Hayabusa. Since both characters are quite serious, it’s only fit that they’ve paired up like-minded heroes and let them run side-by-side across a Warriors style game. However, those two aren’t the only solid mash-ups within the title. Laegrinna from the more niche title Deception has been paired up with the cat-like-demon Nobunyaga Oda, Koei Tecmo’s mascot-of-sorts.
Luckily for us, these characters seem to mesh quite well through the games random banter, which delivers home the well-written dialogue that developer Omega Force has been renowned for. Their combat styles even compliment each other quite well since they all are alike in many ways. After all, William’s a soldier-turned-samurai in Nioh while Ryu of Ninja Gaiden is a renowned ninja within the franchise. Laegrinna is the devil’s daughter and her accomplice in this title just happens to be the demon-cat Oda who compliments Laegrinna quite well.
As the game is spread out across multiple clans, 12 main characters, and a unique mid-campaign switch-out players can do, the banter becomes quite odd from-time-to-time, but offers a breath of fresh air after spending a good few hours as one single not-so-titular character. What makes this a bit more unique is the fact it uses a bond system, one that may seem familiar if you’ve played games such as Persona, Hyperdimension Neptuniai, or even dating sims such as Hatoful Boyfriend. These bonds allow you to grow relationships, emotional bonds, and even augmenting features such as team skills and statlines for you to use.
Sadly, I never once felt that these little features offered an genuine control over my game, and even left me scratching my head a few times at their importance. Unfortunately, as a Warriors game, I didn’t feel that any direct link was given to this game, nor would I receive any form of gripping dialogue, which would be thoughtfully engineered towards relationships. Luckily, this does mean it is worth playing every member of the games cast just to see where they end up and how they end up where they do.
The Games Narrative Actually Serves a Critical Role In the Game
While the Warriors franchises are known for their story, they’ve never been known to serve a strong purpose. Most of them are easy to ignore by simply skipping through the games banter and just mindlessly mowing through countless hordes of enemies. Unlike other titles Warriors All-Stars actually wants to give you a story to care about, one where cat-like humanoids pull your heroes from their respective origins, putting them against the games core villains whom are threatening these creatures “fountain” that keeps them alive.
While I did spend a good 10-15 hours with the game, I was a bit taken back when having finally chosen the main critical path, obtaining a “true ending”, which I had striven to obtain. Luckily, this also meant that the narrative that was carefully scripted served as a monumental occasion for Omega Force. It serves a boon to their legacy and shows that they’ve been thoughtfully creating such intricately designed story. My only complaint? I couldn’t get enough and would have loved to have shared my story with a friend in multiplayer.
The Overworld Structure Needs a Bit of Work
Unlike previous warriors games or even the highly-appraised Hyrule Warriors, All-Stars seems to take a but of a questionable path. One such path that I – myself – didn’t enjoy as much as previous titles under the name. In many ways, it feels that the Omega force was pushed to craft an over-world of sorts, versus a menu selection like Hyrule Warriors.
While the idea of these pin-marked missions in place, it does seem that the over-world was a second-thought out map generations. While the mission map is semi-effective, it does seemingly take away from the immersion players should feel. But the surprising thing is, the games combat systems do feel as you would imagine for a Warriors game.
While it is appreciated that their is an overworld, it would be nice to see them have followed in the steps of Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada.
Combat Remains Rather Similar to the Other Titles
Like previous titles, Warriors All-Stars remains largely unchanged, minus the fact quite a few of the titles remain rather similar to previous ones. Players should feel rather welcomed by the games combat systems. Luckily, each character seems rather well suited, featuring their own unique combat traits based upon their respective titles.
Laegrinna comes with a similar skill set, one that resonates quite well with her abilities from the game. Light attacks for her lay traps, something she does within Deception, but with the Warrior’s trademark combat systems in place, it works quite well between both her heavy and light attacks. The same goes for trademark characters like Ryu Hayabusa, whom is known for his high damage dealing quick attacks, and trade mark ninja skills.
Thanks to their hard work, many of the traits carry over quite well, allowing Ryu Hayabusa to feel just as he would within a Ninja Gaiden title. The same goes for characters across the entire franchise, allowing for Warriors All-Stars to feel like a genuine title, one that deserves a rather solid pat on the back for how unique it feels inside an already established franchise.
At the moment, however, it does seem the game has a bit more to offer were DLC characters made available.
Warriors All-Stars – PlayStation 4 and PC
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release Date: Available Now
While it’s hard to say that the Warriors franchise has been growing stale, it does come to say that Koei Tecmo is working to mix things up, and Warriors All-Stars attempts to do so rather nicely. Unfortunately, some of what they have done, does grow rather stale after getting through the game a time or two through in order to experience all the characters that are made available for players.
Even with the lack of multiplayer and Conquest modes, the game is still quite fun, and does just as you would expect. For fans of the Warriors franchises should give this one a go as the game has quite a bit to offer.
Our review is based upon a retail version we were provided by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.