Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Arslan: The Warriors of Legend

I’m going to be completely honest from the outset: I’ve never heard of Arslan nor have I indulged in much Anime or Manga. However I have learned that Arslan is a Manga and Anime that is quite popular in Japan, and even though you or I may have never heard of it the game based on it is pretty damn good even, if it follows the very familiar musou game design associated with its developer.

Developed by Omega Force and out now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Arslan: The Warriors of Legend is a very familiar game for fans of Omega Force games. Arslan sees you take on thousands of enemies in hack-and-slash encounters within massive battlefields, quite a lot like the Dynasty Warriors series except visually the game is strikingly different. There is a cel-shaded look that immediately stands out even if the fidelity isn’t brilliant. Despite the smooth look to things, the outline of a lot of characters and assets are quite jaggy. This can be forgiven though thanks to the gameplay. This type of game has never felt as smooth or free-flowing as Arslan: The Warriors of Legend. This is amplified by the excellent animations on show. The flashy gameplay married with tight controls make this game such a joy to play even if the actual game design doesn’t hold up.

The game’s Story mode is surprisingly steeped in, well, story. If you’ve become accustomed to these types of games then you’ll expect some exposition, some story progression, and a pinch of personality. Because this has proper source material, Arslan’s story mode is littered in cut-scenes, story progression, and characters. It’s so deep that the main menu has an encyclopaedia to help you break down the entire world, characters, and get some proper backstory. If you are a fan of the series or even just want something with plenty of lore then Arslan has it in the arse-load. It’s quite convoluted but they’ve done their best to break down a huge series in essentially a single installment.

Outside the story, you have Free Mode which allows you to play any of the levels, as well as a few bonus ones using any of the main characters you control throughout the story. This is when things get really fun. Possibly the biggest surprise about Arslan is just how diverse and fun every character is. You have your standard melee and range choices, but there are some unique ones that add spice to the mix. There’s a character here that uses a magical paint brush to attack enemies and create traps on the ground, as well as one that uses the music coming from his lute to take out enemies. Everyone feels different but controls are kept tight, responsive, and fun.

Gameplay is quite simplistic and you complete standard missions against hundreds, and sometimes thousands of enemies. To add some depth to the core gameplay is a card system. When completing missions or even when taking out some higher ranked enemies, they may drop cards. These cards can be equipped to your character to boost your stats. Those same cards can also be synthesised to create a more power card whose stats depend on the ones you’ve synthesised together. It doesn’t add a lot but there’s something so satisfying about collecting cards and seeing numbers go up.

It’s very easy to get bored in these types of games and if you’re not a fan in the first place then chances are you won’t suddenly find love in Arslan: The Warriors of Legend. However, if you’re open to these games what you’ll find here is a solid and fun game with plenty of world-building and flashiness.

Hacking and Slashing its way to a 4/5.


 Jason Redmond

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