There is something about underdressed girls with sharp weapons fighting the forces of the undead that just seems to get people going. If that wasn’t the case, then how is it that Onechanbara has a long lineage of over ten games spanning from 2004 all the way up until 2015? Surely Tamsoft, the company behind the series’ development, are doing something right otherwise they wouldn’t have been given the money to continue developing additions to the series for all these years. It must be something primal within us, to want to mix sexuality with brutality…surely. Regardless, it seems to work, so I wont try to dissect it any more than I should. Instead, I should try to enjoy it for exactly what it is: A sexy gore-fest.
Mindscape Australia, in conjunction with NIS America (Europe), have recently released Onechanbara Z2: Chaos across both Australia and New Zealand, and us here at SnapThirty have been given the mighty pleasure of reviewing it thanks to said companies. It’s a title I never once thought of playing, having seen it’s predecessors in the bargain bins of video game retailers for as long as they’ve been getting release in our great country, but one that I thought I should at least try once, and what better time to start than now? I suppose, actually, I COULD have started with Onechanbara Z -Kagura-, the direct prequel to this game…but that never got released outside of Japan.
As you can expect, jumping right into a video game’s sequel without having played the initial title is, in a word; confusing. Instantly lost, I tried my best to begin understanding just what the hell this game is all about. Unfortunately, Onechanbara Z2: Chaos really didn’t give me anything to work off of, making it seem like a game with almost no story whatsoever, therefor coming across as a lacklustre excuse to show sexy girls in bikinis fighting zombies; something I assumed each and every iteration of this game was. As it turns out; the series actually does have a fairly extensive story, which would be beneficial for Z2: Chaos had I been tasked with writing a review about what I researched after finishing the game. Too bad that’s NOT what I’m doing.
Z2: Chaos begins with a brief outline of the overall backstory, detailing the two different bloodlines of which these four girls belong to respectively, and the demonic forces of which they’ve had to do battle with for quite some time. This quick synopsis of past events was so swift that I, as well as fellow editor Kane Bugeja who was playing alongside me at the time, really took nothing away from it. In fact, we couldn’t take anything away from it because it explained almost nothing. My assumption, at the time, was that I would have needed to play the first game to understand what was happening in this one, but even so, I feel as though certain games should stand on their own two feet without relying solely on a previous instalments to do all of the leg work. Mind the pun. A more detailed prologue could have saved Z2: Chaos from falling victim to a lack of storytelling, but that simply wasn’t present.
As far as playing the game goes; it’s your basic hack ‘n slash. Simple as that. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos doesn’t do anything different to separate itself from some of the more superior fast-paced action games on the market at this point in time and, occasionally, it even felt like a lighter version of, let’s say, any of the countless Warriors games Omega Force seem to enjoy developing as of late. Most, if not all, enemies can be thwarted by mindlessly mashing the Square button, and those who seem to defend well against those attacks can be slain by switching tactics, which usually involves moving your thumb from the Square button and onto the Triangle button to then do the same amount of mashing. It really isn’t too hard of a game to play, that is, until the camera decides that the perfect view for when in combat is zoomed in on the character model’s back, blinding you from the onslaught of enemies that were, mere seconds ago, in full view.
Boss enemies are usually a great deal bigger than the standard canon fodder which usually means they are a great deal harder to defeat…until you transform into half-woman half-beast hybrids that are not only ten times faster but ten times stronger than your base forms. Look, what I’m trying to say is that Onechanbara Z2: Chaos takes nothing to play, but it is kind of fun. Despite how basic the entire mechanic system is, I found myself playing for longer than I would have any other game of it’s calibre simply because it didn’t take much for me to play it. It is a possibility that this game has fallen into my lap at a time in my life wherein which all I’d like to do is sit back, listen to a podcast or two, and tap the same buttons hundreds of times, but that doesn’t make my comments any less true: Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is simple but it is also pretty enjoyable.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the game’s visuals which were mostly disappointing. While character models were smooth and well-designed, the environments of which they were placed in were reminiscent of the days of the PlayStation 2. Despite the fact that Z2: Chaos took you to various locations from all around the world, each different in their own particular ways, they all had something in common; mediocrity. Each environment simply looked flat, like there was nothing more to it than a simple two dimensional image. While that wasn’t exactly the case, obviously, that is simply how it felt. It almost seemed as though the developers put all the effort into making these girls look as seductive as possible whilst forgetting that they have ninety percent of the game left to design, quickly rushing to do so before release.
Z2: Chaos’ visuals made this game quite hard to play simply because of how populated the in-game HUD was. During any given battle, you have no less than five different gauges present, each telling you a certain number of things that were all rendered ultimately pointless seeing as the developers had to scale them down just to fit in more visuals. What is the point of having a power gauge if you can barely even see it? Enemies were thrown at you in waves that crowded the screen and, just by defending yourself against them, rendered you almost visionless due to the high amount of blood and combat visuals that were thrown across the screen while in battle. To say the very least; Onechanbara Z2: Chaos overwhelmed me with confusing and highly unnecessary visuals.
Thankfully, the game did feature a great soundtrack that, while populated mostly by hard-rock tunes, managed to feel as though what we were given was musical variety. Most of the soundtrack was made up of instrumental pieces but, at times, I was shocked by the presence of lyrics that actually matched the overall vibe of the game. As you already know, the game is all about fast-paced action, but this was made even faster by the presence of a breakneck guitar solo and some serious rock goodness. Another thing that surprised me greatly about this game was the high quality level of voice acting present throughout. You have the choice to switch between the original Japanese or English dub, but I chose to stick with the latter. The ladies that provide the voices for the main cast did an absolutely brilliant job! Even though there wasn’t much dialogue throughout the game’s story, I was always very pleased to hear the girls speak, especially because of just how likeable they were. Even though, at times, some of the dialogue was simply stupid, their interactions were mostly enjoyable.
Look, for all intents and purposes…Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is one of the weaker video game titles I’ve played as of late. It’s lacking in pretty much everything it has to offer apart from that of it’s soundtrack and voice acting but, for some reason, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself for the short bursts I played it in. Mind you, playing for longer than an hour at a time was almost mind-numbing, but experiencing it sporadically really helped me get through this game without getting too sick of it. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos really is for those of you out there who have played the rest of the series of games and have continued to enjoy it despite it’s repetitive nature. It’s also for those of you out there that really enjoy seeing mostly-naked cowgirls cover themselves in the blood of their undead enemies. While this really isn’t the game for me, I can see why it has a sizeable fanbase, but that doesn’t make it any more than a sub-standard action title in my eyes.
While it’s a great game to unwind to, it’s not one that I would focus all of my attention on. It’s a game that you play while watching a film, or your favorite YouTube channel. It doesn’t seem like one that will engulf you with it’s deep and meaningful storyline. Though, in saying that, I did play all the way through the game; something I didn’t HAVE to do, but something I did anyway. Even though it’s quite short, it’s still long enough for me to have gotten bored of and yet I stuck with it, so that truly is saying something. If you have some spare money lying around and want a game to play while you’re waiting for One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 to download, maybe Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is the game for you. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in a well-written world about defending the world against demons…maybe replay DMC: Devil May Cry.
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is now available thanks to Mindscape Australia: Click Here