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Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams PlayStation 2

Published by Capcom
Developed by Capcom
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, an introduction.

Hang on a second, wasn't Onimusha: Demon Siege meant to be the last of the Onimusha series? Well apparently it wasn't although it was the end of Nobunaga, and Samanosuke is out of the picture too. However it's not the end of the evil Genma forces and once again you'll have to deal with hordes of them.  In some ways it's a new experience and in a lot of ways, it's a familiar experience but for the most part it's a great experience that fans of the series will appreciate.

What's the game about?

Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams is set fifteen years after the fall of Oda Nobunaga. After the fall of this evil warlord, in the late sixteenth century, it appears as though evil times are ahead as his successor, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, has decided to call upon the Genma forces and once again place Japan under their demonic shadow. With new enemies there is a need for new heroes and this time you'll begin with a dual broadsword wielding warrior by the name of Soki. Soki is not the only character you'll get to control in this two disk epic (there are four other playable characters including Jubei, a swordfighter, Tenkai, a spear wielding monk,  Ohatsu who is skilled with firearms and Roberto who uses his fists) that will surely please fans of the previous games.

What's good about the game?

Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams manages to retain a lot of what made the series great as well as throwing in some rather neat, new features too. The game still has those RPG qualities and you can level up weapons and abilities too. In Dawn of Dreams though the system is much better than in previous games and you can upgrade in the way you want to, by enhancing those abilities that you intend to use the most. The same refined hack 'n' slash game play is here too. Previous games in the series changed the pace of the game with some great boss battles and Dawn of Dreams is pretty much the same, with boss battles that aren't always difficult but they do always make you think and encourage you to develop differing strategies.

Dawn of Dreams has an ally system whereby you have an ally fighting with you and during a battle you can give orders to them with the directional pad. You can order them to do an all out attack, wait and recover, follow and attack or carry out their special order. You can also level up your allies and improve their items too, making them stronger and more effective in battle. You can even switch control of the characters whenever you want to, which is important given that each of the controllable characters in the game has their own unique abilities that you may wish to take advantage of. The ally system works really well and actually feels like a good addition to the Onimusha formula. There's a fair amount of unlockable content here too. There's a two player co-op mode where a second player will control your ally, there's quite a few costumes for the playable characters in the game and there are three further difficulty levels to provide a much greater challenge if you want to play through the game again.

What's not so good about the game?

Those expecting the game's story to be dramatically different from previous games will be a little disappointed that the story in Dawn of Dreams feels very familiar. There are references made to the previous games, although thankfully it doesn't really matter if you have played them or not. Those who have played previous titles in the series will feel a certain sense of déjà vu with the story but in fairness you don't really play the Onimusha games for their story.  Oddly enough you still can't jump over small obstacles that occasionally block your way. These small obstacles act as artificial barriers that prevent you from taking a certain route which does seem a little odd when in most games you'd be able to jump over them.

How does it look?

As the Onimusha series has progressed the production values have increased, with each game looking more impressive than the last. It's no surprise then that Dawn of Dreams is the best looking in the series. In fact when you compare the game to earlier titles in the Onimusha series it's amazing to see the improvements that have been made. The character models and their animations are particularly impressive and are some of the best we've seen on the console. The cutscenes, which mostly use the in-game graphics, are impressive too. The load times are fairly short, which is always a bonus on a PlayStation 2 game. Most of the time you will be able to move the camera with the right analogue stick. There are times when this isn't possible and you are confined to a fixed camera angle but this rarely causes a problem. Camera control during combat can be problematic, particularly in boss fights, if you don't lock-on to your enemy using the R1 button but for the most part it's fine.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

On loading the game for the first time I was impressed to see the opening movie was subtitled. In fact subtitles are enabled by default, which is always good to see. The subtitling in Dawn of Dreams is actually quite impressive and as a result deaf gamers will not miss out on any of the dialogue or tutorial messages. Minokichi, a strange little creature, accompanies Soki and between missions he offers some amusing dialogue and tutorial messages, which are all shown in text. Taunts that your enemies make in battles are not subtitled but this really isn't a problem and it's usually only a word or two, so it's not like you're missing anything important.

Final thoughts.

Whilst Capcom's Onimusha series probably doesn't enjoy the same levels of popularity as their Resident Evil series, it is definitely one of their most impressive series. Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams manages to maintain the series' high standards and adds some rather useful features, such as the ally system that makes it feel different. That said the game isn't a big departure from previous games and those that have played the previous Onimusha games will feel right at home with the game. All things considered Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams is a game Onimusha fans (and fans of action games in general) will enjoy. There's not a lot here that changes the Onimusha formula but seeing as that was pretty impressive to begin with, that's not really a problem.

Overall Game Rating: 8.7/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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We all moan about the amount of sequels in the game industry but when the sequels are as good as Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, there's very little room for complaint.