Review: Arslan: The Warriors of Legend
After exploring a multitude of different worlds, Tecmo Koei and Omega Force are now interested in ancient Persia, with Arslan: Warriors of Legend, a Musou style beat’em-all title, inspired by the latest adaptation of the Arslan Chronicles universe, a Japanese heroic fantasy novel.
If you are reading this review, you’re probably a Musou fan, and you’ll know that this is not the first time that Omega Force and Tecmo Koei based their games on actual stories (such as Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors). If the gaming style had been explored with other range like Hyrule Warriors and the friendly Dragon Quest Heroes (reviewed back in October 2015), the two studios are truly the “Musou” kings, so it’s no surprise after even Gundam that Arslan would be forgotten.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan is a Manga by Hiromu Arakawa, known worldwide for FullMetal Alchemist. But the history of Arslan (Arslan Senki) is above all a series of 14 novels born from the pen of the author Yoshiki Tanaka back in 1986, which tells the story of Arslan, a young prince, heir to the kingdom of Parse. His father, the dark (and arrogant) Andragoras is defeated by the Lusitanian armies in the plain of Atropathènes, and the gentle prince Arslan (who has the opposite character of his father) with the help of many heroes will have to command an army and retake the throne. Anyway, if you’re really into these stories, the manga and animated series is out already, or you can just buy the the game itself.
As a videogame, Arslan: The Warriors of Legend offers different modes that are the ever classics of the Musou genre. Thus, the story mode will help you relive the journeys of our heroes, the free mode will allow you to replay any part of the story mode with another character, and the usual multiplayer mode gives you the chance to play story free mode with another player.
At first sights, Arslan: The Warriors of Legend falls in something very visually different than anything Omega Force and Tecmo Koei ever did. If you are used to the muscular and sharp models of Dynasty Warriors, Arslan: The Warriors of Legend is painted in cel-shading mode, closer to the visual aspect of an anime or other games such that Ni no kuni, Gravity Rush or even the original Jet Set Radio. Each chapter of the story mode is built in the same way, starting with a lengthy cutscene which are split in two: directly inspired by the anime; the other produced by the in-game engine. These latter are smoother and even the original Japanese voices are intact, with subtitles available in English, but not many other languages.
If cutscenes are great to look at, the player will finds himself lost with everything else. While the attention to details given to the main characters is great, the rest of the armies, soldiers, environments are tirelessly scares of details, which is the case sometimes in the studio’s other productions. Thus, the player is stuck between two ends of the visual spectrum: on one hand the successful design of the protagonists and antagonists. On the other, the lack of visual finishes. The camera system as well poses some problems, with no possibility to lock to enemies, which can be really crazy annoying during boss fights, in the midst of musou armies.
Nevertheless, no one other than Omega Force could’ve express the what makes the Arslan stories and anime series a success: massive battles. That’s where the use of the rest of your army comes in place, and the deployment of “Mardan Rush”. The player must rely on Mardān Rushes to unlock the “Finish Area” –a designated section of the map which only appears during these attacks– to proceed with stages.
If cutscenes are great to look at, the player will finds himself lost with everything else
Moreover, contrary to what was done in Samurai Warriors 4, and even in the recent Dragon Quest Heroes, you cannot control numerous character at the same time during a mission, but one at a time. Yet, the story makes sure to switch the player to another character, with flashbacks, making sure to toss you into interesting battle and continues to immerse the player in Arslan’s history.
One of the novelties of this gameplay remains the “skills cards,” cards that you collect throughout the story. Their role is to enhance the characteristics of your characters. In addition to picking them up, you can either sell or merge cards with hope to gamble for a better and higher ranking card.
Arslan: The Warriors of Legend was reviewed using an Xbox One copy of the game provided by Tecmo Koei. The game is also available on PlayStation 4, as well as on PlayStation 3 in digital release. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• Cel-shaded graphics
• Greatly done cutscenes
• The Mardan Rush
• Love the cutscenes, but they can be really long
• Visually not that amazing
• Camera angles
• Like most Musou titles: Repetition