A zombie hack and slash game where you play as a bikini-clad anime girl? Sure, why not. That’s the premise behind Onee Chanbara ORIGIN, a remake of the first two games in the series that were originally PlayStation 2 titles. Given that I like the Senran Kagura games (which come from the same developers), I had to give this one a look.
Surprisingly nice combat. I will admit, going into this game I was not expecting the combat to be any more complex than a two-button hack and slash. As such, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there’s actually a good bit of depth to the combat. You of course have your two-button main moves, but there’s also special combos gained from timing your button inputs, two different upgraded attack forms, and even a reload mechanic by way of wiping blood off of your sword. Then you’ve got character swapping mid-combo, finishing moves, and all the usuals like parries, dodges, counters, etc.
It’s definitely not the most complex I’ve seen from the genre, but this is some pretty good stuff here. Granted, with one major downside that I will get into shortly.
Repetitive game design. This is a hack and slash game that somehow has less variety than that of a Musou game. Every single mission either has you taking down a boss or defeating a wave of enemies before proceeding to the next room with another wave of enemies and repeat until the end. What makes it worse is that there are like six enemy types total and they are all handled in the exact same manner. You can take advantage of the more complex combat mechanics, but for the most part, you can simply mash the attack and dodge buttons and be set for every single enemy in the game.
The level design is equally awful. For the most part, it’s copy-pasted areas that you repeat for a few missions before moving onto the next, with little differentiating between them. Sometimes the game even has you go through the exact same route that you just took in a level, but in reverse. Sure, it’s an easy way to pad the game’s length, but is it fun? Not really.
Extreme lack of substance. It took me all of four hours to get through the main story. My first thought upon finishing was: is this really it? I mean, I have no problems with shorter games, but when that short experience is full of repetitive combat sequences, boring level design, and very little enemy variety, it honestly just comes off as cheap. And this is coming from a game that has a $75 USD deluxe edition and 96 different DLC to it.
I don’t normally mention price in my reviews, but this is such a slap in the face that I had to bring it up. I mean, sure, there are bonus missions to do outside of the main story, but those repeat the exact same problems that that main story has, just without the story element (although that element was pretty limited already). Coming from the developers that do the Senran Kagura games, this is a massive disappointment.
Broken port. This game marks the first time in years that I had to go digging through my graphics card control panel and change around settings just to get it to work properly. Without doing so, the game simply doesn’t go past 20 fps and has some really bad audio stutters. Looking at the Steam discussions and reviews show that this is a very common issue, one that has yet to be addressed despite the game being out now for almost two months.
I mean, messing with my NVIDIA settings did fix the fps and stuttering, but I shouldn’t need to diagnose such an issue, let alone fix it using obscure settings outside of the game. And even after it was fixed, I still ran into a crash and the occasional odd flickering issue or two while playing. The game at least looks fine (albeit, unfortunately locked at 60 fps), but this is 100% something that needs to be patched. This, combined with the fact that people are reporting save-corrupting bugs even on the latest version, is enough to warrant waiting until patches.
To sum it up, Onee Chanbara ORIGIN is a bit of a mess. It’s a premium-priced game with next to nothing in content and numerous technical issues to boot. Sure, the combat has a decent amount of depth to it, but that’s it. You get copy-pasted levels, the same handful of enemies to fight, and a story that runs about 4-5 hours and you’ve pretty much seen everything the game has to offer. Yes, this is a remake of two old games and likely wasn’t changed much, but that’s just making excuses at this point. Definitely give it a pass unless if you catch it on deep sale.
Quote: Onee Chanbara ORIGIN is a bit of a mess. It’s a premium-priced game with next to nothing in content and numerous technical issues to boot. Unfortunately, its combat is all it has going for it.
You can buy Onee Chanbara ORIGIN on Steam here. It is also available on PS4.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.