Onechanbara: Z2 Chaos is the most recent release in the long-running Onechanbara series. Developed by Tamsoft, and published in the US by Xseed and Marvelous, the game puts the player in the middle of some crazy zombie-slaying action in a Chanbara style – thus the title.
Of course, that’s not the only draw of the game. Featuring four lovely ladies – Aya, Saki, Kagura, and Saaya – as the main cast of playable characters is a big draw as well. With some awesomely over-the-top character designs, super flashy moves, and some absolutely ridiculous outfits, Onechanbara Z2 Chaos has plenty of fun to offer players.
The style of the game is apparent right from the get go. Cutscenes generally aren’t shown through in-game graphics, but rather in a comic-esque panel design, following two distinct styles. First, many chapter intros and outros feature comic book-like panels as face plates for each character, as they talk their way through what’s going on. Secondly, on occasion, there will be panels that function like a motion comic, showing action in the panels during some cutscenes.
The game itself, however, comes across very much like that of a low-budget chanbara movie. While it’s clear that the focus of the game was put on two aspects (Action and Girls), the rest of the game really fails to deliver. Graphics leave plenty to be desired, especially when it comes to areas and backgrounds. The level design is just plain bad at its worst, and mediocre at best.
In fact, level design was one of the game’s worst flaws. The game is broken up into chapters, with each chapter being played out on a fairly distinct map. I’ll give the design props for that, at least – each and every locale did look different, so they were at least not overly bland. However, that couldn’t make up for the fact that each locale still progressed the same.
That is to say, every chapter in the game will have you running from point A to point B while slaying every zombie that gets in your way. However, the majority (read: all) of the fighting is done in areas that get closed off, which you are unable to leave until you kill every last enemy that spawns. Oh, and they spawn continuously, not all at once. And every single chapter progresses this way. It gets tiresome, as far as level design goes, very, very quickly.
So, despite the different look of every chapter’s locale, the feel is exactly the same. And even furthermore, the run from beginning to end is linear. There’s no reason to explore or really even any opportunity to do so, as the path is linear as well – Each chapter is just one fighting arena after the next.
Thankfully, at least, the combat is fun. I specify fun, however, because it certainly isn’t anything special. The combat system begins as a rather mindless button masher, but it does eventually become a bit more involved if you choose to try to get better at the combos and possible chains you can make. However, there aren’t any extra or special mechanics to the system, leaving it to fall just short of something that may truly stand out in its action.
Of course, series staples to the combat system return; you’ll have to flick the blood off your weapons every so often to stop them from getting too covered, and thus dulling their usefulness. The opposite is true for the four main characters – the more covered in blood they get, the closer they become to being able to enter a frenzy mode, which increases their attacks while slowly taking damage. However, neither of these add enough to the combat to pull the game out of mediocrity.
However, putting all of that aside, the combat is at least enjoyable. The combos are stylish and look great when they’re being executed, and the fighting itself is smooth. While there’s not a terrible amount of depth, you can still entertain yourself with it for a long while. There’s a number of ways to play, from continuous combos, to switching out characters on the fly, connecting long strings of attacks together – or even playing off of one another’s styles.
And then there’s the other clear focus of the game. The girls. It’s clear right from the cover that Onechanbara is heavily focused on the four main women in the game, especially with the “Banana Split” edition and its costumes.
One of the features of the game that is often cited as a big part of it is customization, which comes in the form of costumes and items that can be affixed to the character’s model. While there is a fair amount of customization in the game, it’s not as robust as I expected it to be. There are only a few costumes to unlock, with the rest coming as DLC, and there are very few different hairstyles, even counting DLC. There are a decent number of accessories though, which definitely helps.
Accessories are where the most fun is when it comes to customizing. You are able to take the item in question, pin it onto a given body part, then change its angle, pitch, size, and such, giving you plenty to play around with. Unfortunately, the customization on the four girls just isn’t enough to truly be a calling card for the game.
Ultimately, Onechanbara Z2 Chaos is just a fun game. There isn’t anything particularly notable about it, but it’s fun to play through and mess around with. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything well enough to rise out of mediocrity, despite having enough potential to do so. It just screams cheesy chanbara B movie.
OneChanbara Z2: Chaos was reviewed on PS4 using a code purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 5
- Fun combat
- Some really sweet tracks in the game’s OST
- Customization can be entertaining
- Lots and lots of blood
- Bad level design
- Repetitive chapter layouts
- Graphics are lackluster-
*** Of note: The European version is being released this month (August 2015), with NIS America and D3Publisher handling the publishing. The Australian version is coming around the same time, also handled by D3Publisher.