Apr 10, 2013

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Hakuoki: Warriors Of The Shinsengumi Review

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You might recall our review for the PSP title, Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom. Though the visual novel title had some put off by the lack of action gameplay, it was still a fun game for those who enjoy Hakuoki and the genre. We fast forward to 2013 where we see the release of Aksys Games’ latest Hakuoki title. While it does bear some similarities to its predecessor, Hakuoki: Warriors of the Shinsengumi steps away from the otome genre and gives players that action-y goodness they’ve been craving. But does it offer enough to warrant purchasing if you’re not a fan of Hakuoki?

Hakuoki: Warriors of the Shinsengumi, as well as Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, follows the same story from the original visual novels released in Japan on the PS2, PSP, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS back in 2008. Chizuru Yukimura sets out to find her father. Due to an encounter with some blood-thirsty Furies and the fact that the group is also in search of her father, Chizuru winds up having to pretend to be a boy as she stays with the Shinsengumi.

Whereas Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom put a good amount of focus on the story, it feels as if Warriors of the Shinsengumi pushed it aside or is relying heavily on players having previous knowledge of the plot. There are also two different modes you can play. One which is a basic retelling of the plot of Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, and the other allows you to forge your own path in an alternative universe. This should provide plenty of story, but it feels like they’re holding back. Don’t get me wrong. Warriors of the Shinsengumi does have a story (a good one if you’ve played Demon of the Fleeting Blossom). It’s just not all there.

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The gameplay for Warriors of the Shinsengumi is quite easy to pick up. Controls work the same no matter which character you choose. You have two attack commands that can be used to string combos with. There is the ability to hold the triangle button to power up your attack, though you might not use it much, as the regular attacks can take down just about all the enemies. Even with the different difficulty modes, the enemies are not all that tough. You will likely breeze through each mission.

Scattered throughout each map are chests that contain items that restore health, boost attack and defense for a short amount of time, and for crafting armor and accessories. Each enemy also has the chance to drop of those things. Those who don’t want to ‘farm’ enemies or maps to get materials for the accessories can purchase some via the PSN store. These accessories can give you anywhere from a small boost to a nice size one for different stats.

For a PSP title, the graphics are decent. The characters and backgrounds when you are on the map look a bit blocky. But the lack of real variety in the design for the enemies detracts from the overall look of the title. Cutscenes and animated scenes look impressive. However, this isn’t enough to make up for the other lackluster graphics. It is promising that each playable character stand out from the enemies and one another.

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A bit of warning for those who prefer their games to have English vocal tracks; you will not find that in Warriors of the Shinsengumi. This isn’t a bad thing at all, but it will mean that in order to know what’s being said, you will need to read the text. The sound effects didn’t stand out enough. It was the same grunts and cries over and over. Best to mute them in favor of the music. While I didn’t find the music to be absolutely grand, it was one of the title’s high points.

Given that you can choose from main male cast of Hakuoki to complete any mission, there would seem to be plenty of replayability and length to the game. The missions are fairly short with a few that can last over an hour at a time. With how easy it is to complete the missions, you will likely not want to use all the characters. Multiple playthroughs are encouraged, as you have to complete the game with certain characters to unlock the others.

I wanted so badly to fall in love with Warriors of the Shinsengumi like I did with Demon of the Fleeting Blossom. But I just couldn’t. Had there been just a bit more emphasis on the story or variety in the enemies and attacks, this would have been a good addition to the PSP library. As an action title, it really shows that the idea does better on paper than in practice. Unless you want to own every title released in the Hakuoki series or happen to be a die-hard fan, it might be best to pass this up for now.

Hakuoki: Warriors of the Shinsengumi
Platform: PSP
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Developer: Idea Factory
Publisher: Aksys Games
ESRB Rating: Mature
MSRP: $29.99


6.5
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About Elizabeth Burnette

Traversing the world of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Catch me on Twitter @TheLiztress and on the PS3 at The_Liztress