This conclusion to the long-running series of action adventure games features a vastly improved gameplay, more polished graphics and fast-pace combats.
The main heroes of the Onimusha series always had to accomplish the same thing: defeat evil Nobunaga Oda. Onimusha 3 has the same premise but it manages to tell the story more consistently and convincingly. The game is the conclusion to the long-running trilogy and it features some really interesting elements like a vastly improved gameplay, more polished graphics, fast-pace action and some really amusing time-twisting puzzles. The plot is really engaging and fans of the series will probably love it, mainly because it follows the adventures of two dissimilar character: Samanosuke Akechi and Jacques Blanc, the latter being voiced by French actor Jean Reno.
The story takes place 9 years after Jubei defeated Lord Nobunaga (Onimusha 2), the evil creature has once again returned to our world and it’s your duty to defeat him and thousands of other demons. You control Samanosuke Akechi, the warrior from the first Onimusha, but what’s interesting is that the game includes two parallel plotlines, so apart from Samanosuke you can also play as French commando Jaques Blanc. The main settings are 1582 Japan and 2004 Paris, France, and the latter stands out more because it’s very different to what we are used to in the series and Paris is really well designed and detailed. Also, you’ll have the chance to visit various well-known places like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and more. Apart from that and as all the other games in the series, Onimusha 3 starts out with one of the most breathtaking CGI sequences to ever grace the PS2, this short video introduction is simply amazing and really well-delivered.
When Onimusha 3 begins Samanosuke is fighting an army of demons in feudal Japan, but for some unexpected reason he materializes in Paris, where many monsters appear and start killing everyone in sight. Jacques survives the first wave of attacks and he exchanges places with Samanosuke, so he’s sent to medieval Japan. Both characters are granted special gauntlets which allow them to capture souls to restore their health, gain magic powers and so on. Another important character is Ako, a little fairy who conveniently aids our heroes on their difficult quest to find a way back to their respective timelines.
At first, the story feels really strong and engaging, but eventually it starts using clichés and stereotypes of the genre. For example, Jacques keeps bringing up the fact that he’s worried about the relationship between his son and his beautiful Fiancée. Almost every single thing about the topic is predictable and ultimately unimportant. In addition to this, Ako is supposed to be the funny character, but she’s simply irritating, as a consequence, her jokes feel forced and aren’t well-delivered at all.
This is a shame because the game could have been much more original and it had the potential to be more unique, especially taking into account that it features some really interesting mechanics. One of the most prominent ones is the interaction between timelines, as Ako allows you to transfer certain items of your inventories between the parallel lines and this is really helpful to solve puzzles. This isn’t exactly new, Day of the Tentacle was probably the first game that used such a complex and appealing device, but still it’s nice to see it in a more action oriented game. Puzzles aren’t really that difficult, but most of the times they require you to backtrack a little bit. This isn’t so bad, mainly because you have the opportunity of collecting more souls to enhance your weapons or to restore magic to use powerful spells.
Like in any other game in the series, in Onimusha 3 you can find chests with various items inside and some of these require you to solve a puzzle before you can unlock them. Additionally, there are many magic mirrors scattered around which allow you to save, enhance your equipment and also train your abilities. There are many training sessions and each one has different levels of difficulty (beginner, intermediate and advanced), here you can train certain arts and techniques that are really useful in combat. Moreover, your characters have the ability of using powerful elemental weapons and when they have collected 5 purple souls they can access ogre power, allowing them to be invincible for a short while.
Furthermore, the RPG elements so proper of the series are also included and work really well. Every time you defeat enemies they emit souls, which have different effects according to their colors. Yellow souls restore your health, blue souls restore your mana and red souls represent experience. Experience may be used to significantly improve your equipment and this is necessary to open certain doors or defeat enemies more easily.
Controls are much more responsive this time around, mainly because Onimusha 3 was given a control scheme of its own. The first Onimusha used the same control scheme as games from the Resident Evil series, which wasn’t really appropriate for a fast-paced samurai action game. This type of gameplay seemed old-fashioned and was starting to feel woefully inadequate, thankfully now you can maneuver your characters in a much more graceful and precise way. Some complex mechanics were also included and if you time your attacks well you can deflect or even counter your enemies’ assaults. Causing these critical hits is extremely difficult at first, but once you get used to the timing of the different enemies it’ll definitely get easier.
Aurally, Onimusha 3 is excellent. The game includes some really inspired orchestral pieces that suit the action quite well, and the sound effects of the different weapons are more than accurate. Music creates a really good atmosphere and adds credibility to the world. Voice acting is exceptional, mainly because the game includes both French and English languages. It should be taken into account that English is much more prominently used than French and the latter is only used in certain sequences.
Visually the game is also outstanding and most 3D environments look really well. The use of camera can be cumbersome at times, but this has improved dramatically from previous games in the series. As I previously mentioned, the introductory CGI sequence looks simply superb even after years of the game’s release, and at this point not only are these a trademark of the series, but also a symbol of what Capcom is capable of. Characters mix really well with the diverse backgrounds, but unfortunately the problems with lip-syncing haven’t been addressed. At times, especially when there’s a lot going on onscreen, the game has a tendency to slow down and frames will drop dramatically if you’re fighting against many enemies or if you use one of your many flashy spells. Moreover, it should be considered that once you finish the adventure, which may take you about 10 hours to complete on your first playthrough, you unlock some minigames. Extra features include new costumes, game modes and mini-games and add replayability to an already long game.
Onimusha 3 is a great conclusion to the trilogy as it features really good visuals, refreshing time-travelling mechanics and a cohesive story. The combination of all these is more than interesting and the game is highly recommendable for either fans of the series who have played previous installments or those who enjoy action adventure games where you can kill dozens of creatures.