The zombies are once again threatening to destroy the world and the two pairs of sisters from the ancient Vampiric and Baneful clans have to team up in order to stop them. That’s the basic premise for Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, the latest title in the long-running hack-and-slash series. Originally released in Japan late last year, Z2 has now made its way to the West thanks to publisher XSEED. But did they do us a favor, or should they have not even bothered? Maybe.
For the first time ever in the series, players are able to command 4 characters, each with their own unique weapons and abilities. Combat is simple enough, hit the square button for light attacks, triangle for heavy and circle to use your sub weapon in order to take the fight to the zombie horde.
Slice n Dice!
Action in Z2 is a fast paced visual treat, as you slice your way through hordes of zombies, pulling off aerial and ground attacks while racking up your combo count. Each lady has their own unique combos, and being able to switch between them on the fly adds much needed variety to your attacks, while allowing you to extend your combos even further. The real highlight of the game’s combat though, is when you’re in control of all four women at once. Everything on screen is pure chaos (No pun intended), as you unleash multiple combos alongside some annoyingly catchy electronica music. Thankfully the frame-rate manages to stay consistent even during the game’s more chaotic moments.
Swords and chainsaws aren’t the only way to handle the opposition. The bikini wearing samurais also utilize Ecstasy Combinations (I’m serious), special attacks that can be performed — once the gauge is filled, to clear out multiple enemies at once. They aren’t that cool or exciting to look at but are required when fighting certain enemies who are otherwise invulnerable to normal attacks and are good for defeating large groups faster. Completely filling up the Dare/Xtasy Drive with the blood of the undead, will allow the protagonists to take on demonic forms. They attack faster, deal more damage and sport outfits that don’t leave much to the imagination.
Interesting attire you got there ladies.
Killing enemies earns yellow orbs, which can be used to upgrade weapons, purchase new combos etc. Sadly it seems like a rather unnecessary feature, since one can go through most of the game executing the same default combo attacks to emerge victorious. It doesn’t help when the entire game isn’t very challenging. Mowing down countless enemies is fun but getting your ass handed to you can be as well. Finding yourself on the verge of defeat, only to pull off an amazing comeback is one of the best feelings there is when playing an action game. Onechanbara doesn’t feature moments like that, at least not on the medium difficulty (The Harder modes are locked), which is why I went through most of the game without upgrading anything. I only started using it later on for review purposes.
Graphically the game is a mixed bag. It is obvious more detail went into the main characters and their assets and attire than the game’s environments. Each locale looks like something straight out of an old PS3 game, with their boring textures and mediocre designs.
It doesn’t take long before the game becomes a tedious affair. A majority of the missions ultimately play out the same way; advance forward and fight, move forward again, fight some more, occasionally watch a quick cutscene, then rinse and repeat until you’ve come face to face with the stage’s final Boss.
Speaking of Boss battles, they don’t add much excitement to the experience. The often larger than life enemies absorb and deal more damage than their smaller counterparts but aren’t very challenging in the end. These fights boil down to hacking away at the Boss’ health until it is time to trigger a QTK (Quick Time Kill), which is basically this game’s version of a quick time event. Instead of hitting the face buttons, QTKs are performed by swiping along the dualshock 4’s touchpad but is neither fun to watch or partake in. Normally Boss battles help enhance the combat experience in action games, Z2’s only serve to hamper it.
Don’t be fooled by his menacing size, dude’s a cakewalk!
Story mode isn’t a lengthy one despite featuring 16 levels to play through. It took me a little over three hours to finish it, with many its levels only lasting several minutes. Once you’ve beaten it, you can take a crack at the game again on higher difficulty levels, though there isn’t enough incentive to do so. The plot is rather boring and not worth keeping track of, especially when the protagonists spend most of the time cursing at one another and spewing out poorly written dialogue.
Mission mode gives players specific goals to complete, as they fight countless enemies on the same levels from the game’s story mode. Completing them require more than just cutting your way through the zombies they way you did in story mode. Each mission will feature a certain requirement players will have to meet in order for the kills to matter, for example only kills from ecstasy combos will register towards your kill count. This results in encounters feeling somewhat different than in story mode but it isn’t enough to keep the action from quickly becoming repetitive.
Final Verdict: Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is a so-so action title, thanks to its stylish, combat. Unfortunately the lack of a real challenge, repetitive mission design, and uninteresting story keep it from being great. There are much better action games on the market. This one is a rental at best but if you skip it altogether, it isn’t a major loss.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Publisher: XSEED Games
Played on: Sony PlayStation 4
Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz for the purpose of this review.