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PS2 Video Game Review: Onimusha – Dawn of Dreams

This is the definitive ‘Onimusha’ game in the series. Cool story, cool game play, cool characters, cool music and awesome CGI . Definitely action-packed, a lot of suspense and a little extra things thrown in to make ‘Dawn of Dreams’ the best in the Onimusha series!

TITLE: ONIMUSHA – DAWN OF DREAMS (新 鬼武者 DAWN OF DREAMS)

CREATED BY: CAPCOM

CONSOLE: Playstation 2

ESRB RATING: M for Mature – Blood, Language, Violence

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

A new hero. A new era. A completely new Onimusha. Redesigned from the ground up, a brand new Onimusha opens a completely new chapter set 15 years after the original trilogy. Stunning graphics, special effects and even more relentless, action-packed gameplay all combine to redefine this action epic. Choose from five all new playable characters.

I have had a love/hate relationship with the “Onimusha” video games. Mainly because of the difficulty has led me to just give up and go onto the next game.

But I decided that in 2008, I’m going to beat every “Onimusha” game that I started and didn’t complete but first, I wanted to play the latest game from the series which I’ve had and hadn’t played yet and that was the fourth game in the series titled “ONIMUSHA – DAWN OF DREAMS” which is literally a new beginning for the series.

The storyline revolves around Soki (Hideyasu Yuki), a warrior who possesses the dark power of the Oni. Soki travels with his miniature companion (creature) Minokichi, visits village after village taking on evil monsters known as Genma that have ravaged the land.

It appears that Nobunaga’s vassal Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was unifying Japan has suddenly gone dictator and may be the person responsible for the growing numbers of Genma in Japan.

And to make matters worse, Toyotomi has unleashed these sakura trees built with the screaming souls of dead that create the genma and planting them throughout Japan.

Along the journey, Soki teams up with several characters along the way as they plan to rid of the trees and get their revenge.

  • Yagyu “Jubei” Akane – A young ninja from the land of Yagyu that has an eye of the oni. On the mission to stop her uncle who has sided with the Genma.
  • Nankobu Tenkai – A mysterious monk who resides at Mt. Heiei who is familiar with the Genma.
  • Ohatsu – Sister of Lady Yodo, concubine of Toyotomi and childhood friend of Soki who is in love with him but yet honors her clan and tries to persuade Soki to come back home.
  • Roberto Frois – A Christian missionary (Half Japanese and Spanish) that is incredibly strong and betrayed by his father Luis who used him as a genma experiment. And also has a love interest towards Ohatsu.

And suffice to say, how things are tied together with past Onimusha games is a surprise for fans of the series as well.

GAMEPLAY:

Onimusha is an action game where you control the character and hack and slash enemies and also a game where you have to solve puzzles.

Unique to the Onimusha video games is that when you kill an enemy, a red or white ball of light (their soul) is released and by pressing on the X-button, you can capture their souls.

Capturing souls is important, as this is what is used (almost similar to a point system) of leveling up a weapon or armor or also boosting up the special attack meter.

And the more Genma you defeat, you accumulate the money needed to purchase more weapons, armor or health related items.

Soki can wield massive swords that can be destructive and have the potential to eliminate many enemies with a special move; Jubei is quick and fast with her double sword attacks; Tenkai uses monk poles to attack; Ohatsu is a marksman and uses a rifle and Roberto uses special gloves which he uses his brawn to do punching attacks.

Special move attacks with a weapon such as ice can put several enemies in ice and one hit will shatter them; wind can create a massive tornado like attack; fire attacks are large fire attacking enemies all at once and much more.

Unique to “DAWN OF DREAMS” is the ability to switch to a secondary character by hitting L2. You can assign the secondary character to attack all out, follow and attack, rest and recuperate or just stay in place.

Similar to previous games, you will find an orb where you can save, increase the stats of a sword or item, shop or even change your secondary character.

On many of the levels, there are many puzzles that require each of the skills that a character possesses. There are narrow passages or small holes that require Jubei; Dead people who may have important items or information to give and only Tenkai can hear them; Ohatsu can use her grappling hook to get to areas that may be obstructed or no floors that require that skill and also set off detonation devices; Roberto can get through metallic doors and big huge crate-like blocks that require his strength.

So, puzzles include finding items in one room that would open access to another room but utilizing a member of the team to obtain items depending on their skill. So, yeah there is a bit of backtracking involved in this game.

Also, unique to “DAWN OF DREAMS” is the ability to change the cameras while walking. Before there was just a fixed camera but now you can literally see all around you. So, it’s good to see them have this option.

GRAPHICS:

The graphics for “ONIMUSHA: DAWN OF DREAMS: is just breathtaking. The cut scenes were great to watch and also the environments are now 3D and not pre-rendered. Definitely one of the better looking games graphically for the Playstation 2.

AUDIO:

This is what I love… the option to choose English dub or Japanese voice acting with English subtitles. I tried both and both are well-acted but the Japanese gets my nod of awesome voice acting, especially during the emotional scenes.

The sound is Dolby Digital Pro Logic II but the sound is clear for the vocals, music and special effects come alive and even during the final scene, I kept wondering if I heard a child talking but it was part of the background of an area. Spooky!

CONTROLS:

The controls were not difficult. Each person has a good number of special attack moves, some basic as hitting the square button to another type of attack that utilizes up/R1 and down/square quickly. But all in all, I had no control problems.

J!-FACTOR:

The opening and ending themes were performed by avex trax pop diva Hamasaki Ayumi. If you selected Japanese vocals, the opening theme would be “Startin'” and the ending theme is “Rainy Day”.

For anime fans, the voice of the main character Soki is by Kusuda Toshiyuki (Shishido Ryou of “Tennis no Oujisama”/”Prince of Tennis”). Nogami Yukana voice of Akane is known for her a lot of her voice work for video games and anime such as Meilin Lee for “Card Captors Sakura” and Kotoko for “Chobits”. Kobayashi Sanae, another veteran voice actor is known for a lot of video game and anime work notably Touya Akira of “Hikaru no Go” and recently as Sara Nome for “Macross Zero”.

It took me about sixteen hours to beat “ONIMUSHA: DAWN OF DREAMS” and I have to say that the experience of playing this game was just exciting and fun.

The chapters are long enough that a second DVD was needed. So, there is indeed a lot of content in this game.

The storyline drew me in because although it’s an action-based story, there is a lot of emotional situations that happen throughout the storyline that you may find yourself shedding a tear or two.

So, suffice to say, the overall storyline combined with the awesome cut scenes and wonderful music throughout, made this game so much fun.

But there are some weaknesses. There are many puzzles to solve but some chapters I felt they thrown in to give the game a more lengthier experience. Personally, I didn’t mind the puzzles but at times it just felt repetitive. Not that bad though.

Another is some glitchiness where you set your second character to either go all out fighitng or wait and cure itself. It’s very upfront and if you want them to wait and cure themselves, they will. But you would hope that when an enemy is going to attack them, they would at least fight back. So, you have to keep an eye on your partner especially their health level and that is why, you find yourself fighting and fighting, so you get more money to build up money to buy items at the shop. And believe me, near the end of the game, you will want to make sure you have a lot of recovery items.

But with that being said, do not let those weaknesses prevent you from trying this game out. The storyline, graphics, characters and overall game is just too good to pass. It’s easily the best Onimusha experience on the PS2. Especially when you get to the final hours of the game.

The ending scenes of “ONIMUSHA: DAWN OF DREAMS” is like watching the “Terminator” movies. You think you are done and you beat the game, get a lengthy cut-scene and then something else happens and you get a new boss, beat that boss and then something else happens and another boss. I never knew what to expect and when I thought I was done I wasn’t.

The final battle alone took me a long time to figure out a strategy but the reward of the storyline especially after the ending credits was a plus for all that hard work. Excellent Capcom! Please do a sequel!

So, with that being said, the final battle(s) were just incredibly fun, stressful at times, as you had to play over and over to come up with a strategy, long but all in all, left me filling satisfied and enthusiastic for hopefully a sequel.

And by saying that, there are some cool extras thrown in after you beat the game. After beating the game, you open up a co-op mode and for “Street Fighter” fighting video game fans, there is a special optional clothing code where Soki can dress up as “Ryu”, Tenkai as “Ken”, Ohatsu as “Chun-Li”, Akane as “Cammy” and Roberto as “Guile”.

All in all, an awesome game and has renewed by interest in the series. I will probably go backwards and try to beat the third Onimusha game next. But after playing this game, I’ve become a renewed fan with renewed interest in the Onimusha series. I hope there is a sequel in the works.

Highly recommended!

+ Awesome storyline, cut scenes, gameplay and interesting characters

+ The ability to play with a variety of characters, especially control two

+ New camera and new engine

+ A lot of weapons and items and really cool fighting moves and special attacks

+ Well acted and the choice to choose English dub or Japanese is just awesome!

+ Awesome instrumental music and also great to hear Hamasaki Ayumi singing the opening and ending themes

– A little repetitiveness

– Janky AI at times

– May be a bit frustrating for some

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