Release Date: 27/08/2015 (AU)
Played On: Playstation 4
Available On: PC / PS4
Time Played: 4h 22m
Progress: Completed Story Mode
Publisher: NIS America (EU)
You know how no-one can eat all the eggs? Well sometimes in the midst of artistic narrative story telling games, I need a diversion from abstraction and meaning. It's why I'm a fan of button mashing games like the Dynasty Warriors series, and it's why I enjoyed the C-Movie hack and slash antics of Onechanbara Z2: Chaos.
I remember playing through Wet back on the Playstation 3, which got away with its buggy gameplay and generic plot, by draping itself in grindhouse action. The critics were never friendly to Wet, but it found a soft spot in my memories of a damn fun game to play. Now, as I think back on Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, that same fond feeling appears, despite being distilled and completely shallow.
I'm aware that there is a story somewhere in this game, but I struggle to even begin conveying it. At the start you're introduced to the four lead characters, who are two pairs of sisters that have some sort of grudge against each other. Oh, and they might be vampires or something, but by the time the first cut scene was over I had switched off entirely. For some reason the feuding sisters have come together to fight a whole lot of demons and other nasty monsters that are taking over the world for some reason.
To be honest I'm not even sure why the sisters all look alike, even though each pair is from a different clan or region or something like that. There's definitely something fishy going on though as we soon discover that the girls are able to transform into their own alter-egos who are essentially over powered demon versions of themselves.
The safest way to approach the story in Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is to forget that there is one. Occasionally there will be comic book cut scenes with bad dialogue, but they don't last too long and can easily be skipped to get back into the action.
Action is the start and finish of why this game should be even glanced at for enjoyment. Most of the game is spent hacking away at enemies that fill a locked in area that you're unable to leave until everyone is dead. You can switch between any of the four girls as you fight, and even purchase new combos and weapons from the experience you accrue along the way.
Just like Dynasty Warriors though, you kind of have the option to mash those attack buttons, or time out incredible combos. I was only playing on Normal difficulty, so I mashed until the end credits rolled, but I would guess that mastering some of the more effective combinations would be essential for harder difficulties.
There's a dash to get out of the way, along with some kind of jump in the air and charge move, and of course the heavy and weak attack. It's all fairly standard for hacky slashy games, but the interesting gimmick is that each girl has her own set of weapons and moves. Each are effective in different situations, so it pays to switch through styles as you go, giving your wounded fighters a chance to recover some health while they're on the bench.
Weapons are fairly standard: sword, double swords, fist blades, ball-on-chain, and chainsaw… yes, the chainsaw is perhaps the most unique weapon of the lot. So much so that I found playing as the girl with the chainsaw either super effective or entirely useless, depending on the situation.
Different enemy types demand different strategies, but nothing that will do your head in. It's as simple as jumping at an enemy to get them airborne, before wailing on them before you land, or charging head on into a grounded monster who doesn't want to budge. Most of the strategy boils down to: hit the thing until there's blood everywhere and it dies.
Blood actually plays a role in Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, which might have something to do with the vampire thing that I had an inkling of earlier. As you slaughter demons, your weapons become less effective as they are covered in blood. It's kind of like a durability meter I suppose, except this one is replenished by simply pressing a button to shake off the excess and get back into the fight. It's a mechanic that doesn't do a whole lot for the actual moment to moment gameplay, but it gives you something to think about other than mashing square over and over.
What's more, each girl will get covered in blood as she rips bodies open and sends them back to the bowels of hell. Once she is full up on her blood meter, a simple click of the analogue sticks will transform her into the alter-ego demon type over powered version. It's a lot like the normal version, only things tend to die a lot faster.
While all of this is going on, another meter gets filled as you fight and can be used to unleash temporary super moves or buffs. Often they come down to shooting powerful projectiles, but my favourite was on one character who created a clone of herself on the stage, so you essentially controlled two weapons at the same time.
Carving through demons with a clone by your side, as you dance around in super over powered alter ego form, really did make me feel like a powerhouse of blood removal. By the end of the game, the clone creating character was the only one I ever used because she seemed to dominate enemies a lot more easily. Chainsaw girl became a bit useless as time went on, and the other two were basically weak copies of the first.
The boss fights started off strong as well, with cool designs for massive demons that took a bit of effort to kill. One of the most enjoyable fights was against a boss that consisted of two psychotic demon school girls who were quick and agile. I actually had to use the lock on system to keep track of their movements as they darted about the stage. Unfortunately though, the last act of the game features a couple of cool bosses, but ultimately just the same big demon monster repeated as an almost regular enemy type. The final showdown was neither huge or epic, leaving an empty longing for something ridiculous and obtuse to start kicking my butt.
There's a lot of blood though and if you enter this game with the knowledge there's nothing more to do than wear out a few key buttons on your controller, you might escape unscathed. I compared Onechanbara Z2: Chaos to Dynasty Warriors, because when it's at its best, it feels good to slash your way through hordes of nasty demons. I don't enjoy Dynasty Warriors for deep mechanical gameplay; I enjoy it because I can burn my way through hundreds of enemies with every blow. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos isn't as good as the Dynasty Warriors games, but occasionally I had a lovely little twinge of recognition between sweeping blows against rooms packed with monsters.
Whole heartedly, I do not recommend this game to anyone at all. However, if you find yourself browsing a store front one day and you notice a bit of Onechanbara Z2: Chaos on sale for a few dollars, there could be a few hours of hack and slash fun in it for you.
It's like watching a C-Grade movie with bad titillating jokes, while you eat an entire pizza and drink chocolate milk. There are moments of tasty clarity beneath the superficial fatty veneer. Just don't get stuck in too fast or you might be feeling a bit sick in the morning while you contemplate how you could have eaten the whole thing.