Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams

Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams

Capcom messes with a good thing and makes... a good thing.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: April 15, 2006
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I have to apologize, and to a number of people. For starters, to anyone reading this that's still interested in what we think of Dawn of Dreams and was actually waiting on our verdict (all one of you -- hi Ben). A combination of a ton of games to review, a handful of industry events and the general length of the game kept me from getting to this until I'd beaten the game -- something we here at TPS try to do for review. It took too long, and I'm sorry.


I'm also sorry, Capcom, that I doubted you, and that I felt like this fourth game was missing something. I'm a huge fan of the Onimusha series, and they've managed to get better with each subsequent game, but DoD wasn't supposed to happen. Onimusha was a trilogy, and it came to a close with the last game. Trying to continue that would belittle the storyline and experience of those games.

So they didn't.

Dawn of Dreams wisely picks up a good decade-plus after Onimusha 3, and that's more than enough time to create a new villain (in this case, Nobunaga Oda's successor, Hideyoshi Toyotomi) and new heroes. Yes, that's plural, and yes, it means more than two. Though I did love the "what the hell?" effect of seeing The Professional himself, Jean Reno as a major character in the last game, DoD ups the ante by giving you five different characters, all of which play completely differently from one another.

This is how Capcom breathed new life into the series, and though it's a bit of a shock to suddenly get to know all these unfamiliar characters, adjust to a new combat system, and tuck into a deeper, more RPG-fused progression system, it's also a meaty, rewarding adventure once you do, and one that every Onimusha fan would be wise to set aside a couple dozen hours to complete. There are parts of the game that feel a little trite (the dialogue can be comically clichéd), but the same level of quality present in the other games is definitely here.

At the core of Dawn of Dreams' storyline is Soki, an extremely powerful swordsman that plays quite a bit like the heroes of the past three games. He's quickly joined by Jubei, the granddaughter of Jubei from Onimusha 2, then Tenkai, a mysterious monk, then Ohatsu, Soki's love interest, and finally Roberto, a Spaniard. All of the characters have their own personal enemies, though the looming threat of Hideyoshi's plan to spread Genma-tainted cherry trees all over Japan to enslave the country binds them loosely together under a single cause.

What's truly amazing is that the basic Onimusha gameplay is still here, but it's been augmented by a more advanced control scheme that builds a bit on stuff found in previous games. Pushing towards an enemy with the analog stick and attacking is a charged attack, holding away and attacking is a lift move (a la Devil May Cry). The kick move that stuns or knocks back enemies with a press of the circle button returns too, along with critical strikes if you hit an enemy right before they hit you or immediately after blocking though the latter has been improved with an extra opportunity for a surprise attack, which can then be linked into a chain attach that dashes from nearby enemy to enemy.

A newly added lock-on move helps with this whole towards/away thing, and it pops up a health bar for both bosses and common enemies alike, revealing a little more of the game's RPG influence. It's readily apparent when you see that gold and experience are dropped after killing enemies, and characters have levels and experience goals to hit. When they do, they're given upgrade points that can be used to make attacks more powerful, extend the window of timing for chain attacks, allow you to absorb souls faster, recover from knockdowns faster and dash around to avoid enemy attacks.

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