Omega Force's long-running Musou series has featured a wide variety of spin-offs over the years. This time around, plenty of familiar faces from across the Koei Tecmo universe have come together to duke it out so let's get ready to hack and slash.
When I first started playing Warriors All-Stars, I didn't really understand what was going on. I figured it was just your average Dynasty Warriors formula but man, was I wrong. The core gameplay of hacking and slashing then unleashing the odd special move is intact but there's much more here than you'd expect. The most notable mechanic is the bravery system. As I began playing, I didn't consider how much of an effect this system had on success so I perished frequently but after figuring it out, I can say that it's quite a cool dynamic. Basically, whenever you claim bases for yourself (which is fun in its own right) or beat up key enemies then your bravery level will go up which makes you much more powerful. If your bravery is significantly lower than your enemy's then you'll likely lose the fight. So, the key to victory is to increase your bravery then let all hell break loose. It's engaging and addictive stuff.
Of course, the characters of Warriors All-Stars are what give the experience its heart and soul. You'll eventually meet a large cast of heroes from games in the Koei Tecmo universe including Atelier Sophie, Nioh, Deception, Dead or Alive 5, Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, Toukiden, and Ninja Gaiden. Even Opoona is here which is just awesome for fans of the obscure JRPG (like me). It's kind of disappointing that there are only Japanese voices but the world is so full of charm and fun and that more than makes up for it.
Besides the immersive bravery system, there are a few other mechanics that'll keep you hooked. Characters form relationships with each other the more they fight together and considering how many heroes are available; it's very interesting to watch everyone's affinity gradually grow. Each hero can also level up and equip a card to provide boosts. One of the coolest systems is story progression where you slowly uncover a massive map that's full of missions to take on. Some of them are only available for a few seconds so just scanning around the map can result in some exciting times. There are many endings to discover, too, so the campaign is anything but short. With so much to see and do, Warriors All-Stars goes above and beyond what gamers would expect from a typical Musou game.
All of that being said, Warriors All-Stars almost entirely consists of this story campaign and doesn't include any additional modes or multiplayer features. There is an extensive encyclopedia and gallery that you can try and fill out fully but besides that, there isn't really any extra content. Playing cooperatively would probably be very fun so the lack of a multiplayer component is especially disappointing.
Each character has their own set of moves that's quite enjoyable to master. Most of these involve using a strong attack at the end of a succession of normal attacks. Aside from that, you can perform a special attack when your meter is full, enter Musou Rush mode once you have enough kills, and command your allies to unleash hero skills whenever they can. Although this is a lot of moves, the core gameplay doesn't really change much throughout the campaign and it starts becoming repetitive after a while. That being said, it certainly isn't as monotonous as most similar games but the tedium still eventually starts to sink in so don't expect to enjoy it for hours at a time.
As I've already touched upon, Warriors All-Stars isn't a stereotypical Musou game and it has quite a steep learning curve as a result. Once you get into the groove and start to understand how to effectively play, it can be a ton of fun. However, less patient gamers may be put off by this. Therefore, I wish there was an interactive tutorial besides the explanation screens that pop up every now and then.
With an enjoyable take on the Musou formula and boasting a fantastic cast of both mainstream and obscure Koei Tecmo characters, Warriors All-Stars is sure to delight a variety of fans and perhaps recruit a few new ones in the process.
- + Engaging gameplay with an addictive bravery system and enjoyable special moves
- + Loads of fun characters
- + Rewarding story mode progression
- - Core gameplay starts becoming rather repetitive after a while
- - Could use additional modes
- - Steep initial learning curve