Onechanbara Z2: Chaos Review

By Shawn Collier on September 16, 2015

The Onechanbara series has had an interesting past in western territories, with eleven titles released in Japan but this most recent entry, Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, being the second title in the series. The first title in the series, Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad, was met with tepid reception due to its overuse of its ridiculousness and sexuality to its detriment. So how does the second entry to reach western audiences fair? Surprisingly, much better than you'd expect.

Being eleven titles in, the series has quite a complicated backstory as one would expect. The game follows four sisters who join forces to fight the undead monsters that have popped up throughout the world. The catch is that two of the sisters, Kagura and Saaya, absolutely hate each other as they split allegiance due to a war between the Vampiric and Boneful clans. Those two sisters are joined up by two more younger sisters, Aya and Saki, for a total of four in all. Credit has to be given to XSEED's localization, as some of the banter between the sisters during the game was quite amusing due to their varied personalities, doing a lot to break up the combat every now and then.

Speaking of combat, that's where the core of the game revolves around. As stated earlier, this game is a hack-and-slash title where your goal is to defeat the numerous zombies that surround you at any given time. If you've played any game in the Dynasty Warriors franchise, you should have a pretty good idea of the gameplay at hand. You can switch between a mix of light and heavy attacks, with the game zooming in on the action when you deal some of your more powerful attacks just when you'd expect it to.

What was most surprising, considering the game's fetish-riffic characters in their default outfits, is that there's a high detail of care taken into the gameplay mechanics. Each character has their own unique attack styles and weapons, which can be upgraded as one progresses through the game. There's also a plethora of different mechanics at play, such as a tag mechanic once a meter fully fills that has all four sisters attack the enemy at once for massive damage, character-specific "Ecstasy Moves", and a neat transformation mode for the Vampiric characters that lets them gain a super-powerful transform for a short time. All things put together, it makes for surprisingly deep combat mechanics than one would expect at first glance. And the series trademark of having to flick the blood off your sword to keep at full power remains here as well.

And speaking of the character outfits, as you'd expect from the game's premise, there's a high detail of customizability available to the player. The game includes a fully-featured dress up mode where you can customize nearly everything about their outfits if you so wish. The surprise for most players will be that outside of the default bikini outfits that two of the characters wear, the other outfits generally don't fall into the clear or borderline exploitation variety, with that being relegated generally towards some of the paid DLC items. Of course, the player can mess with the attachments, which can be positioned almost wherever you please, but the camera doesn't do any obvious zooming in towards the obvious places when switching costume pieces out. It's welcome to see a developer that knows they're making, but has enough restraint to not go into full-on perv territory in this type of game.

That said, there are quite a few obvious rough spots with the mechanics. The game's engine can and usually will fall behind the actions of the character, as zombies will come from all corners and typically will get in front of the camera, blocking the player's view. This tends to devolve random encounters into a button mashing fest. This occasionally becomes an issue as certain enemies require specific timed attacks to defeat them, so having to work against the engine in these sections becomes a bother when they pop up.

Boss fights also run into a similar issue, but in the sense that the bosses move around much faster than most people can react to them to deal proper attacks, so you usually have to end up spamming your most powerful moves in an all-out assault. On the normal difficulties this isn't ever a real issue in terms of progression, but having to resort to those tactics instead of playing skillfully becomes annoying.

Considering the developer, the graphics are about what you'd expect from a smaller developer. The game generally hits a nice 1080p/60fps frame rate, although the graphics are a bit bland and occasionally muddy. Thankfully the character and enemy designs are colorful enough that you generally don't notice it that much.

Final Thoughts

Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is the video game equivalent of good B-movie. You know going into it that it isn't the best looker and has technical issues, but the creators put their heart into it and it shows. If you can look past its issues and enjoy what's hidden underneath the surface, it's a great way to unwind and have fun slicing up zombies.

Always a good thing when you're slicing up zombies.
The customizability in both the outfits and the battle mechanics are much more fully featured than you'd think.
The developers generally don't overly focus on the sexual aspects of the main characters.
In general enemy-type brawls, things often tend to devolve into a button-mashing fest.
Bosses tend to move too quickly for most players to react fast enough.
The graphical textures are sometimes muddy.
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