Review: Onechanbara Z2: Chaos (PS4)

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Title: Onechanbara Z2: Chaos
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (8.4 GB)
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: XSEED Games / Marvelous USA
Developer: Tamsoft
Original MSRP: $49.99
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 16
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is exclusive to PlayStation 4.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos tells the story of two pairs of sisters from legacies that have battled each other for years who are now being forced to work together to stop a new common enemy. And that’s pretty much it for set-up for the game. These four women now have to work together and rid the world of the evil that plagues it.

This is your classic hack n’ slash beat-em up style game. It is not quite as complex as a Devil May Cry or as stylish for that matter, but instead is best described as competent or solid. Combat in the game can be enjoyed by button mashing your way through the game on the easier difficulties and only having to rely on the more complex aspects of the combat systems when going higher in the difficulty setting. The game at face value has little depth until you read the tips or guide information in the loading screens and that is where you learn the different meters you should pay attention to and how to best use all the abilities at your disposal.

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You have an assortment of combos to learn that can be found in the menus to get the most out of the action and you can buy more moves and abilities using the in-game currency earned during combat. In addition, new weapons can acquired too which, after trying a bunch of different weapons, did not feel like any of them really made a difference. One part of the upgrade system not explained much in the game are the rings. Each girl can wear one ring that boosts certain abilities and meters, and I did not know about this until I flipped through the tips during a loading screen. The rings become a huge help during the game because some bosses can be tough and a little extra boost can help make a somewhat tough boss pretty easy.

The unique hook with Z2 is the ability to play as all four girls on the fly by tagging between them during combat. At any moment you can tap a button on the D-pad and switch between a character. Switching characters is encouraged mid-combo because it gives a nice variety to the action and leads to stylish and deadly combinations. I really appreciated the switching of characters because it kept the combat fast paced and lead to some cool finishes.

… all in all the combat is quite fun …
It is even possible to have all four girls on the screen at once to destroy enemies in an quicker and more epic fashion. This mechanic is great because of the pure carnage that is caused by having all of them destroying everything on screen. It comes in handy when the game decides to dump a ton of mindless zombies in a stage and the fastest way to clear it is to have all the girls kicking ass at once.

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So all in all the combat is quite fun it is just everything else that takes away from the overall game. The story is pretty generic and is just pushing you through corridor-like levels where you are often locked into tiny arenas tasked with clearing all the enemies before progressing. This is where the game can tire really fast since it all becomes repetitive after a few hours with bland environments and bad AI.

The enemies are mostly mindless zombies that rarely put up much of a fight followed by slightly more challenging minibosses and actual bosses. I only remember dying two to three times in my initial playthrough. I actually remember having more issues with the mindless zombies being knocked out of the arenas making them impossible for me to kill, therefore preventing me from moving on until they slowly came back to the arena walls for me to hit them. In the occasional larger arenas I’d have a zombie straggler walking into a wall in some hidden corner forcing me to wonder if the game glitched because I couldn’t see anymore enemies.

… objects with really low texture quality …
Visuals:
The only compliment I can make about the visuals is that the main character models are nice. And I do not mean that in a creepy way due to their scantily clad nature, but because they are the only thing that isn’t low textured or bland. For the most part, the main characters are in skimpy bikinis and that might scare off a portion of the audience, but the game does not hide that fact so it should not surprise anyone picking this title up. I am usually not a fan of this type of character design, but the combat appealed to me and I was able to ignore that aspect. And you can dress the women in more clothing if you want, so there are options.

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The environments on the other hand are quite boring in design and often you will run by objects with really low texture quality or run into an environment that is nothing more than an empty room. It’s a shame everything is so bare because the game runs at a steady framerate, but it should, because there is nothing else for the game to focus on. The game just breaks rooms down into smaller arenas so even if you are welcomed into a bigger space it won’t last long. After playing for a couple hours everything begins to feel the same and becomes a chore.

… a fun game in a boring and repetitive wrapper …
Audio:
Music is where the game has the most fun featuring some good old fashioned J-Pop and some solid rock guitars and techno sound. The soundtrack is a nice mix and can help you get through the game and can maybe live outside of it. I am surprised by how much I dug the soundtrack. If you are a fan of anime it will definitely appeal to you. And when it comes to voice acting the English voice over is well done. What they are saying might be ridiculous and sometimes poorly written, but their performances work.

Online/Multiplayer:
This is a single-player game with online leaderboards.

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Conclusion:
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is a fun game in a boring and repetitive wrapper. That sounds harsher than it should but it feels true. When you first get your hands on the controller and dash around slicing zombies and tagging in and out characters the game is fantastic, but it slowly wears down with its lack of variety.

The AI on the difficulties available to you at first are dumb and lackluster and the bland environments become an eyesore once you realize how empty they are. The game funnels you into corridors and then breaks those corridors into smaller arenas while throwing every enemy it can at you. And while the combat is easy enough for button mashing and deep enough for strategy, the game never expands enough to fully take advantage of its tools.

Score:
6.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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