Touken Ranbu Warriors Review

Touken Ranbu Warriors by developer Omega Force and publisher Koei Tecmo AmericaNintendo Switch review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes 

In the latest adaptation to a Musou (Warriors) style, Omega Force and Koei Tecmo Games / America have brought us perhaps one of the prettiest ones yet. Based on a source material that I was unfamiliar with, Touken Ranbu -ONLINE-, it didn’t take long in order to get up to speed with what was going on. Based sometime in the future within the year 2205, those known as the Touken Danshi will travel back in time to the Sengoku Period of Japan to prevent those known as the History Revisionists from changing the past.

From a narrative standpoint, whether you know the source material or not, if you know any general Japanese history, or if you’ve played the Samurai Warriors series which embellishes history quite a bit in a fun way, you should be fine. Starting near what would be the end of Oda Nobunaga's life, the Touken Doushi will have to take to the field to protect and restore “the real” timeline by first ensuring that nothing abnormal happens to Toyotomi Hideyoshi on his campaigns both before and after the passing of Oda Nobunaga.

This premise is an interesting one as it takes from what we've seen several times over from

     Samurai Warriors 1-3,

     Samurai Warriors 4,

     Samurai Warriors 4-II,

     Samurai Warriors 4 Empires,

     Spirit of Sanada and

     Samurai Warriors 5,

and throws a twist on it. Instead of being a historical figure, you’re instead taking the role of outsiders trying to fix the historical timeline while also trying to remain unnoticed. It was a nice change of pace on the source material. With plenty of dialog both before, during and after each stage, there's enough material outside the combat to appease both those wanting more, and those that are here for the latest Musou.

The general concept of a Musou is an easy one. There's one of you, and there are hundreds to thousands of enemies with sprinkles of tougher leader type units around various corners. Generally set in a 1v1000 format, Touken Ranbu Warriors is more of a 1v100 keeping the scale smaller both for combat and stages generally allowing you to finish a stage in anywhere from 45 seconds to 5 minutes. While I do prefer my 10-25 minute stages, it works well enough as there are a lot of elements present that are designed to make it more accessible to new players.

From the very beginning, you are asked if you want to use the simplified control scheme that will take care of most of the actions, or a more normal control scheme if you’re used to the style. Even here though, the actions have been kept simple as while you can press “Y” to simply attack and “X” to unleash a move, you can at all times use the Right Shoulder and the appropriate button to launch that more special move, at no cost, making things that much easier overall. Adding in that you are asked if you want to play on Easy instead of at least Normal, Touken Ranbu Warriors I would almost suggest playing on Hard for a more normal Musou experience.

This isn’t a bad thing, even for a long time fan of the style, it’s just that it makes for a much more relaxing experience than the crazy or hectic “how the hell am I going to pull this off” of Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, Arslan: The Warriors of Legend or Warriors All-Stars for example. Would I have preferred longer stages than being done in 45 seconds? I would have, definitely, but the pacing often feels on point and follows through. There are plenty of other features such as “duels” in which you have to mash “Y” against more powerful foes and damage in which your character will both appear to have been hurt as well as allow for faster charging to their personal special attacks.

What doesn’t exactly follow through though are the amount of load screens between everything that could be the result of the aging Nintendo Switch hardware. Starting from the beginning of one mission, you’ll get:

     a load screen to go into the battle setup

     a load screen to go into a mission

     a results screen for the mission

     a dialog session post mission

     a load screen for the Honmaru (home base) menu

     a results screen for the Honmaru which differs from the mission

That’s a lot of load screens and result screens. While they are at all times pretty to look at, when you’re only fighting for 1-5 minutes tops, that’s a lot to ask someone to have to sit through. This is especially the case with the load screen to go back in time from 2205 to the 1500s, and then the reserse. It really wasn’t needed from a player’s perspective. This would perhaps be my major complaint, too many results and load screens to go through.

Otherwise, the rest of the interfaces are pretty easy and smooth to go through. Once out of a mission where you’ve been running around mowing down enemies, you’ll be returned to the Honmaru in order to both train and gear up for the next mission. While your characters will constantly level up, they’ll only really get more powerful if you unlock new abilities. These abilities are in the form of special combo, power or launch moves. On top of these, you'll also be able to unlock bonuses to your number of attacks, hit points, and a character's attack or defense power. To do these, you’ll need one or more currencies to unlock a set of nodes in a 3x3 grid. Once a grid is complete, you’ll move onto the next node to unlock even more.

A side bonus to this is your characters take to the field together where you’ll be able to unlock bonding conversations, or episodes. These episodes will showcase a special scene between those involved and deepen their bonds together which in turn also helps out on the field for the last special gauge that can be filled, the Soutu Mode. This final combat mode allows for you to use both your chosen character and their partner in tandem to mow down everyone in sight. Generally this should be used against tougher foes but with how the stages are set, use it whenever you can as there is no downside!

Finally, while in the Honmaru, there are minigames available for those that you station within the various nodes. These nodes will gain experience in the final loading screen after a mission making it very easy to keep all of your characters relatively up to date when specifically having to use others. This was a feature that I greatly enjoyed as too often unused characters will get left behind and making the catch up can be a chore or even a slog. Back to the minigames though, these are short and sweet games that can earn you more currency by making Onigiri, pouring tea, picking up items in the garden or matching poses of Konnosuke who’s an adorable looking fox and the Touken Doushi’s advisor.

On a different note to the above, Touken Ranbu Warriors is both really pretty to look at, and I do mean REALLY pretty with the chosen colors and the art style. While the Switch is starting to show its age, this was one area you wouldn’t have noticed it and it made for a very pleasant experience. Following the visuals, the audio was also very pleasant to listen to and some of the battle tracks could be left on for just a little bit longer to really get the full feel of the track as the stages are often over way too quickly.


While I can see Touken Ranbu Warriors not exactly appealing to the general Musou or Warriors crowd because of its more simplistic and ease of entry approach, I would still recommend giving it a try. If nothing else than flashy, the gameplay is fun and the visuals look incredible on screen as you take a fictional batch of characters from 2205 back into the Sengoku Period of Japan.

Score: 8 / 10



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