Sengoku Dynasty Review

Sengoku Dynasty by developer Superkami and publisher Toplitz Productions—PC (Steam) review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes


As one would expect, Sengoku Dynasty is a survival colony builder set in Feudal Japan during the Sengoku Period which was a major turning point in history. Shogun rule was out of hand and the provinces erupted into civil war over the course of many years. Notably three figures stand out as the ones who paved the way to Japan's unification. Knowing this, Sengoku Dynasty is set during a time period that is tumultuous, but was the birth of modern day Japan. And for the most part, the game has a great foundation and I enjoyed my time with it.  


Upon loading the game, I was greeted with a beautiful cutscene that was brilliantly voice acted in Japanese accompanied by sub-titles in English. My character ends up shipwrecked on the shores of what is referred to as the 'peasant kingdom'. My shipmate, Ako, washed up elsewhere. First, I looted the wreckage for supplies and set out to find the other survivor. She is not far down the beach and my journey begins.

Like many survival games, it is paramount to find shelter, food, and water, which is thankfully abundant in the area. I grabbed a bunch of resources and headed to the nearest town. Once there, I set out to build a new set of buildings that aren't charred husks. As I've played a bunch of colony building games, I began building a house and a foraging hut in preparation of amassing other townspeople. Though, I may have jumped the gun a bit because the quests take you through the whole process. 

As I explored more of the map, I found some merchants and stumbled upon a shrine or two, both of which are integral to the prosperity of my village. Merchants have resources that might not be attainable in the beginning, while shrines impress the importance of faith in Japanese culture. If given the correct offering, they will give experience towards one of the skill trees that have various boosts I could use. 

Overall, I love the direction of the game as it has a solid foundation in the genre. But I do have some gripes with it as I started building a Dynasty from the ground up, literally. The time period is appropriate for this genre as it doesn't have a grim dark theme like other survival games. The characters, while they aren't the most fleshed out, each have their own wishes. And the atmosphere created by the sound effects and scenery is spectacular. It is a promising and fun title that I both enjoy and also feel conflicted about. However, as the game is still very much in Early Access, there are some quality of life features that the developers might consider addressing. I'll get to those later. 

Graphics and UI

Sengoku Dynasty is a graphically beautiful game. Its water effects are quite stunning, the characters are well drawn, and the peasant kingdom is lush with trees and berries. The options menu which allows adjustment for graphics settings has a decent amount of customization, but unfortunately does not allow for reduction of some of the more graphically intensive events like rain effects. 

The UI design for the game holds a bunch of minor frustrations. While many of them are not game breaking, the UI has a ton of clunky elements that could break the experience for players. Starting with the basics, I like that the look is simple. On the bottom left is the Sengoku icon with bars that display your food consumption, health bar, and energy. It takes a ton of basic foods to fill up, yet the NPC's need a fraction of food for the same effect. In the middle on the left, you will see the actively set quest along with a strike-through if a step has been completed. On the right of the screen is an icon displaying the tool you have active. Tools can be active once you assign them to the hotbar in the character menu by hitting 'tab.' If a tool is active, a durability bar will appear on the right-hand side of it. While I like the simplistic design, I'd much rather be able to see the whole hotbar. 

At the top of the screen is a compass which will show nearby points of interest, direction, and a smaller bar. The bar indicates how much time has passed during the day, but since there is no specific value, it's easy to lose track of the time. Overall, the on screen UI is solid but has minor gripes.

When in the other screens, and more specifically the Dynasty screen, the design is not ideal. Each tab on the left displays information about your villages, population, and jobs of your people. They give you information regarding total population, what jobs the people have, their happiness levels, etc... Other tabs display more specific information related to the types of storage buildings erected, village names, and if your people have houses. While these tabs contain valuable information that contribute to the success and prosperity of your villages, it is unclear how to assign people to houses or jobs. 

Pros and Cons

To simplify my thoughts on Sengoku Dynasty, I'll give a list of pros and cons I found with the game. In future, I hope that some of the issues will be addressed during the early access phase so that other players will have an enjoyable experience.

Among the good qualities are:
  • Stunning graphics. Everything from the foliage to the water effects are incredibly well done for a survival sandbox game. There are some amazing shrines, character models, and animations that enhance the gameplay experience with its realism.
  • Land size. As the game is an open-world sandbox that can be explored, the large landmass that you have to build on is fantastic. Having to run around for resources illustrates the vastness of the island without being too large that it feels prohibitive. 
  • Co-op capabilities. Sengoku Dynasty can be played with friends! Feel free to message a gaming buddy and set your sights on building an epic empire together. No more having to wait on slow moving NPC's to do the job for you!
  • Sound design. I must admit that the audio is immersive. While there is no voice acting in the game, the ambient sounds draw you in. Birds are chirping, trees are shifting, and rain falls. The attention to detail in the sound design is nothing short of amazing and I love the atmosphere it creates.
  • Hotkey customization. It goes without saying that a game which allows the player the ability to modify hotkeys is a wonderful decision. Not only does it provide a bit of accessibility, but it gives people the freedom to use a combination they are accustomed to.

Some of the less than desired qualities are:
  • Unintuitive UI. The menus under the Dynasty tab are among the largest offenders in my opinion. It wouldn't take much to add a border or something to indicate that a specific portion can be interacted with. It's only after scrolling over text that players see that there is an interactable area.
  • The map. Overall, I like that the map has a legend that indicates important places of note. However, the two gripes I have with it are: the inability to re-press 'M' to close the map and the inability to zoom in. Many games allow for people to press the same button to open and close a window, not one way. As for the zooming, it would be much easier to plot your exploration route if you can see more specifically where you are. Plus, I dislike the overlaid text when you are in a village and the 'you' text muddles the village name.
  • No pause button. I understand that in a co-op game mode there should be no ability to pause (or it pauses for everyone). In a single player game, pausing the game on the options screen would be a great quality of life feature. Personally, I wouldn't want my village to be attacked while I'm grabbing some food in another room. 
  • Lack of refined video options. Mainly the issue I have with this is the inability to reduce the weather effects. It is part of the reason that Sengoku Dynasty eats a lot of RAM and can lessen the great gameplay experience for some of your players. Even on medium graphics settings, the game struggled at points, and that sucked. Nothing was more frustrating than the amount of issues other players had in a co-op game.
  • Locked buildables. I'm completely fine with having a progression system, especially in a survival sandbox game, but the icon that shows the lock button is not prominent enough, in my opinion. It is clearly a padlock, yet the color needs to be more striking as it is unclear to some. Most other colors are contrasted well enough with the game palette that this isn't a major issue.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Sengoku Dynasty is a great entry into the survival and colony builder genres. It is set during an important period in history for Japan which adds to the appeal of playing the game. The developers have done a fantastic job with the sound design, visuals, and overall gameplay which captivates players for hours on end. Even with the minor issues that I found with the game like strange UI choices or lack of handy features like a pause option, I found myself having fun! So long as the developers consider optimizing the game before its full launch as I found the load time to be ridiculous, survival fans will likely have a great time. Despite that fact, I enjoyed my time with Sengoku Dynasty enough to give it a solid 8 out of 10. 

Score: 8 / 10



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