Review: OneChanbara Z2 Chaos

Release Date
PlayStation 4
Publisher / Developer
NIS America / Tamsoft

Originally released in October of last year in Japan, OneChanbara Z2 Chaos is finally out in the UK, courtesy of NIS America. Z2 Chaos is a direct sequel to the 2012 title OneeChanbara Z ~ Kagura ~, which, unfortunately, was never released outside of Japan. It has been 6 years and 6 months since a OneChanbara title was last released in the UK, and, after such a long wait, Z2 Chaos blows away the earlier titles. There is a short recap of the previous, unreleased in English, game at the start of story, but I am not sure of how much it actually covers. With the previous two titles we saw being a Wii game and an early Xbox 360 game, the graphics easily put them to shame. Unfortunately, some stationary textures, such as those seen on vehicles, are disappointingly lower quality than the rest of the visually pleasing game.

The main component of this title is the story mode, in which you have to kill hoardes of the undead around the world, before heading to HQ in order to defeat the final boss. Five of the chapters, one third of the story mode, can be played in any order you choose. This provides some minimal confusion, with the chapters being numbered the same regardless of the order in which you play them. The story is progressed in multiple ways; there a comic book style cutscenes, some short actual cutscenes in the game’s engine, and some character discussion during normal gameplay.

The story mode, while both satisfying and fun to play through, can be finished easily within 5 hours. This is when playing at the Casual’ or ‘Medium’ difficulty level though; upon completion of the story at ‘Medium’ difficulty level, the ‘Hard’ difficulty is unlocked. ‘Violent’ is unlocked after completing ‘Hard’, and ‘Berserk’ after ‘Violent’. This is a somewhat cheap way of extending the length of a game, but if you already enjoy the series, you’ll likely play through the story mode multiple times anyway, whether just for fun or to work towards completing quests. For newcomers to the series, or anyone that simply wants to play through the story though, this game is not ideal, even at the ~£30 price point the physical release can be bought for. Regardless, at £54.99, the digital version is incredibly overpriced; the physical release is much better value for money.

Gameplay is simple to grasp, and can be picked up without reading through all the help screens that you can read through during loading. The four girls each have main, seconday and sub-weapons accessible to them at any point; likewise, each of the girls is accessible to you at any time. The objective is, basically, to hack and slash through all the enemies using your weapons, remembering to tap L1 every so often to cleanse it of blood. While attacking, you build up your ability to either enter Xtasy or Dare Drive, depending on the girl. In these modes, additional damage is dealt, but you return to normal once the gauge depletes. Alternatively, you can wait until one or more inactive characters display “I’m Ready” beneath their image in order to activate a Cross Merge Combination; this calls out the appropriate characters to help slash through the enemies around you.

During boss fights, there are some quick time events that require you to swipe the touch pad in order to slash through the boss. Usually, I am not a fan of QTEs, but the implementation here is infrequent enough not to bother me. I do wish the game had at least informed me I was supposed to use the touchpad the first time it occured though.. There isn’t really much that can be done with the touch pad, so it’s nice to see they at least did something with it. I found the dual wielded swords to be the most enjoyable weapon available, with the fist based weapons serving little purpose other than to drive up the gauge in order to transform. The chainsaw, while a nice addition, and great when you get surrounded on all sides, served mostly to remind me of Lollipop Chainsaw, in which the chainsaw felt better implemented.

Aside from the varying difficulty levels of story mode to complete, there are a series of 20 missions to complete for each difficulty level. These missions tend to consist of having to defeat a number of enemies under some external condition, such as only directly after chasing an enemy. These missions are relatively short compared to chapters of the story, but still add to the overall game experience. Some missions are perfectly suited to aiding any attempts to grind particular quests. Quests are listed in both the main and pause menu, and provide goals to strive towards throughout either gameplay mode. Each quest has three levels to complete, with the third unlocking the relevant trophy. For those aiming to achieve as many trophies in this game as they can, quests may consume a lot of your time. Though, it is easy to work on multiple quests simultaneously to increase productivity.

As you complete quests and missions, you unlock customisation options for the characters. These unlocked items can have their size and location finely tuned, making for a pointless, albeit fun, feature. Naturally, upon unlocking bread, I had to equip a giant slice to Saki’s mouth and make use of the free camera mode in the pause menu to screenshot her acting out the ‘Late for School’ trope. When you can run around while biting toast and killing zombies, you know it’s a fun game.

The orbs that are collected as enemies are defeated can be spent on different kinds of purchase. Weapons and weapon upgrades can be bought for all characters to improve the effectiveness of their attacks. Rings can be bought to grant stat boosts to characters, though only one of each ring may be purchased, and three can be equipped to a character. Skill upgrades increase a characters abilities, and allow for longer combo attacks. Items are consumables that can be used at any point, such as for health boosts, or blood gauge increases. It is unlikely you’ll need to spend orbs on much other than

The game includes both the Japanese language track, and an English track. Both of these are excellent, and accompanied by a brilliant soundtrack. The only issue I took with the English track was in the pronunciation of the letter ‘S’ after a very short while. For every instance where the Japanese track would use a form of the word “oneechan”, the dub uses “sis”. The constant hiss of ‘S’s quickly becomes grating. The soundtrack is strangely catchy and upbeat, with the track “ICHIBAN WA ME” being the clear highlight of those included. Each of the tracks in the soundtrack can be listened to from a jukebox in the menus of the game. Unfortunately, unlike in the US, there is no UK physical release that includes a soundtrack CD; with such an enjoyable soundtrack, this is certainly a disappointment.

The long-awaited continuation of the OneChanbara series in the English-speaking world is everything anyone that has played the series before would expect, it's just a shame that there isn't more of it. Playing through the story mode takes around 5 hours, and for some, this may be all they are interested in. The missions to complete, and quests to work towards while playing missions or story mode, help to extend the game length significantly. This is alongside the increasing difficulties of story mode that unlock each time you complete one; alas, these methods of extending playtime do not appeal to all. If you're a fan of the series, or just enjoy endless slaughter of the undead, the sub-£30 price of admission for the physical release is sure to please. For newcomers to the series, or those only interested in playing through the story, it might be worth waiting for a price drop. Regardless, at £54.99, the digital version would be an illogical purchase; you'd be better off buying two copies physically and donating one to a friend.