One of the things I like about the modern era of gaming is microtransactions. I love how games constantly nickel and dime you for…wait, no, that’s not it. It’s Early Access! Who’s not a fan of the ability to sell a game before it’s finished for full price with no real accountability or…no, that’s not it either. What I really love about modern gaming is how everything and anything is up for being localized these days.
We’d have never seen something like Arslan: Warriors of Legend come out over here in the gaming climate of the ’90s; it’s a brawler based on a relatively obscure anime called Arslan Senki. Here it is in 2016, though, ready for you to check it out. Ain’t the future grand?
Arslan follows the titular Prince, crown prince of the kingdom of Pars and an overall white-haired weenie. Pars is known for being a military superpower with an unstoppable army and many mighty generals, so it’s entirely unsurprising when the kingdom is laid low by treachery. Arslan is forced to go on the run with his one ally, the badass spearman Daryun, and become a mighty leader who can rescue Pars from the machinations of the villainous Silver Mask and his Lusitanian army.
Let’s touch on the obvious right away: Arslan: Warriors of Legend actually looks really nice. Well, except when it doesn’t. Small-scale battles are pretty solid, while cutscenes are absolutely gorgeous and transition directly into gameplay. There’s an issue with pop-in, though, and this can be a little disconcerting at first. If you’re slaughtering your way through Lusitanians, you might not notice this, but it’s pretty egregious when you’re just riding around on horseback.
As for gameplay, well, this is a Warriors game in the style of basically all of the recent entries in that series. There’s a story mode, which serves as the meat of the game, as well as free battles and even a multiplayer option. You’ve got a regular attacks, power attacks and combos that utilize both. You’re also able to switch weapons, including doing so mid-combo to unleash a powerful strike that keeps your combo going. Characters possess unique attacks as well; Arslan can dodge and attack simultaneously, while Daryun can impale enemies and throw them about. Finally, the classic Musou attacks return as always, manifesting as awesome army-wrecking super moves that can turn the tide of battle.
Arslan’s divergences from the Warriors formula are noticeable if not numerous. Characters tend to feel more unique than in most Warriors games, meaning Arslan feels a bit like Hyrule Warriors which shared this concept. Battles against particularly powerful enemies are more significant than usual thanks to a shield mechanic. You need to break a foe’s shield before dealing direct damage to them, and it recharges over time when broken. Carefully dodging your opponent’s attacks allows you to slow time and even the odds.
You can also get a much-needed boost through Skill Cards, which are essentially gear and are dropped by defeated foes. You can fuse and upgrade your cards as needed to gain an even greater advantage. Finally, there’s the iconic Mardan Rush, allowing you to charge through foes with the might of an entire army. This allows you to ravage enormous numbers of mooks, break through barriers and earn Skill Cards and experience.
As mentioned, Arslan is a gorgeous game that stands out from previous Warriors titles with its unique aesthetic. The setting itself ends up feeling a little bizarre. It’s based on an ancient Persian epic, which means that the game and anime offer a Middle Eastern flavor mixed with the usual lily-white anime protagonists and villains; having no experience with the source material I wasn’t sure what to think. Fortunately, the game offers a strong introduction to the characters and allows you to play through their adventures, so you don’t need to have been an Arslan Senki fan to get into this one.
Arslan: Warriors of Legend is another great entry into the Warriors series. I know that it’s cool to go on about how repetitive these are, but honestly it’s a series that produces one solid game after another. I’ve got no complaints with that, especially when they look and play as well as Arslan does. Anime and Warriors fans should check this one out, and it should go without saying that anyone who loved Arslan Senki should do the same.