There’s something extremely refreshing about a game like Onechanbara Z2: Chaos.
On one hand, it is a silly and shallow game using scantily clad ladies to sucker in perverts to play what is a reasonably simple hack and slash game.
On the other hand, the game seems to know that no one will take it seriously and rather than have anything remotely realistic, gritty or emotional polluting the various stages, Onechanbara embraces it’s B movie storyline and allows its audience to have fun.
If Bayonetta is a AAA game, this is most definitely a AA game. And frankly, it’s fun playing a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously even if there are so many flaws littering the experience.
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed)
Publisher: D3 Publisher, XSEED Games, NIS America
Review copy supplied by NIS America
And suddenly ZOMBIES
The title you see above is more or less the extent of the story in Onechanbara Z2: Chaos. It HAS a backstory of some kind but I couldn’t really follow it to be completely honest.
Something about two warring clans that specialise in hunting demons but also killing each other and they worked together in the last game at the end to kill someone called Carmilla I think… I’m sure there is more to it, but really the game just says “And suddenly ZOMBIES!” at which point the swords come out, and the blood goes flying.
The game seems quite aware that it lacks any kind of substantial story, even failing to adequately explain what the villain wanted to achieve, so it tries to compensate by having the four lead characters playfully antagonise each other and make running commentary on their situations.
It’s successful to a degree as I enjoyed listening to the banter and I sincerely wished there could have been more chatter, especially since the voice acting in English and Japanese is quite good. The most hilarious part of the story for me (whether intentional or not) comes right at the end when the game literally explains who the villain was AFTER you killed her during the end credits.
I thought I might die laughing at that point!
What little story there is in Onechanbara simply exists as a flimsy pretence to string together the various levels. This is most evident since large portions of the story and dialogue happen in comic book style panels with voice acting over it.
You control a team of four women, two of whom wear clothes while the other two wear lingerie, that travel the world (because zombies) and use a lovely array of weapons to dispatch their enemies.
Putting aside the titillating cuts of material that some may classify as clothing, I actually quite like the character designs as well as their personalities.
It was a joy watching them slice effortlessly through the enemies and looking good while doing it with their loose hair and clothing flowing with the force of their attacks. Obviously the costumes design lends itself to ogling but there is no denying they are colourful and unique, as is the weaponry that the murderous maidens wield.
Sadly, The enemy zombies look significantly less impressive much like the cannon fodder (I mean soldiers) in Dynasty Warriors. You get the odd gargoyle or Ogre to break up the monotony but you can tell all the effort in designing enemies were spent on the leads and the bosses.
Speaking of, the bosses are a reasonably colourful and imaginative bunch the include zombie versions of Kill Bill villains, an insect like dragon, and a bizarre centaur/genie hybrid of sorts.
The backgrounds are also vibrant and colourful. Players will experience the blue and gold beaches of L.A., a bamboo forest temple in the mountains of China and a castle ripped straight from Castlevania to name a few locales.
Onechanbara Z2‘s biggest problem seems to be that the levels are very small and there is almost no variation in the individual stages as you traverse them. I would have loved to have seen this game with another 6 months development and a bigger budget to have the stages fully realised.
You can only stare at the same stretch of desert for so long before you start wishing they had thrown in a cactus somewhere to break up the view.
Breasts and Violence
Of course, the main reason to play Onechanbara Z2: Chaos (besides the ogling I mean) is the violence! And I am happy to report that the fighting mechanics receive a B+.
You battle your way through most of the stages having access to all four playable characters, each of whom used their own distinct fighting style and weaponry. Kagura slashes wildly at her enemies using a pair of katanas, while Saki utilises very precise punches and counters to murder her foes.Their fighting styles also more or less match their personalities, the wild savagery of Kagura’s fighting matching her antagonistic and playful attitude for example.
Some players may find their attacks similar but I quickly found my favourite pair to use in battle and stuck with them for most of the game, only using the last pair in case of emergencies since you can swap in battle with the press of a button.
The fighting in the stages is fun enough, if lacking in polish. Besides trying to kill all the enemies in a given area, your goal is mostly to string together massive chain attacks to gain high scores. You do this by combining light and heavy attacks, sub weapons, aerial chasing combos, weapon swaps and mid combo character swaps.
You can get away with most of the game simply mashing the one attack button to win, but it is way more fun to try to achieve 2000 hit combos and 50 consecutive enemy kills. Players also have to remember to keep their weapons free of blood build up as it slows and weakens your attacks. Almost like reloading a gun, but looks way cooler.
You can also charge up climax attacks unique to every characters that are similar to super moves, cross over combos where you control all four characters at once to crush your opponents, and eventually a demonic form is unlocked for everyone. The demon forms are particularly interesting since your damage output increases dramatically, however it also drains your health meaning you may risk death if you are careless in this form.
There are also items to use in battle to heal, accessories to increase you effectiveness and additional combos available to purchase. With all the options available, there is enough variation for players to have a lot of fun dismembering the zombie hordes.
Let’s play “Where’s the zombie?”
Sadly, Onechanbara commits one of the cardinal sins of gaming and completely front loads the tutorial in what is frankly a lazy screen during your first battle. A large image of the PS4 control is displayed along side an avalanche of words that are mostly meaningless until you play the game a little.
There IS some in-game tutorialising but since it all happens in the first stage, One can be forgiven for forgetting how to do certain things. For example, I forgot how to trigger a cross over combo until halfway through the game (the touchpad by the way) AND didn’t figure out how to change my weapon until the final stage (L2).
Onechanbara also has other issues that crop up during battle. Gates appear to seal you off from exploring levels further until all the groups of enemies are despatched which wouldn’t be a problem if the AI was smarter and actually searched you out in battle. Sadly you will often spend a lot of time searching the area for the one zombie who decided to stand in the corner to look at the scenery, rather than partake in the brawl.
What aggravates further is by the fact that you can actually launch enemies outside the designated area making them even harder to find. On one occasion, I had to restart the stage because I knocked out a long-range zombie who refused to come close enough for me to finish them off.
There are also extremely noticeable hit detection issues and general camera problems that make the game more frustrating. At times, you can clearly see enemies miss with their attacks by an extremely wide margin (most obviously the final boss) only for your character to stagger or suffer heavy damage.
This is most infuriating when you are five metres in the air above your opponents, yet the bullets still hurt you despite flying four metres below. And the camera can be aggravating as it is far too close, making it difficult to keep an eye on enemies and dodging their attacks in time.
Presumably the camera is close for ogling purposes, but it hinders the gameplay. Luckily you can adjust the camera in the options menu, so I highly recommend switching it to “far”.
None of these problem were big enough for me to stop enjoying the game, but it is frustrating when you can’t see a giant dragon crush you with a foot stomp that clearly missed because the camera was too busy trying to get a nice up skirt shot.
Final Verdict: 7.5/10
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is an extremely fun hack and slash game that never takes itself too seriously with its outrageously provocatively dressed female leads, and B movie quality story. It could use extra polish in the visual and gameplay department, but even its occasionally frustrating hiccups in battle didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment.
Fans of Bayonetta and Lollypop Chainsaw should give this game a try. Onechanbara lacks the polish of both those games, but I would argue the gameplay boosts it above Lollypop Chainsaw. Fans of any of the Warriors games may also want to check this game out as it has some similarities to their battle systems.