It’s always nice when beloved source material is handled by fans. Take Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool, for example: as a long-time fan of the comic, he has completely embraced the opportunity of playing the “merc with a mouth”, much to the delight of fellow devoted fans everywhere. Playing through the newest game from Omega Force, Arslan: The Warriors of Legend, I experienced the same feeling as I did watching all of the Deadpool shenanigans Reynolds got up to outside of the movie. This game was obviously made by fans of the manga who loved what they were making.
The adventure begins in a mythical land at strife, with a close resemblance to Crusades-era Middle East. The holy kingdom of Lusitania is determined to conquer the kingdom of Parse and enslave or murder the “heathens” that occupy the territory. Our story follows Arslan, the crown prince of Pars, who is driven from his home after an act to betrayal causes his father, King Andragoras III, is captured by the Lusitanians. With the help of his trusted companions, and under the guidance of recluse and master tactician, Narsus, Arslan will gain allies, build an army, and take back Pars. Because Omega Force worked with the production team of the TV series, it follows all 25 episodes very closely, albeit abridged.
As one would expect from the studio that produced Dynasty Warriors, Arslan is a fun to play, well produced, hack-and-slash adventure. The controls are easy to pick up and come with a variety of combinations that keep the gameplay engaging and exciting. The character movement is fast and clean. The best representation of this was experienced through battling armies, of course. It was exhilarating to unleash a devastating special attack and watch a barrage of soldiers go flying in all directions. The one-on-one boss battles left a little to be desired on the camera end of things. It was anchored to the bosses, making it slightly cumbersome to aim accurately.
There are several game modes to keep things interesting. Story mode is the main platform of play, depicting the epic adventure of Arslan and his comrades, introducing each one throughout the game. We meet familiar bosses from the manga and TV series in a variety of battles, such as one-on-one duels, as well as the field battles Omega Force is famous for. You can relive these scenarios during free-play mode, and join or invite other players to fight battles with you online.
Each character has their own unique special attack that reflects the persona of each one. Darius decimates a crowd of soldiers with his powerful spear, Arslan and Azrael take down men through the power of teamwork, and Narsus paints a picture so awful, the enemy falls down in disgust—a nice call back to the ever-present running gag in the anime.
Characters can use multiple weapons that can be changed instantly during battle. Players can beef up their stats with cards that they find during battles, or synthesize using existing cards. Health items are easily found throughout the battlefield, which is great for keeping the momentum going. Characters can also battle on horseback and perform a super attack called the Mardān Rush, which allows you to control an advancing allied army and sweep through the enemy and flatten their troops with a dramatic wave of force!
Fans of the anime will be excited to know that each of the main characters is playable throughout the game and voiced by the anime’s original Japanese voice actors. Unlocked through story mode, you have an opportunity to play most scenarios from multiple characters' points of view. You can go back to Free Mode and play scenarios over again with a character of your choosing, which is kept interesting with dialogue pieces from that character’s perspective.
The visuals truly capture the artistic style of the anime. The combination of cell shaded characters and backgrounds that feel like a painting make the player feel as if they are submerged in an episode of The Legend of Arslan. It’s a classic anime style made digital, with a similar look to shows like Knights of Sidonia and RWBY. This is furthered with cutscenes that merge seamlessly with gameplay and punctuated with expository animations of scenes that fans will definitely recognise.
For fans of the manga, anime series, or of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, this game is an absolute winner. It’s true to its source material and shows respect for its fans. Although Omega Force does its best to make Arslan: The Warriors of legend approachable to newcomers, this is a game for the fans. Outsiders may struggle to find content to enjoyable. And that’s okay.