If you're interested in Onimusha 3 for the PC, chances are you haven't played the previous games in the series (or maybe you're a morbidly curious fan of the series). All you really need to know is that for all the hard work put in by the heroes of the Onimusha series, slaying countless demons and zombies in their effort to vanquish the power-hungry warlord Nobunaga, they've been woefully unable to finish the job. Onimusha 3 begins as Samanosuke, the noble samurai from the original Onimusha, is assaulting the fortress in which Nobunaga has been pinned down. It would be a very short game if this were to be the warlord's last stand, so instead, a temporal rift suddenly appears during the confrontation, and Samanosuke is whisked away to Paris in 2004--and he's not the only one. The sorts of demonic fiends that have plagued medieval Japan now appear in droves in the streets of France, and they begin slaughtering everyone in sight. One of the survivors is Jacques, who unwittingly becomes Samanosuke's counterpart. Both men gain the favor of the Oni, in the form of a soul-sucking gauntlet and the ability to wield elemental weapons. And even as Samanosuke ends up in the present, sure enough, Jacques ends up in medieval Japan. Now, with the help of a little winged spirit named Ako (basically a black-winged Tinkerbell), who can conveniently whisk her way across space and time, these two warriors will need to put a stop to Nobunaga's nefarious time-traveling schemes--and hopefully find a way back to their respective eras.
While that's a pretty great setup, the plot turns out to be predictable and filled with ham-fisted dialogue. But it's still entertaining, thanks to some impressively choreographed cutscenes, and the underlying gameplay makes for some fast-paced fun, too. This is a fully 3D hack-and-slash action adventure, filled with lots of combat and some light puzzle-solving. The default keyboard controls are complicated, though they work reasonably well after you've had some practice using them. But if you hook up a nice gamepad to your PC (like Microsoft's Xbox 360 controller), you'll be able to play Onimusha 3 using the solid, responsive control scheme that was originally designed for it. Apart from these control options and getting to set your preferred screen resolution, don't expect many PC gaming conventions from this port of Onimusha 3. The ability to save your progress is limited to using "magic mirrors" scattered around the gameworld (these also serve as stations that can power up your weapons). Some environmental textures look blurry and ugly, though some great-looking characters and animation help balance this out. At least the manual explains the default keyboard controls, since the game itself still cites the PS2 controller's buttons.
There are a few occasions in which transitions between camera angles may cause you to take a cheap hit from an offscreen enemy, but for the most part, you're afforded a high degree of maneuverability, and you can easily conduct battle on your own terms. The action itself follows Onimusha's strong formula. It's simple and streamlined, letting you quickly mash on the attack button to execute effective attack combos. But there's also incentive to play with finesse. By properly timing an attack just as your opponent is about to strike, or by immediately attacking after deflecting an enemy's blow at the last possible moment, you can execute a deadly critical hit that causes your fallen foe to let loose a much greater quantity of soul orbs than usual. As in past Onimusha games, souls are used as currency for powering up your weapons and defenses (as well as for restoring your health and magic), so there's constantly good reason to be pulling off these instant-kill moves.
Optional training sequences will give you plenty of practice with these and Onimusha 3's other combat techniques, such as Jacques' ability to entangle his enemies with his energy whip, shoot them a bunch of times with his pistol, and then slam them into the ground. The action here isn't complicated or terribly deep--you'll fight many of the same types of enemies over and over, and most of them aren't particularly challenging. But Onimusha 3's gameplay is fast and good looking, rewards careful timing, and offers up enough variety between the playable characters and their various weapons so it's consistently quite entertaining. Overall, Onimusha 3 offers a reasonably lengthy single-player adventure that will take you a dozen or more hours from beginning to end. And then there's a good quantity of unlockable bonuses to keep you busy for a while after that.
There's only the default difficulty level available at first, but if you die a few times, an optional easy mode is unlocked. A hard mode becomes available once you finish the game, along with a side quest involving one of the game's ancillary characters. There are some other extras, too, such as additional unlockable outfits and minigames. One option you don't get is to hear the original Japanese voice-over. At the beginning (and end) of the game, the French characters can be heard speaking their native language. Thanks to Ako, though, Samanosuke and Jacques will soon be able to understand each other as they magically switch over to English. Fortunately, the English voice acting is pretty good on the whole.
Even though it's been jarringly displaced from its native platform, Onimusha 3 for the PC still delivers some quality action and thrilling story sequences. As long as you're willing to accept some ripped-straight-from-the-console shortcomings, you'll likely see from this version why Onimusha 3 was so well received on the PS2 in the first place.
Minimum System Requirements