As if the events in Onimusha 2: Samurai’s Destiny weren’t completely over the top, things get even more nuts in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. The final entry in this trilogy combines blood soaked battlefields, massive demon enemies, ancient Japan and the most outlandish plot device of all: time travel. Despite all of these themes getting mixed together, Onimusha 3’s improved gameplay and content make this demon sieging drama a perfect way to bid farewell to the endeavors started by Samanosuke.
Jubei Yagyu managed to put a brief stop to Nobunaga’s ambitions, but as is expected with all-powerful demons, he has found a way to return. But, he’s not the only one. Samanosuke Akechi from the first game has mastered his powerful Oni abilities and clashes with Nobunaga in what is supposed to be a final encounter. Just as Samanosuke is about to land the killing blow, he gets caught in a time warp and sent to the future. Samanosuke ends up in city of Paris in the year 2004. After helping a government agent named Jacques Blanc, things get weirder: another portal appears and takes Jacques to feudal Japan where he meets the Samanosuke of the past. There’s a lot going on. Jacques and Samanosuke need to return their respective times and prevents Nobunaga and his Genma army conquering the world across all eras.
The story is eccentric, but seeing Samanosuke back in action makes it worthwhile. Jacques, the other protagonist of the story, shares the level of likability that Samanosuke has. He’s a family man that just wants peace, but will not hesitate to do what it takes to destroy Nobunaga and his Genma army. Both heroes get plenty of screen time and are joined by a few other faces. In Japan, you will often get assisted by Heihachi, a spearman. In Paris, certain points in the story let you take control of Jacques’ girlfriend, Michele. Michele is fierce as hell; a cool combination of strong and caring fully equipped with a machine gun. Unfortunately, there are some other characters that open their mouths far too often. The first is Henri, Jacques’ son. Like most children in video games, he’s annoying. The second character that detracts from the story is Ako, a pint-sized tengu that acts as a liaison between the past and present. Her overly plucky attitude is, like Henri, very annoying.
But, most of the time in Demon Siege is spent battling demons, finding treasures and advancing the plot. As soon as you are able to take control, chances are you will squeal about as high as I did when you realize that the tank-like controls are no longer used. Now, you can move freely in glorious 3D with the analogue stick. Samanosuke will be fighting most of the time in Paris using a new set of weapons. He can also use a bow and arrow to attack enemies at a long range. Back in ancient Japan, Jacques uses a bizarre energy whip that allows him to keep enemies at bay and pull him across gaps, onto ledges or over obstacles. The whip is a clever idea, but the controls for it don’t feel as solid as they do with Samanosuke’s blades. Both characters’ weapons and armor can be enhanced with the token red souls that get absorbed after an enemy falls. Ako is able to equip magical vests that provide passive bonuses. Oni Mode from Samurai’s Destiny has returned, but this time you can activate when you want after you absorb five purple souls. I’m glad to see that they decided to do this because it can be used during the brutal yet rewarding boss battles. There are also a variety of puzzles to solve, many of which will have you swapping characters/time periods. Some of the areas you explore can get crowded and there are times when the game isn’t clear on how to proceed, but Demon Siege’s improvements on the gameplay make it the most fun entry in the series.
The improved gameplay is reason enough to experience the game, but the continued tradition of impressive graphics and music also help. Half of the time you’ll be in Paris. Capcom did a fantastic job capturing the city and all of its landmarks. Japan in the 1500s still looks as depressing and captivating as ever. Jacques and Samanosuke will fight an array of grotesque demons that perish in satisfying ways. Both heroes are able to utilize special attacks that are as powerful as they are flashy. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the graphics in an Onimusha entry are wonderful. The sound department fared just as well. The main bullet point is that Jean Reno provides the look and voice for Jacques, but the rest of the cast (save Ako and Henri because they’re annoying) do a great job. Sometimes, the lines delivered can sound unrealistic, but the voice acting is believable. The music is another great feature, but it will be hard to fully appreciate it as you hack your enemies to bits. The sound of magical steel at a high velocity coming into contact with demon flesh never grows old.
Demon Siege has slightly more content than its predecessors. At the mirrors that allow you to save your progress, you can undergo trials for items. There are some hidden secrets to find that will allow Samanosuke access to his first three weapons from the first Onimusha. Additional costumes and modes can be unlocked after the credits finish. You can even take control of Heihachi in his own campaign. There are other bonuses, but I think you get the idea. Demon Siege’s five to ten hour campaign might feel short, but there are a variety of reasons to give the game another go. I’m glad that I saw things through to the end with Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. A combination of ancient Japan and modern day Paris seems out of left field, but the rest of the features make this a solid entry in the franchise and a solid way to say farewell to the diabolical Nobunaga.
Overall, 8/10: Onimusha 3: Demon Siege’s epic conclusion to the story and improved gameplay make the bizarre time travel elements and its other flaws easy to overlook.