Warriors All-Stars is a surprisingly unique take on the usual musou formula. While the core gameplay is the same and as satisfying as ever, the variety of characters and extra content keeps All-Stars from becoming stale.
Developer: Koei Tecmo
Platform: PS4, PC
MonsterVine was supplied with a PS4 code for review.
I’ve played plenty of Musou games in my time, from Berserk to Dragon Quest, and while each has small variations that make them somewhat different from the rest, there are rarely any large differences between the games. Warriors All-Stars has some big changes that really set it apart from the other titles, most of which are largely for the better.
The story of Warriors All-Stars is probably the low-point of the game, purely because it isn’t especially interesting. While the basic story has heroes come to a whole new world to save it from an unknown evil, I can’t really remember the details overly well. Beyond the base concept, things feel extraneous and dry, meaning this is one title you won’t be flocking to for narrative purposes. The highlight of the story would be the way it sets up a number of satisfying character interactions, as one would hope for from a major crossover title. The sheer number of story endings, fifteen to be exact, is rather impressive as well, with each ending becoming available depending on which character you play as, which extra characters you find, and which choices you make towards the end. The endings are satisfying on a character-by-character basis, so while the main story itself is nothing to write home about, the endings are at least somewhat enjoyable.
As with any musou game, the gameplay is where Warriors All-Stars is at its best. Mowing down hordes of enemies by the hundreds will never stop being fun, especially thanks to the variety of characters available in All-Stars. As this is a huge crossover, it makes sense for characters from a number of vastly different franchises to have drastically different movesets. Ryu Hayabusa, of Ninja Gaiden, plays much like he does in his 3D titles, fast and precise with average damage. Meanwhile, Edward from Nioh has a slower and wider fighting style, while Nobunyaga, a feudalist cat from Samurai Cats, has a weirder gun-based moveset that has other cats run in to help him. The variety is welcome and makes All-Stars far more fun to play, as the majority of characters have fun moves and special abilities that make cutting down thousands of enemies feel even more satisfying.
“This over-the-top feeling of teamwork combined with the flood of enemies that appears purely to be slain embodies the silliest and best parts of the musou genre in a glorious way.”
Some new additions to combat include an interesting fighting style where your teammates fight beside you in perfect synchronization. Linked by a strand of lightning, you and up to 4 allies cut through crowds of foes with beautiful symmetry, which is both helpful in-game and very visually appealing. The biggest addition is Rush mode, which when triggered, multiplies the amount of enemies around you, and makes them die far more quickly. Allies will appear on the bottom corners of your screen to cheer you on, which is both hilariously cheesy and surprisingly helpful. Once the mode ends, all of your allies jump into the battle and create a huge slash that destroys everything in your immediate area. This over-the-top feeling of teamwork combined with the flood of enemies that appears purely to be slain embodies the silliest and best parts of the musou genre in a glorious way.
Outside of battle, there are quite a few new features that help All-Stars stand out. After battles, players can go to the hub from the world map, where they can choose to partake in a number of different battle types, or head back to the hub. The variety of battles is neat, with some focusing on your kill count, and others having you survive a battlefield where you die in one hit, but they’re all largely similar in objectives. The hub is where the real differences start to appear. For one, character relations can be bolstered through battle, and capitalized on in the game’s hub town. Chats with characters at the tavern, spa, or training range can lead to fun references and interactions, or even a nice trip to the hot springs together. These interactions give your allies new team-up abilities in battle, making it worthwhile outside of the fun references.
In the hub, you can also upgrade your hero cards. Cards serve as the upgrade system in All-Stars, rather than the usual weapons or equipment changes. Each hero has a card with a set attack on it, which can be improved, fused with an element for elemental damage, and have special abilities fused into them. The system strikes a good balance of being simple without being boring, as it’s easy to make your characters noticeably better and more fitting to your playstyle. And if you want to skip this type of improvement, you can pay gold at the training range to automatically level up characters, giving them improved stats. There are plenty of neat options to improve upon your characters, which really keeps Warriors All-Stars from feeling like “just another Musou game.”
“There are plenty of neat options to improve upon your characters, which really keeps Warriors All-Stars from feeling like “just another Musou game.”
Visually, All-Stars is alright. The frame rate rarely dipped below 30 fps, and only did so when a ton of special attacks and effects were used on huge groups of enemies. While having a steady higher frame rate would be ideal, the number of enemies on screen, combined with the flashy attacks, makes this somewhat understandable. The playable characters themselves look great, with the more cartoony characters having a light cel-shading effect on them that helps them stand out without being jarringly different.
In terms of sound, All-Stars has decent music and stellar voice-work. Some of the high-energy tunes stick with you due to the excitement they evoke in-game, but the majority of the score is just that, a score. The voice work is excellent however, with extra kudos going to Koei for having William speak English, despite every other character in the game speaking Japanese. It’s silly to see him blatantly understanding what everyone’s saying while responding in perfect English, but his English/Irish heritage would make it odd for him to speak Japanese, so it’s completely understandable that they aimed for accuracy instead of story tone. The other characters sound great as well. Whether it’s Hayabusa’s stern but kind voice, or the more over-the-top and silly voice of Naotora Li, each character’s voice fits their personality splendidly.
The Final Word
Warriors All-Stars is the most diverse and exciting musou game in recent memory. Though the story is boring and the frame rate could be upped, the gameplay, both inside and outside of battle, make All-Stars truly feel like a celebration of gaming’s most over-the-top genre.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 4 out of 5 – Good