Arslan no Senki is an anime created by the same team behind Fullmetal Alchemist, which began last April in 2015. It’s based off of a Japanese novel series called The Heroic Legend of Arslan in 1986, which in turn is based on a Persian epic by the name of Amir Arslan.
Anyway, both the anime and the game star the prince of Pars, Arslan, who is struggling with setting his kingdom free from invasion. The game follows alongside the narrative of the first season seamlessly, with animated scenes from the show along with new and revamped scenes in the game. It’s not as fluid as the show and newbies may be a little lost, as it doesn’t fully capture the more subtle points of the anime. If the story manages to pique one’s interests though, please, watch the show. It’s really, really good. Ahem, as an aside.
Now in most Dynasty Warriors games there are multiple campaigns. However, there is one story campaign that, again, follows the anime in a similar fashion to what some Fighting game series, like Mortal Kombat X, have done in that it switches between characters on the fly. One mission may start with Arslan, move to his ally Daryun, onto Farangis, and then back to Arslan. The maps are smaller, more linear than other games in the series, but it’s actually a refreshing change of pace.
At the same time it’s also frustrating. Arslan features the same bombastic combat the Dynasty Warriors games are known for, but without addictive complexity. Many of the playable characters use the same weapons, of which cannot be upgraded, but heroes can at least equip different ones as the game progresses. However, as they’re only spears, or bows, of which are mainline weapons for other characters, this system feels tagged on and generic. There are cards that can be equipped to raise stats, but like the weapons, it feels like an afterthought.
On the plus side, Arslan implements an interim save option, which literally saves on the exact spot the player leaves it on. Choosing another mode from the main menu will erase this temporary data, but it’s a nice gesture nonetheless. The maps may be smaller and lack detail, but the characters that inhabit them are gorgeous, cel-shaded models that capture the look of the anime. Going back to overall content, it’s not just lacking in terms of mechanics. There are also no real extras in terms of modes. Fields can be replayed using any hero and the story can be played in online and offline co-op. In a series usually swelling with options, it’s truly disheartening to see Arslan fall short.
Arslan: The Warriors of Legend is a good licensed based anime game, but a mediocre Dynasty Warriors spinoff. Arslan is an awesome show, but with only one season, it’s curious as to why Koei Tecmo decided to tackle it. Other spinoffs like One Piece, or Gundam have tons of source material to go into, but Arslan sadly doesn’t, which is one of the reasons why the game probably suffered. Fans of the anime may enjoy this quick adventure, but DW fans will be sourly disappointed. It’s a rushed, albeit beautiful, anime cash grab.
Score: 3/5 Stars
Special Notes: The publisher provided a review copy. This article was originally published on February 9, 2016 via my Examiner account before the website shut down. Check out the supporting video review on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.