Arslan is a name that is not too well known here in the west. The Heroic Legend of Arslan or Arslan Senki as it is known in Japan is a series of fantasy novels that were first released way back in 1986. Thanks to their popularity, the franchise quickly expanded to other media.
Arslan: The Warriors of Legend by Koei Tecmo is a game based on the 2015 anime. These modern renditions are based on the manga illustrated by Hiromu Arkawa, so it’s no wonder that the designs scream Full Metal Alchemist at times.
Keeping this in mind, it’s easy to see why the story of Arslan: The Warriors of Legend keeps the player engaged throughout the duration of the whole game. It retells almost every epic battle and important scene from the anime. The story is told through animated cutscenes lifted directly from the 2015 anime. Some of the more action packed scenes use the in-game engine and it does a really good job of keeping the atmosphere of the series intact.
The game follows the young Arslan, crown prince of the kingdom of Pars. After an unsuccessful battle, this once great kingdom falls under the rule of ruthless Lusitania. Arslan along with his loyal followers go on a quest to gather allies and reclaim his kingdom. The tale is filled with intrigue and deceit, and it tackles some interesting themes such as slavery and conquest in the name of religion.
Unfortunately, as a Warriors game it has very little new to offer. For those that are not acquainted with this formula, you mash the square button and watch in awe as hundreds of enemies helplessly fall with each swing of your sword. Despite the simplicity of these games, they are extremely satisfying to play. There is nothing more enjoyable and relaxing than slaying thousands of foes in a matter of minutes.
As you defeat enemy troops you will come across skill cards. These serve as Arslan’s equipment of sorts. These cards feature images of characters from the series and come in a variety of ranks. The higher the rank of the card, the more attributes it boosts. You cannot however only equip the most powerful cards. Since each has a cost, it is up to you to decide which cards are most important at what moment. If you find yourself overflowing with weaker cards, you can always opt to synthesize new and stronger ones by fusing up to 10 of your acquired cards and paying a sum of gold.
Unlike your typical Warriors games Arslan has only a handful of characters totaling at 15. Each character has a limited number weapons he or she can wield and their repertoire will slowly grow as they progress through the game. As you use a weapon it will level up and you will unlock more destructive combos and weapon arts which dish out extra elemental damage.
One addition to the tried and true gameplay is the Mardan Rush. At specific locations throughout the level you can rally your troops and have them charge at enemies. Mardan Rushes come in different flavors. The Cavalry Mardan Rush has you charging through your enemies. The Archer Mardan Rush allows you to fire volleys of arrows from a distance, perfect for dispatching groups of enemies. The Foot Solider Mardan Rush may be slower but it gives you fine control of your troops and even allows you to fire a powerful ranged attack. Mardan Rushe also serves as a way to crush through barricades in order to open blocked paths.
For those of you that like playing with friends, Arslan supports a both offline and online multiplayer. This is one of the few games these days that supports split-screen multiplayer, so you can always call a buddy for some offline couch co-op.
Arslan: The Warriors of Legend features some of the technically best looking cel-shading to date. The seamless transitions between the anime story cutscenes and in-game visuals can be truly breathtaking at times. The levels themselves don’t look too shabby either. You will be visiting a variety of distinct locales during different times of the day. However, they ultimately end up being a bit too flat. The vast empty open areas leave a lot to be desired.
Unfortunately, the draw distance can really take you out of the experience. You can see enemies in the distance clearly, but what’s baffling is that you will frequently see soldiers near you pop in and out of existence.
All dialog in this game is fully voiced. The game does lack dual audio and while we generally wouldn’t mind this, some of the battles are so hectic that it’s hard to follow the plot when so much action is happening on screen, since the English subtitle is relegated to the corner of the screen.
Arslan: The Warriors of Legend is a hard game to judge. It has an intriguing story and the classic polished tried and true Warriors gameplay. As it stands, fans of the anime and people who love Warriors games will be able to get the most enjoyment out of this one. For those of you looking for something a tad bit different, you may have to look elsewhere.