Touken Ranbu is a free-to-play collectible card browser video game released several years ago in Japan with a worldwide launch last year. What we have here is a 3D rendition of the series based up the long long standing musou gameplay from KT. Is it a match made in heaven? lets take a look
The Touken Danshi, 15 blades incarnate who had been drifting aimlessly without a Saniwa master, are suddenly attacked by the History Retrograde Army – a faction seeking to change history to their benefit. After the battle they are assigned by the Government of the Time to undertake onslaught investigations to try and reverse the altered timelines during the Sengoku Era.
Having had no experience with the series prior, wasn’t really expecting much but came away interested by the premise and the large roster that guarantees a favourite or two. To go along with that the roster of characters are broken off into several teams and there’s a good dynamic between the characters. Though the game does give off some otome vibes, it doesn’t seem to go down that route much outside of photo mode and honmaru events, so you can just focus on the fighting if you choose.
The game has a surprisingly good presentation for the most part, no doubt helped by the anime styling and generally smaller stages compared to other musou games. As expected your characters are well modelled and the enemies sport some interesting designs at times as well when they fill the screen, with really only the lack of AA and filtering on the shadows letting the visuals down.
Full voice acting throughout and a fitting soundtrack round off the presentation well, but what about performance? The good news is that its relatively good, even portable, with not much in the way of frame drops even when the screen is full. Docking doesn’t really offer any visual improvements, but likely locks up any of the minor drops you may see portable.
Contrary to the series card collecting roots, this release takes a more action orientated direction with a musou template at its core. The setup will be familiar to veterans of the genre, but it has been streamlined a little when it comes to the combat and stages. Things start off a little too simple, and the stages are minscule at first before opening up a little, but the variety does improve as you level up the characters to unlock more abilities that you can equip as you see fit. There is also an ‘easy’ control method for those not accustomed to these games that simplifies things further, but even newcomers may skip over that option. To be honest, even for a musou veteran like me, the gameplay is probably the weakest aspect of the game as it lacks the depth of something like a Dynasty Warriors – no doubt intentionally to cater to a new crowd this would draw in.
When not out tacking time travelling foes, you are also left to manage your honmaru by assigning different members of the group to oversee numerous areas. You’ll immediately notice that the best aspect of this is that it allows characters to level up when not out on missions, and the further you get through the story the more positions within the hub unlock. You’ll also come across story events and interactions between everyone here too, but that’s probably something more in tune for those interested in the series, probably something that applies to the photo mode too and the odd mini game that you can play
Touken Ranbu Warriors is yet another spin-off into a different franchise for the venerable musou style of gameplay that’s more geared towards a new audience than anything else. That doesn’t prevent it from having a good story and roster of characters though, the Switch even has some good presentation for the most part, only some streamlining of the musou gameplay, mainly noticeable to veterans, hampers the game. Touken Ranbu fans will likely already have this snapped up, but the game could also provide a good barrier of entry to musou newcomers.
A competent take on the burgeoning sub-genre that’s perfect for Touken Ranbu fans & newcomers.