PS2 gained a point to envy by hosting this game.
I lost my count on how many times Capcom managed to slap me for not believing in their products. So far, I lost every ace up my sleeve for betting against them. It is only a matter of time when I'll be getting their game I don't trust too much to regret for not having it tried earlier. First they did that with Resident Evil 2 which turned the fire on. Then with Code: Veronica they showed me they can not only make a horror-survival game with an action, but with a story as well. With Devil May Cry, they captured the essence of action combined into horror-survival, and with Dino Crisis 2 they showed me what a dynamic horror-survival should look like. And now, it was a turn for Onimusha to bow me down my knees like I never allowed any game before.
After an opening cinematic which is as long as astonishing, you immediately start with the game that suits the standards of Capcom. Nothing too slow, but nothing too hard for well trained player that is capable with coping anything new until one figures all the controls and their weaknesses. Graphic in this game is something amazing that after playing all those newer PS2 titles, I could easily consider this game as their rival whereas in fact it is one of rather earlier PS2 titles. Background are so detailed for a horror-survival game, and character and monster models are in such a high-quality that when some breathtaking FMV comes to scene, it doesn't seem like being able to wipe the floor with the ingame elements just like that. Graphic is one thing you won't complain about in this game.
Game is a bit more action-oriented, but don't expect something like DMC out of it. Let's say you'll never be able to clear out the monsters entirely out of some room, there'll always be some. And they are great at surprising you when you least expect. Another secret charm of the game. Rooms are dynamic alright (fire torches, waterfalls, moonlighting over the water surface), but you cannot interact with nor can you destroy anything you please, though. But don't despair, there's lot more variety to experience in this game than I am able to describe it via words.
You play as Samanosuke, a samurai who's driven by the events followed by the kidnapping of a Princess Yuki, with whom he's blood related. Samanosuke travels with his loyal companion and a sidekick, a femal ninja, Kaede, with whom he'll set on a journey to save the princess and get to the bottom of a story that lies behind the secretive invasion of demons. As much as story may not look as attractive, it is once you get together with it, it's quite immersive and holds a few surprises to backup that.
Although the setting is in medievil Japan, the weapons are suitable, and the moves are just too good to expect. When you control Samanosuke, you will be able to get three different types of swords/blades for melee combat and special magic attacks, and bow and rifle as ranged weapons. But the real fun starts when you get your controls upon Kaede. You cannot drain souls of demons with here, hence you cannot use any special magic attacks nor heal yourself in any other way but using medicaments or healing herbs. But she can jump! Boy, can she jump! ;) With a single blow, she can take out one of the scariest foes, by jumping over them, and slicing their throats or skewering them through their very spine. Her controls alone make this game so much more interesting due gameplay.
A little about the music, which is, no wonder, orchestral. Cinematics have wonderful suites, but real gem is the ingame music in certain areas on the map. When game becomes more... ahem, dynamic, and you find yourself outside the buildings, there are few tracks there that are simply breathtaking as to how they enhance and embrace the dynamic of your current situation.
An ending is a bit tough so if you don't prepare yourself with some serious medicaments up your pouch, you just might get forced to reload a few steps back and try saving more of your healing resources. Also, games which have so great ending cinematic should allow the players to watch that very endings cinematic once we manage to beat it, and not always to be forced to play through the end battle each time we want to see one (thanks to some extracting programmes, skilled can bypass that, but still).
The Bottom Line
This is a game that really marks PS2. If there's one game that is able of doing that, it's this one. Didn't they invest helluva lot of resources in making this one to try and demonstrate the power of PS2 back when the console just passed through its birth? Well, it sure is a great game, no matter what. But due to its contents, it may appeal mostly to those that don't mind nor typical horror-survival contents, nor some heavy action in due situations.
But basically, this is like the only game which has no flaws of any kind, has long enough cutscenes, not much of them ingame, and not too long when ingame so it doesn't make you relax your fingers too quick, it doesn't have forcing music, but a solid background one to tag along with your progress, doesn't make it utterly difficult, and even if it does seem difficult, after few deaths, an easy mode will become available. Doesn't have bad voice acting, but rather funny sometimes, gives you great set of moves, brings you right into the heart of the story by having such a dense veil of atmosphere to keep you focused, doesn't repel you not the least in its graphical element, and leaves you just wanting for more. Guess what, there is more.