Chambara Review

Chambara is an insanely addictive Multiplayer title for the PS4 that delivers quick-paced, highly competitive combat with a twist for up to four players. Using a Local Co-Op model with split screen dynamics, Chambara attempts – and succeeds – to be yet another must-have video game for parties and gaming get-togethers. But what makes this bird-brained title so compelling, and can the multiplayer, competitive action compensate for this title not having a single player/campaign mode available?

Players begin by choosing either Raven or Dove – black or white, basically – whether there are two or four players. Chambara is competitive play, meaning that everyone is out for themselves and the kill count determines the winner. But what makes this game stand out is the implementation of a two-color scene environment, meaning that each character is light or dark and the entire world is limited to that same dual set of hues. This lends a Stealth aspect to what could have been just another arena-style deathmatch, giving Chambara unique qualities that lend beautifully to the gameplay. In the menu, players can queue up levels with sets of colors pre-determined; then, once the level begins, each character can virtually disappear while standing in a patch of color they match. However, as you maneuver around the location – which differs from mansions to towers, and abandoned mines – it’s possible that a new angle will reveal the outline of your opponent when they’d otherwise been disguised perfectly.

Because of this Stealth/camouflage system, Chambara is a mix of sneaky ambushes and outright brawls. Standing in one place can be useful, briefly – but as your opponent(s) changes perspectives you might become incredibly visible and prone to their attack, all while being unable to see them in return.  You can opt for a simple black/white color scheme, two shades of blue, or something that’s garish and honestly rather distracting like neon pink and pale green. Either way, thanks to the 3D positioning, Chambara keeps everyone on their toes at all times.

The characters of Raven and Dove are another fun aspect of this title. Running around as a bird, wielding throwing stars and staves and even a stuffed mackerel is hilarious. Whenever a player lands a kill – which is treated with a brief but satisfying slow-motion, freeze-frame victory shot — the fallen bird explodes into a puff of feathers, maple leaves, numbers, and other confetti debris, which stays in the spot. After the five rounds are completed, and a winner is named, the summary scene features a small replay video of the entire match. It’s amazing to see how often you were just a hair away from your enemy and didn’t even realize it! I would have preferred the replay with some counter that indicated which kill was which, but overall, it’s a fantastic element of the gameplay that is sure to provide more laughs, bragging, and triumphant cheers.

The only disadvantage that Chambara must overcome is that it’s quick, exciting arena-style of gameplay offers no single player option, and although it makes for a great party game, it does run the risk of becoming repetitious after extended sessions. Still, despite these challenges, Chambara’s simplistic style and 3D Stealth quality ensure that each battle feels unique, fresh, and as dangerous as the last. If you’re looking for something that’s perfect for two players – or four, if your TV screen is large enough to support split screen into quarters rather than halves reasonably – then Chambara is a worthy addition to your library.

Reasonably priced with a small learning curve and plenty of mayhem to have, this title is artistic and challenging without being too difficult for younger players.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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