Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading.
In this explanatory review, we’re covering Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening by developer Koei Tecmo:
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening (The Explanation)
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is the 16th entry in a video game series that has spanned 40 years. The very first game was Nobunaga no Yabō and was released on the PC in Japan in 1983. The game was quite a hit in Japan when it first released but it wasn’t until 1986 when the second entry in the title, Nobunaga’s Ambition, saw release outside of the land of the rising sun and was also received a positive reception. This has help the series grow and become rather well known in RTS game circles.
So, what exactly is Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening? Well, it is a real time strategy game set in the Sengoku period of feudal Japan. This was a period of time where all the clans and heads of feudal states (Daimyos) began pushing to expand their territories. One such person was Oda Nobunaga of the Oda Clan. He was a warlord whose goal was to unify the whole of Japan under a single rule. Although the game is based around the ideals of unifying the country of Japan, playing as Nobunaga is actually optional and you can choose from one of the many other important clan leaders from that time period.
Regardless of who you choose as your commander, the goal is the same, to build up your state to be as prosperous as possible and expand your regime across the land using military might or political persuasion. To increase your funds, you will need to develop the lands under your ownership and receive taxes from the people who live there. You can seize crops and fairs to increase your financial income as well as provide supplies for your military so you can send them out to occupy neighboring territories and seize them.
You can develop your territories with the likes of markets, depots, fortresses, and training camps to improve the economy, warehouse provisions, strengthen the territory or improve the strength of your military. All actions in Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening take time to implement. Building a market can take 60 days or so which in real time is only 60 seconds or so. Sending your military to seize a territory or lay siege to a castle also takes time, and plenty of it if the particular castle you wish to seize is quite a distance from where the military unit was stationed.
The main gameplay loop of Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is primarily from a strategic standpoint with managing resources in order to fund your campaigns. When it comes to combat, it is more akin to an interactive chess game, where you have limited direct input so you have to rely on when to strategically strike or make a tactical retreat. If a neighboring territory is weak from being besieged and could be ripe for the taking, you will need to take into account that other forces will be considering the same thing. This means you will have to choose whether to risk losing your military in securing new territory or risk sharing a border with an expansion hungry enemy clan.
Throughout your gameplay, you will have suggestions from fellow Daimyos and officers in your clan. These can be anything from further developing a territory or provoking a riot to cripple the stability of another nation or to outright attack it. Whether you choose to listen to these suggestions is up to you, and sometimes it is worth paying heed or dismissing the idea as it could lead to a counterattack that you may be all too exposed for.
Although, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is a popular series and is very nicely presented with great music and great visuals, the gameplay is a little too complex for my liking but I can deeply respect that there are many other people out there that will probably appreciate and enjoy this game much more than I can. For those that like strategy games like Risk, or Civilization, they will find a very extensive and challenging experience with Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening with its several different campaigns and many different clans and regions to choose from. It is also by far the most fleshed out game in the series that can be enjoyed by series veterans and those familiar with strategy games and are looking to jump into this series.
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening (The Gameplay)
Developer: Koei Tecmo
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Simulation, Strategy
No. of Players: 1 (Single System)
Release Date: NA|EU: July 20, 2023
File Size: 9.2 GB