One Piece: Burning Blood is a fighting game based on the ‘Paramount War Arc’ of the anime/manga One Piece. This is an arc that comes quite late on in the One Piece story, so if you’re new to One Piece this isn’t the game to start on - not only will you be lost, but there are also some massive spoilers (no spoilers will feature in this review).
When you first load up One Piece: Burning Blood there is only one option available to you: Paramount War. This is the game’s story mode, taking you through the Paramount War arc via several chapters, each dealing with different key members of the story arc. At the start however you will only get the choice of Luffy. Luffy’s arc acts as the game’s tutorial, but once you’ve completed a stage you can go back to the main menu where all the other modes have been unlocked. On the face of it it’s a weird choice to make you play the story mode before anything else, that is until you realise that these modes are best enjoyed with a full cast of characters that have been leveled up.
The game tells its story through a combination of narrated story boards and full animated cut scenes. Burning Blood has you travel across a board, defeating stages to move on and play through the whole arc. Some stages have special conditions, if you accomplish them you will be given extra, branching stages that you can complete. These extra stages are usually harder than the main quest stages, while adding even more to the story. As you complete stages you’ll get experience for your characters, leveling them up will increase their attacks and defenses, so if you’re having trouble on a particular stage gaining a level or two could be all the difference.
There are a variety of arenas to play in, having you pummel different enemies from the anime/manga. You have your basic fighting game controls such as attack, heavy attack, jump and guard, with the usual array of combos you get in most decent fighting games. Burning Blood also has special skills, each character having their own list of unique skills to deploy. On top of this is you fill your awaken meter in the bottom left you can enter awaken move, unlocking more skills and given you the ability to deploy your ultimate move!
You are taken through each part of the game, making sure you can deploy all of the game’s mechanics, however there is a lot to this game and if come back to Burning Blood after a while of being away there is a good chance you’ll have forgotten how to deploy certain moves. If all that isn't enough some stages (and most of the other game modes) will have you able to switch between a max of three fighters, timing the switch properly will deploy a counter or a combo move. Along with support characters to give your fighters a boost this game has a ton to keep you interested in!
On the subject of a ton of stuff to do; when you finished/want a break from the main quest line you can take your unlocked and leveled characters to the variety of other modes. Burning Blood comes with the fighting game staples of Free Battle and Online where you can pit your skills against the computer or a living person, but Burning Blood also has two other battle modes that are very interesting.
Wanted Versus is a mode that has you taken on a variety of different combo’s of enemies that have some tenuous connection to each other. Completing the vast amount of battles will get you money that you can use to buy new characters. Nothing overly different from the normal game but pretty cool to fight different characters that you don’t get to in the main quest.
The last battle mode is Pirate Flag Battle. This mode acts kind of like gym battle in Pokémon Go: You pick a faction from a choice of all the different One Piece crews, you then have to challenge other factions who have managed to capture places from the anime/manga. By challenging the places you then have to fight a collection of fighters that have been put in there by another player. These battles can be either between the computer or an actual player. Each area has a life bar, when you challenge it the bar will go down by a certain amount, at zero you’re faction will then own that area. The idea of this mode is to capture as much of the map as you can in a certain amount of time. While this is the most interesting game mode I highly recommend you go through the main game first as the players you will come up against are highly leveled and will be extremely difficult for a newbie to defeat.
One Piece: Burning Blood is a very fun game for fans of the series, however it lacks the difficulty of other fighting games to make it a favourite of fans of competitive fighters. People who haven’t read/watched the anime/manga will also get very lost in the story, meaning the game’s really only for the demographics of those who already know the franchise. The game is accompanied with a great Japanese voice cast (no dubbing), awesome visuals and a delightful soundtrack lifted straight from the anime.
One Piece Burning Blood (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
A fun game for the fans who want to relive one of the most exciting arcs of the One Piece franchise. Lack of difficulty and appeal to those outside of the fandom and complex mechanics that can be easily forgotten unfortunately limit the player base. However with a variety of game modes that’ll have players coming back for more, this is a must play for the fans.