Available on PC, PlayStation 4
We played on PlayStation 4
At first, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence was as much my enemy as the warring factions in the game. The complicated tutorial only got more complicated as time went on. It seemed like hours passed before I began to understand the intricate gameplay mechanics of this historical strategic war. But once I did get my bearings straight I had a good time with Sphere of Influence. It didn’t grip me like other strategy games, but I was determined to bring peace to 16th Century Japan.
You can choose between nine historical campaigns where you take control of one of Japan’s’ warring elite families. No matter what you pick the goal remains the same: uniting a divided Japan. During different campaigns you’re presented with little vignettes that are specific to your chosen family’s history. It’s a nice way to give context to the tangled rivalries and conflicts you’ll encounter during your conquest.
The extent of my experience with strategy games starts and ends with Fire Emblem, Age of Empires, and Civilization. I was not prepared for the depth of gameplay that Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence required. It took me a number of hours to get acclimated to the game’s deep strategic system. This was something I wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t writing this review.
As expected, Nobunaga’s Ambition’s learning curve is steeper than Mount Everest. I was completely baffled during my first few sessions, not knowing what each command meant. I had to spend a lot of time reviewing instructions and going over text popups to understand basic gameplay mechanics. Beyond that, the game is obviously designed for PC, and those controls do not transfer well over to PS4.
Nobunaga is rated T with descriptors for mild blood, mild language and viloence. The game deals with mature themes within Japanese history. Violence and death being at the forefront. Beyond that the game is incredibly difficult to understand. Younger gamers may have a hard time grasping its complicated system. Some of these are so comples, even older gamers would find it difficult.
It’s also incredibly text heavy. When starting out you’ll need to read what feels like pages of instructional information that’s vital to learning how to play the game. And it doesn’t let up much later on.
I didn’t enjoy Sphere of Influence as much as I do other strategy games. But if you’re big on tactical gameplay and East Asian history this title might be for you. It’s a tough game to learn but with enough time invested, it can be a rewarding strategy experience, one that we don’t see much of on consoles.