Cladun Returns: This Is Sengoku!

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Cladun Returns: This Is Sengoku! Game Poster Image
Complex retro adventure relies heavily on nostalgia.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Some basic educational value, Players compare equipment statistics, character placement, learning how changing one variable can affect others. Also basic reading skills in following plot, objectives.

Positive Messages

While story puts forth general message of helping those in need, it's a thinly veiled excuse to get players to go through dungeon after dungeon. In fact, there's not really any clear objective other than getting to exit, collecting new items.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players create many of their own characters. While some basic templates include everything from Swordsman, Merchant to Saint, "Vile Priest", ultimately, they're all blank slates. There are also characters that can be helped, adding them to your list of available allies. While these particular characters do have some backstory, it's fairly basic.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, but inventory, character management are a complex mix of positioning, menu navigation, constant swapping of items. Dungeons can also be a bit frustrating, requiring certain skills, items to access some areas, defeat certain enemies in an attempt to encourage players to constantly replay same areas.

Violence

Game is a hack and slash style dungeon crawler, with players using variety of medieval weapons, magical spells to fight monsters. 8-bit retro style, though, keeps violence from appearing too graphic, enemies simply flash, disappear when defeated.

Sex

Minor innuendo in some dialogue, one player template for a character's dialogue type, listed as "Sexy", is slightly suggestive.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some references to drinking in dialogue, personality type "Drunkard" is an option for customized characters, some characters smoke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cladun Returns: This Is Sengoku! is a retro-styled hack and slash role-playing game (RPG) available on PC, PlayStation 4, and PS Vita. Players can create and customize pixelated characters to team together while challenging various monsters with an arsenal of medieval and magical weapons and abilities. While violence is a key part of the hack and slash gameplay, the 8-bit style of the game reduces its impact significantly. The game can get a bit complicated when it comes to navigating menus to select equipment and abilities, and some dungeons can be difficult to complete if your characters aren't geared just right. Finally, although the content relatively tame, there are instances of sexual innuendo, as well as alcohol and smoking, which occasionally pop up in the dialogue.

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What's it about?

In CLADUN RETURNS: THIS IS SENGOKU!, players take on the role of an amnesiac wayward soul who awakens in Arcanus Cella, a realm where spirits gather when they're unable to move on past their demise. Their only hope lies in finding a way to ease the burden of some regret they left behind when passed. After these souls are free of that regret, they should be able to return to the living world through reincarnation. But something's gone wrong, and these souls, even free of their regrets, are still trapped. Now it's up to you and your Vassals to help these lost souls find their way back by rebuilding and restoring Arcanus Cella while continuing to aid those who wander in. To do so, you'll create your own customized team of heroes and allies, arm them with a host of equipment and abilities, and travel into the monster filled depths to fight back against the forces of darkness, hopefully discovering the truth behind your mysterious past along the way.

Is it any good?

This retro themed adventure is fun, but the complexity of its gameplay and the reliance on nostalgia makes this best for classic gamers only. They say that sooner or later, everything old is new again. For video game fans, that means going back to the pixelated glory of 8-bit adventure hijinks. Cladun Returns: This Is Sengoku! takes players back for a fresh take on the old school RPG formula. Whether or not it succeeds depends on just how much time and effort you think you're willing to invest in it. Some of the features are fun, like the "Pixel Editor", which lets players customize the look of their characters and items. It's easy to get lost for hours tinkering with the blocky palette to squeeze out as much detail as you can muster. It's also a great step in making the adventure feel more personalized. Of course, the game's biggest draw is in the sense of nostalgia you can't help but feel when you start it up.

The problem is, once that feeling fades, what you're left with is an overly complex adventure with a heavy focus on grinding and repetition. The game's plot feels paper thin, and exists only to give players a reason to keep diving into dungeon after dungeon. That's not counting all the times spent repeating past dungeons because you were missing a key skill to fully explore the area, because you weren't equipped with the right elements to take on a particular baddie, or just because you're a completionist trying to break the current speed run time. There's also all the time you'll have to spend in town, setting up various "Magic Circles", odd arrangements where you have to use your allies as a sort of extra equipment, unlocking boosts and bonuses while acting as a sort of meat shield, absorbing damage during combat in your stead. This is also the only time you're able to swap out weapons, armor, and abilities, which can be particularly frustrating when you're in the middle of a dungeon and you realize you really could have used that nifty staff or hammer you forgot to equip. None of this makes Cladun Returns a bad game, but it does make it a lot more complicated than it ever needs to be.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about customization in games. How does the ability to create your own characters, equipment, etc. help to make a more personalized experience? Do you craft characters similar to yourself or do you create someone completely different to escape into and why?

  • Talk about how games have changed over the years. What are some reasons that classic or retro-styled games have a timeless appeal? What are some of the things that games have gained and lost over the years?

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