Nobunaga's Ambition: Taishi

Game review by
Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media
Nobunaga's Ambition: Taishi Game Poster Image
Challenging historical sim appeals most to strategy fans.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Historical details about Sengoku period of ancient Japan. Players learn about, interact with key historical figures, and can choose to follow in history's footsteps or write an alternate chapter with different outcomes. Sheer number of people included can make it harder to track who is who if you're not studying this era of history, but playing the game could interest students in learning more about this conflict-filled time.

Positive Messages

Idea of unifying country under one emperor or ruling lord, alliances with other provinces, and caring for your people are good, but frequent conquests, treachery, espionage reduce positive impact.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While players can decide whether their character will act positively or negatively, many of the characters act exactly like their real-life counterparts did. Hard to tell who's a positive role model when killing and conquering is foremost on everyone's mind.

Ease of Play

Players can be walked through tutorials of every single aspect of gameplay, getting a sense of what they need to do to be successful. But players are constantly challenged by managing the needs of their people and military with political and provincial intrigue. Even with tutorial help, you can lose things quickly.

Violence

Combat frequently happens between provinces. Calvary and musketeers frequently face off in battle, but only decreasing numbers of army strength shown, without blood or gore. Descriptions of historical attacks, violence pop up in cutscenes, but text doesn't go into graphic detail. Gunfire heard.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Latest in the long-running Nobunaga's Ambition franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nobunaga's Ambition: Taishi is the latest installment in the long-running historical strategy simulation franchise for the PlayStation 4 and Windows PCs. Players take on the role of a feudal lord trying to shape and unify the nation under their rule with political, economic, and military policies shaping their decisions. While conquest and battle frequently occur between the armies of provinces, with gunfire heard in combat, no blood is shown. Descriptions of battles and violence happen in the text of cutscenes, but these aren't explicitly detailed either. While in-depth tutorials walk players through facets of the game, the difficulty of managing your fiefdom can be very challenging, and it's easy to lose territory or battles due to something completely out of your control.

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What's it about?

NOBUNAGA'S AMBITION: TAISHI is a historical simulation game set during the Sengoku period of Japan, when the country had splintered into dozens of provinces and fiefdoms, each wanting to claim the emperor's throne. Players take on the role of the leader of one of these small territories in one of six historically accurate campaigns, trying to assert themselves over their rivals and neighbors to eventually become the most powerful noble in the land. But this is easier said than done, since players have to juggle the demands of their people and their political ambition. This includes building and improving trade routes to become economically powerful, producing enough supplies through farming to support your population and military, and creating policies that can bend weaker neighbors to your political (or military) might. Will you follow in history's footsteps, or will you write an alternate history and create something the world has never seen?

Is it any good?

While the gameplay in this strategy sim is the most accessible it's ever been, the high difficulty and complexity of gameplay keeps this game solely for history or strategy fans. Nobunaga's Ambition: Taishi is the latest installment of the long-running franchise, which covers the entire Sengoku Era. Your goal is to take over and unify the land under your command, and fortunately, this chapter of the game has subtle refinements that make the gameplay a bit more accessible. For example, your advisers will put forward policies for you to consider, which can be unlocked on a role-playing-game-style skill chart. This allows you to tailor the advancement of your kingdom based on whether you're focusing on economics, politics, or army strength. The game also offers lots of in-depth tutorials to get your kingdom up and running, especially if you've never played this game (or kind of game) before.

But even with assistance from advisers, players shouldn't be fooled into thinking that this is an easy game. As a player, you're given an illusory sense of being able to control your kingdom as much or as little as you want. There aren't enough options to micromanage, but the general details give you barely enough info to make wise decisions. As a result, much of the gameplay involves allocating resources to different areas around the map: investing in a trade route here, shifting troops there. The effect is essentially managing numbers on a virtual spreadsheet that affects the lives of your people, both during battle and peacetime. Worse, even with tutorial help, you can still lose all of your progress thanks to random events, like floods, trade monopolies, or surprise invasions. With the tutorials, it's easy to start building your kingdom, but it's just as easy to be crushed, and it's practically impossible to recover from these events. If you're not a strategy or history buff, this game won't appeal to you, but if you're interested in a challenge, this sim will keep you busy for hours.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. Nobunaga's Ambition: Taishi is a very involved simulation that can easily take hours to play and progress in, so how can you ensure that you take a break from the screen?

  • How does the lack of blood and gore affect the violence in Nobunaga's Ambition: Taishi? Does it seem historically inaccurate, or is it acceptable because the focus of the game is more on the strategy and not on the combat?

  • Does playing a historical simulation make you interested in learning more about that particular time period and nation? Why or why not?

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