Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence – Ascension – Review
Follow Genre: historical turn based strategy
Developer: Koei Tecmo Games
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
Platform: PC, PS4
Tested on: PS4

Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence – Ascension – Review

Site Score
Good: Extensive game, many hours of play, historically accurate
Bad: Complex mechanics not for everyone
User Score
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence – Ascension is the 15th installment in this series of historical turn based strategy games. While not all were released in Europe, most of them were. The game explores an interesting period of time in the history of Japan which isn’t covered in history class for western young adults. You can definitely learn something while playing the game about a situation which actually occurred on different places around the globe. Although they might have occurred at different times in the history of the world as we know it today. It sheds a different light on the age of ninja’s, shoguns and daimyos.


The story is set in 16th century Japan also known as the Sengoku period and is based on the historical character of Oda Nobunaga. At this point in time Japan is a divided country, while there is an imperial court and an emperor to rule the nation, this is mostly a ceremonial role. The emperor has no real control over the various daimyos (local warlords), who run their own clan and fight amongst each other for more power and land. Add several natural disasters to the mix and you get a very unstable situation filled with political intrigues, peasant uprisings and murder. Not everything was bad, trade with China developed, the use of money became widespread and many developments were made in agriculture. With the events in the background several men rose up and started on the road to unify Japan, Oda Nobunaga being one of them. He rose from the shadows, although being from a good family he was a rebellious teenager, to become daimyo from his clan to a conqueror on the road of unifying Japan once and for all. This was also the time when firearms were introduced in the country.


Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence – Ascension is a long game with a story to match. At regular intervals the game treats us with a nice 3D cutscene or a beautiful 2D conversation between characters to progress the story. Historical quests show up on queue when the date of the actual historical event is upon us. This all adds up to a great history lessons of the Sengoku period.


The graphics are stunning and made a great evolution in 30 years that the series exists. The style is oriental and recognizable for this era. The world map is excellent and when you zoom in to the individual areas the visuals are decent, you can look around in 3D. In-game story telling as well as the tutorial happens in 2D where characters are shown each on their own turn when they deliver their lines of dialogue, this is a nice addition to the 3D cut scenes. Looking at the battles in close up betrays the fact that the main focus of the game does not lie in its combat system. This is not a deal breaker, if you enjoy the combat you can overlook its imperfection, if you don’t you can always skip the battle and let the AI decide the outcome.



The soundtrack that was made for the game, especially the intro is glorious and sets the mood well for the rest of the game. Sound effects while playing or while in combat support the background music to pull you deeper into the game. The voice actors did a good job bringing the characters to life during the serious moments but also during the lighter conversations when there is room for a little joking around.


Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence – Ascension is a historical turn based strategy game. You take control of your clan both military and economic. Turn by turn you expand your power by conquering nearby territories with a strong army or smart political decisions. While the military part is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require much explanation, the political side has many layers and options that add complexity to the game. Forging long lasting alliances, appointing competent advisors, exploring and upgrading your cities, arranging clever marriages and keeping you people happy are just a few of the things you have to consider. The final goal is to gain total control of Japan, to unify the country and end an age of fighting and chaos.


The game starts with choosing a scenario, this is basically the point in time during the Sengoku period where you start the game. Depending on this choice different clans will be available, the aim here is to be as historically correct as possible. You can start when Nobunaga was first born or after his death and try to accomplish what he couldn’t. Playing as Oda Nobunaga is completely optional. Regardless of what you choose as a campaign the game plays in largely the same manner. There is a lot of territory ready for the taking. It will take a lot of time to play the whole game at a 100% which is an extra challenge for the diehard gamers. The game will automatically come to end when you take control of Japan personally or together with allies and vassals and invoke the “end all wars” policy. Another way the game can end is when the Sengoku period ends so you can’t keep playing indefinitely.

The game is turn based in the sense that it has a council state in which you issue commands, both economic and military. When you’re happy with your tactics you can execute them and time will pass, slight adjustments can still be made. You’ll also receive a monthly council report letting you know what happened and how much income or loses you had this period.

When you decide to engage the enemy, or when they engage you you’ll enter the combat mode. During combat you be able to position the troops and issue orders to the commanding officers in the field. A battle is often won/lost depending on the size of your force and position on the terrain that you hold, however the officers can make a difference in an evenly matched battle.


Because the game gets rather complex and has many intertwining mechanics many of those are blocked of at the start of a new game. This is great to get used to every aspect of the game and makes it a lot easier for new players to get into the game. It’s still a lot to get through but smaller chunks helps. To unlock more features you’ll need to climb the social ladder. You’ll start of managing a small town but as things progress and the scope of the game begins to broaden you can appoint people to take care of these tasks for you, since you’ll be dealing with larger problems, however you can still jump in and micromanage. Appointing others to work for you also opens you up a whole new set of dangers, in the form of intrigues and betrayal. Keeping your enemies close and you friends closer has never been truer. Keeping loyalty amongst you subjects in checks and bestowing them with promotions, gifts or even marrying them into your family is imperative to your success.

It’s easy to compare the game to the to the Total War series but both games focus on different things, combat in Total war is much more in depth, but the cheer amount of options you have to manipulate your clan, officers and enemies is much more refined in Nobunaga’s Ambition.


Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence – Ascension is a game worth investing your time if you love turn based strategy games with a historical background. However if you are a newcomer it can be quite boring at first but once you get the hang of the game’s mechanics you will expand your knowledge and enjoy capturing and reinventing yourself as a conqueror. Not only is the story of the game interesting, the gameplay does enough to entertain you and challenge you as far as you’re willing to go.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence - Ascension - Review, 9.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

I am an Illustrator/Artist who studies Concept Art and Game Design in my free time. Designing things is in my blood and I am always very curious in making games. Motivated and dedicated to become better in every way I can. You only live once and I intend to fully enjoy it! As for gaming itself I do prefer to play the following games: FPS, RPG, Action Adventure Games, Fighting Games, Hack and Slash.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.