NOBUNAGA'S AMBITION: Awakening was provided by Koei Tecmo for review. Thank you!
It's time to pull your forces together and conquer the warring states of Japan! Nobunaga's Ambition: Awakening is a real-time tactical simulation that will see you trying to unify the country under one banner. Choose one of the many scenarios in game, select a clan, and conquer the land. Grant the new territory to retainers who will develop your clan on the land and enact policies to help govern and maximize your profits to build your strength up. Use cunning strategy and sheer power to bring Japan together like Nobunaga has always dreamed of.
This week has been a big strategy week for me, constantly playing new games with different takes on the genre, but none felt as unique in setting and interesting as Nobunaga's Ambition: Awakening. At first the game seemed a bit daunting with the tutorials giving me a general overview of what to expect, but as I played and learned, I really felt entranced into the world. Managing the key resources (food, soldiers, and money), enacting new policies, marrying into alliances and diplomacy specifics, and commanding the battles all feel meaningful and enjoyable. I also love the commitment to history and how specific events, as well as the scenarios, play out.
This is a game veterans of the Nobunaga's Ambition series will easily be able to dive into, but it could be a little harder for newcomers due to the tutorials being a bit more general. I was able to figure it out just by playing around, but it still took its time to understand the more intricate mechanics and how the stats of the officers affected the game. Some might also find the visuals a bit simple, though I personally thought it was quite appealing. There is a lot to love here regardless of these small issues, but there are some compromises to be made when it comes to the Steam Deck.
Nobunaga's Ambition: Awakening can run well on the Steam Deck, very well, but it does exhibit some odd behavior. In the settings, there are 3 graphics presets: Prioritize Performance, Standard, and Prioritize Visuals and we can't change specific settings at all. On top of that, each of these presets do behave in weird ways.
First, the game will drain more than it needs to, especially on the Standard and Prioritize Visuals setting. Without a TDP limit, the game would drain over 20W, but in reality, the game could be fine with a TDP limit of 7 and keep drain around average10W - 12W. Second, the game will continually bring the framerate to 30 FPS. The Favor Performance option can bring this to 60 FPS without much extra drain, but throughout the game, it will go back to 30. There will also be some stutters when going quickly across the map and check out different continents.
There is one way to bring the game back to 60 and not drain all of your battery, you need to turn TDP limit off for a moment and then turn it back on. This will get the game back to 60, but it won't last long. Even without a limit, this would keep happening. Because of this and the minor stutters, I felt there was only one truly stable solution, using the Prioritize Performance option with a 30 FPS cap. Because of this, a TDP limit of 8 to keep battery down, with a battery life of around 3 - 3.5 hours, and there were no stuttering issues.
Nobunaga's Ambition: Awakening doesn't have 16:10 resolution support, so you will have those black bars above and below the screen, but it does have cloud save support!
There is controller support, but there are two issues. The first issue is that controller support isn't recognized with Steam Input. This means Steam will default to KB+M controls for the game, which doesn't completely work. To fix this, just change the controller scheme to "Gamepad with Joystick Touchpad" and you should be set. The second issue is that the game will show PlayStation buttons, so instead of ABXY, you will see shapes. I didn't see any option to change this to show the correct labels, but it is still playable:
Nobunaga's Ambition: Awakening is a challenging and engaging real-time strategy game that feels just as unique as it looks. While it can look a bit daunting for newcomers, veterans of the series and real-time strategy fans will find so much to enjoy in a game that was hard to put down. There are some compromise to be made to play on the Steam Deck, but as long as you are okay with 30 FPS, and seeing PlayStation icons, this will be a fantastic game to play on-the-go!
Our review is based on the PC version of this game.
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Nobunaga's Ambition: Awakening is an interesting and deep strategy game that needs some compromises to run well on the Steam Deck.