Oninaki, a hack-n-slash, action RPG, is the next game from Tokyo RPG Factory. Their previous releases include Lost Sphere in 2017 and I am Setsuna in 2016. These games were developed with the intention of being the love child of revered games like Chrono Trigger. The Oninaki demo looks to be following a similar formula as the previous games with humble graphics and a focus on storytelling.
The game opens as your main character Kagachi is grieving for his dead parents. He is quickly told not to mourn his loved one’s death, as it fills the dead with regret. This regret can cause them to lose their way in the afterlife and not be reincarnated.
20 years later….
Kagachi and his childhood friend
Mayura are now Veil Watchers. They travel between worlds of the living and dead
to rescue the lost. Their spiritual weapons, so to speak, are called Daemons,
which are lost souls themselves that cannot be reincarnated, or have been
banished or damned. These Daemons act like familiars, fighting alongside you and
providing your skills. The more you use them, the deeper their bond grows with
you, and in turn, the stronger they become. Soulstones are gathered as your
bond grows and are used to obtain skills from a Daemons’ skill tree. An
interesting side note; the game regards the skill tree as “the visual depiction
of the Daemons soul.” I thought that was pretty clever.
The Right Daemon For The Job
You can have up to four Daemons mapped to the controls at any given time. Changing to the desired Daemon is done by holding up, down, left, or right with the right analog stick. The two available in story mode were Aisha (your starter) who provides a charging dash attack, and Zaav, which you get right before the first boss, his ability is Meteor. This skill is rather reminiscent of Super Mario RPG, as Zaav jumps in the air and a reticle appears on the ground allowing you to utilize a well-timed button press to do increased damage.
Small details and aspects like that are what made games like Super Mario RPG so addictive and fun. It’s nice to see mechanics like that add variety to what can become repetitive combat. I was a little thrown at first when I switched between Aisha and Zaav because Aisha has an inherent dash ability where Zaav does not. He has a jump ability. Aisha clearly seems to be your all-around well-balanced sword fighter for crowds, while Zaav is your heavy hitting single target damage dealer with a spear.
Risk – Reward
Another area of note in Oninaki is an Affinity meter in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. The percentage raises with battle and decreases with ability uses. I found it to be a pretty steady climb to 100% though. At 100% or higher your stats are boosted without penalty, but go over 150% and your stats are significantly boosted at the cost of some defense. A little risk reward system to mix things up.
As Veil Watchters, you can freely
jump between worlds, living and dead. Doing so unveils more creatures and is a
large part of the game’s traversal. Getting from one area of the map to the
next may be blocked off in the world of the living, but switch to the world of
the dead, and the path is open to you. Or, you may find a teleporter in one
realm that leads to an unreachable area across the way. Switching back and
forth between these worlds is fun, and seems like it will be used a lot in
puzzle solving mechanics as the game progresses.
Combat – Hack n Slash
I’m still undecided about the
combat right now. During my few hours with the demo, the combat feels a little
stiff. In a hack and slash game, combat is everything. You want to be able to
string together a combo, heal, and move on to the next target all with a fluid
smoothness. During my boss battle I noticed I needed to full-stop attacking, in
order to use a health potion. It slowed the rhythm of combat for me to a
noticeable extent. That was early on, to be fair. As I played through the rest
of the demo, I did settle into a rhythm and got more comfortable with the
combat. Still, I have my concerns.
Those concerns are exacerbated by
the fact that Kagachi only has four VO sound bites for attacking, and it got
old fast. So much so, that I had to lower the voice sound settings in order to
continue. Likewise, the ambient soundtrack was a little lack luster for me. One
of the larger areas, only had blowing wind and the cawing of crows to listen
The game has a charming aesthetic to it, just like its predecessors. It also seems to have an engaging story to follow. I like many of Oninaki’s concepts and mechanics, as well as some smaller details that are easily missed. I have some minor gripes, but overall, I’m look forward to spending more time with the full release. Oninaki will be available on PS4 and Nintendo Switch August 22, 2019. Oh, and all your progress from the demo will be carried over to the final game, so no wasted time. The demo is out now on the PlayStation Store and Nintendo EShop.
Looking forward to Oninaki? Let me know in the comments below.
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