Game Review: Oninaki hits right note in terms of looks, story and music
Despite a gripping storytline, the spotty combat and unnecessary dialogue prevent Oninaki from reaching its full potential
Developer: Tokyo RPG Factory
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC, PS4
Price: PC: Rs 2,499; PS4: Rs 2,999
Oninaki has you playing a Watcher, Kagachi, who is responsible for protecting souls in the afterlife. The belief is that reincarnation is the foundation of life and their connection to the world of the living sometimes can prevent them from moving on. The Watchers job is to make sure the dead move into the cycle of reincarnation by doing whatever necessary—in some instances by sacrificing the living. The game chooses to drive this point in the first mission, giving you a taste of the deep and dark story ahead.
Oninaki looks good; the anime-style graphics and the world is also well done. It is not very colourful and sets the right tone for the subject and ambiguity of death. The characters in the game are also well designed—though we felt like we had seen similar versions of monsters before.
The music again plays a significant role in Oninaki. It pairs appropriately somber music for the more touching scenes and energising music for boss monster fights. None of it feels forced.
Every Watcher also has the ability to switch behind the veil, essentially to a purgatory sort of dark world, with monsters and ways to get around physical obstacles. The switching is instantaneous and adds another layer to the gameplay.
The linear storyline takes you through a journey, which includes exploring a dungeon and sprawling towns with lots of non-player characters (NPCs), while searching for the Night Devil. While the story is good, the huge blocks of text you have to read for them isn't fun. This is especially true for players unfamiliar with the Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPG) format. If you do end up reading through, you will be rewarded with the deeper story that can't be summarised with all the cutscenes.
The developers, Tokyo RPG Factory, have done a great job with Oninaki. The story though uncomfortable is gripping, the music sets the right tone and the art style and the look of the game is quintessentially JRPG.
Kagachi is accompanied by daemons, who are souls that can fight and are trapped in the world because of some secret. You can unravel the secret through the course of the game as your bond with the daemon increases. Daemons lend their strength, abilities and at times possess you for greater combat ability. The idea is great, because you can switch between four daemons—it also changes the way Kagachi fights. These daemons get upgraded as you progress. Most of the time, however, you won't feel the need to switch between them and end up upgrading the daemon you use the most. There is also a vast menu of weapons in the game, which can enhance combat. The actual combat, however, has a lot to be desired. Since it's an action RPG, most of the combat is real-time, but the tactics to fight every monster are similar and get old after a while. We mostly ended up rushing in, striking and stepping back, as the boss monster unleashed their signature moves. It can get old quickly and is disappointing because the idea behind the combat and gear is so interesting.
Despite its spotty combat and rambling dialogues, Oninaki hits all the right notes in terms of look, story and music. Though the story can make you uncomfortable, it is a good one nonetheless. If you love JRPGs, you may be inclined to forgive its flaws, but players who would rather focus on combat will be disappointed.
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