I am Setsuna remains Tokyo RPG Factory’s best game to date despite the studio’s repeated attempts to offer similar, high-quality experiences. After Lost Sphear, which wasn’t really a game, the Japanese developer is back with yet another JRPG called Oninaki.
Although the studio was so sure about the game’s success that it provided players with a demo before launch, things are a bit different for those who played Tokyo RPG Factory’s previous titles. Aside from the nice art style and interesting setting, everything else in Oninaki is average at best.
But let’s start with the best parts of Oninaki, a rather unusual JRPG that looks promising at first, but ends up in a pile mediocrity. The setting is by far the main aspect that makes Oninaki stand out. As the saying goes, death and taxes are the only things that cannot be avoided, and while people in Oninaki can’t cheat the former, they surely have a different view on death.
Reincarnation is the principle that governs the beliefs of Oninaki’s citizens, who are ruled by a totalitarian empress. You play as Kagachi, a Watcher who can cross between the realms of the living and the dead. The Watchers are a well-established order in Oninaki’s hierarchy, as they are the only ones that can find lost souls and lead them to light before they turn into daemons.
The first thing that the game does is to turn your core of ethical principles upside down. Without spoiling the story, let’s just say that Kagachi is responsible for some appalling decisions at the beginning of the game, which left me staring at the screen open-mouthed for a few minutes.
It takes a couple of hours to get used with the world of Oninaki, but these are perhaps the best hours you’ll get. The story does seem interesting at first, but by the time I started to understand what’s happening, I already lost interest. The repetitive, clunky combat is one of the main aspects responsible for the game mediocrity.
In Oninaki, your main character doesn’t have skills that you can improve as you gain experience. Instead, you’ll be using so-called daemons, lost souls that Kagachi can bound to himself and make them fight for him. Each daemon has his or her story and different abilities that match a certain playstyle.
You can only equip four at any given time and you can switch between them during a fight, but many of them are absolutely useless, while others are just weaker than others. Of course, you’ll want to use the most powerful, so the rest won’t gain any experience.
Combat feels incredibly sluggish to the point that the folks at Tokyo RPG Factory thought it would be wise to introduce a skill that your daemons can take if they want to be able to move right after executing an attack. In fact, you must wait about a second after each attack for your daemon to take another action, which completely ruins the combat system.
The progression of each daemon seems interesting and the powers they gain are quite useful. Unlocking nodes on a daemon’s skill tree also allows you to uncover their background story. Sadly, I didn’t find anything interesting about any of the daemons that I’ve been able to recruit during my playthrough.
Combat is definitely one of the bad parts of Oninaki, but, sadly, not the only one. Oninaki takes about 15 hours to finish, so I’d expect the developer to fill the game with ample enemy variety so that I won’t lose interest. Tokyo RPG Factory did exactly the opposite. If you absolutely must play Oninaki, prepare to fight the same enemies over and over again. Also, some bosses appear more than once in the game, which is quite underwhelming.
Let’s talk about the loot a bit. From time to time, monsters you fight and bosses will drop weapons that are specific to each of your daemons. Apart from that, you can loot treasure chests found in the world of the dead for extra gear. The best part is that you can use the duplicates to improved your current weapon. Loot is totally uninteresting and the bare bone upgrading system doesn’t help either.
After a few hours of gameplay with the same daemon I ended up with the several duplicates of the same weapon, but with a different number of upgrading slots. From what I noticed, the drops are based on your daemon’s level, so you’ll always be able to get a better weapon, but there’s no variation at all. The only way to differentiate the weapons your daemon is carrying is through the shadestones that add various abilities.
- Compelling setting
- Somewhat interesting protagonist
- Daemons are a great idea
- Nice art style
- Sluggish combat
- Generic story
- Lack of enemy and loot variety
- Dull soundtrack
- Can become grindy
Clunky combat, flat story, repetitious gameplay, lack of enemy and loot variety make Oninaki a monotonous experience that no one should go through. I wanted to like Tokyo RPG Factory’s latest game, but with Oninaki the studio is taking a backward step from its previous titles.
The game’s unique world can’t save it from mediocrity. However, despite its shortcomings, Tokyo RPG Factory fans who liked Lost Sphear will probably find some enjoyment, at least to some extent.