Tokyo RPG Factory, the studio that brought modern classics like Ya Setsuna and The Lost Sphear to Nintendo Switch owners, offers Nintendo Switch owners a brand new adventure with Oninaki, an action-packed adventure with a rich and dark story that will keep players hooked right to the end. The player takes control of Kagachi, who fulfills his sacred duty to bring lost souls back to the afterlife of his kingdom.
Kagachi lives in a lively and beautifully animated world, governed by the laws of reincarnation. As a guardian, he must ensure that the souls of the dead can move on to the next life without becoming attached to the world of the living, which is why he has turned off his emotions to fulfill his duties.
Because Onenaki elaborates on the themes of death and reincarnation, the citizens of the world have an interesting perspective on death, because they are instructed by their leader, ruler and guards not to mourn the fallen, otherwise they are denied access to their next life. This view of death is very different from that of most Western cultures and, although somewhat depressing, also offers some hope for the idea of life after death.
Fans of Ya – Setsun and Lost Sphear will find a similar story experience at Onenaki. Tokyo RPG Factory has already proven with its previous installments that it can tell a fascinating and emotionally intense story, and this game is no different, although there are some problems with the handling and rhythm here. There are also many Japanese manga and anime, with subtle references to earlier JRPGs. Although Oninaki is strongly inspired by classics like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, it’s a new experience in itself.
Oninaki avoids the traditional turn-based fighting system found in popular 16-bit games such as Chrono Trigger for a more accessible approach to melee and slash fighting, although it does not quite match the other classic games of the genre. Kagachi has the power to control the demons or lost souls of proud warriors who cannot or do not want to cross over to the Other World. These demons act as classes or occupations when equipped, giving Kagachi a wide range of tools and skills, just like the knives in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or the pedestals in the popular anime and manga series JOJO’s Bizarre Adventure.
There are a lot of demons that the player has to face in the main quests of the story, and some of them he has to find himself. Kagachi can only equip four demons at a time, allowing players to mix their favourites with the best team. Each of them has a specific weapon, like. For example, a sword or scythe with its own skills unlocked in the skill tree. The real fight is big at the beginning of the game, but it slowly turns into a repeated press of the Y button followed by a random capacity button. Most of the main enemies of the game will not give you problems, but boss fights can be a real challenge, and it is not the player who is responsible for them.
Since the game has become more action-oriented, you’d think the developers would try to make the entries more accurate and responsive, but unfortunately, I have to say that there were many times when the battles in the game were just slow. Sometimes I felt that my movements were flawed, which made it difficult to avoid my opponent’s attack. It’s no problem with normal enemies, but it gets pretty annoying with bosses who can kill you in a few blows, not to mention the fact that regrowth stains in boss fights are awful. More than once I appeared before the boss after my death, only to be cut twice and die again.
Onenaki also likes to throw waves and waves of enemies at the player, which isn’t particularly difficult, but it feels like the game is taking longer than it should. Immediately after hitting a large group of monsters, expect a large group of spawners to reappear and then again. It gets boring much faster than a game like Secret of Mana or The Legend of Zelda, which is unfortunate because the developers here had a really great basic idea, but the storylines weren’t enough to keep things fresh and interesting.
Of the three games Tokyo RPG Factory has released so far, Oninaki stands out as the best. The landscapes and characters in the shadow of the cells appear to have been painted in watercolour, creating a bright and visually attractive environment. Because Kagachi is able to travel between the rich of the living and the dead, every world is autonomous, even if they share the same landscape. The world of the living is much more detailed and beautiful than that of the dead, but also has its own visual charm, thanks to a minimal colour palette.
Although the world is beautiful to look at, there is not much to do. The capital Kagachi is full of shops and lively houses, but the player can only handle a handful of NPCs and there is only one shop to visit. I wish I could have explored the world more on my own, but it seemed a bit lifeless (maybe that was the point, because the game is about death?).
The background music is a bit boring compared to my Setsuna movies, sometimes not at all. There are also quite a few Japanese voices, which brings a lot of emotion into the story, although the text has its ups and downs.
Oninaki is a solemn story of death and rebirth that would be one of the greatest if it weren’t interspersed with repetitive battles and a few slow assignments. Only the direction of art requires attention. I’m Setsuna and Lost Sphear fans looking for a similar experience probably won’t find it here, but what they do find is still worth it.
- Graphs – 9/10
- Sound – 9/10
- Gameplay – 6/10
- Late call – 7/10
Final thoughts: WARNINGS
Fans of previous Tokyo RPG Factory games will undoubtedly rush into this one, but their game will probably not be what they expected. Too much unnecessary effort prevents Onenaki from achieving the greatness she could have achieved, despite her remarkable artistic direction and moving history.
Tony’s been playing since he could walk. Pokémon Blue Version helped him learn to read. His greatest achievement is not only playing the entire Kingdom Hearts series, but also understanding it.
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