Don’t you just love a wee demo?
It’s like getting to go over to someone’s table at a restaurant and have a wee nibble at their dinner without paying for it. It’s a free mouthful and everyone’s invited. Well this week we’ve been treated to a wee sample of Oninaki, the latest game from I am Setsuna and Lost Sphear developers Tokyo RPG Factory. But is it a lovely wee sausage or some very pink looking chicken? (No more food references – Lee)
Oninaki opens with Kagachi, the playable character in the demo, mourning the loss of his parents. We’re told that grieving can cause damage to the souls of the departed and will hinder their chances of a smooth reincarnation. The grief can leave souls wandering around the Beyond, the land between the living and the dead, potentially turning into monsters as time and the weight of their anguish cause them to forget their earthly origins. When souls get caught up in the mess between our world and the next, it’s the duty of Watchers to help shuffle them along, either by trying to fix any unresolved issues or by battering them with a sword.
After a time skip of twenty years, we find Kagachi has grown up to become a Watcher and we’re introduced to Oninaki’s combat system. In the game, your weapon is tied to a lost soul known as a Daemon and these Daemons can take many forms, such as swords, spears and all the other usual suspects you’d expect from a JRPG.
In the demo we get to use Aisha, your starting Daemon and sword, and Zaav, a big spear guy. You can easily swap between the two using the right analogue stick, and they have equipable and upgradable skills; enemies drop Sword stones or Spear stones which you can use on your respective Daemon and Null stones which can be used on either.
Beyond the differences in how the Daemon’s attack, they also come with extra movement abilities, so with Aisha you can dash and Zaav is all about jumping.
The fighting itself has shades of Diablo, with quickly recharging abilities and waves of enemies. It does get a touch repetitive at times, but the harder enemies that appear throughout the demo encourage you to swap between your Daemons so you can keep hammering the special moves. These bigger enemies are often tied to expanding your access to the Beyond and it’s a very neat mechanic.
At any time in the game you can slam your finger down on the left trigger and enter the Beyond, but in some areas your access is limited and straying too far into darkness can make you very vulnerable, as one hit will end your wee life. Finding and fighting these big bad’uns, called Sight Stealers, helps to increase your view into the Beyond and move into new areas.
While loads of games have trodden this ground before, like every other Zelda game, it’s still fun to see it implemented here, although there was a bit of a pause when moving between areas in both docked and handheld mode on the Switch.
The performance of the game on Switch is a little inconsistent at the moment, with some noticeable stuttering when there’s more going on.
An early scene introducing the first town really chugs along, but fingers crossed this is just a demo issue and won’t impact the full game.
While the demo is only about an hour or so long, you’ll be able to carry over your progress to the main game, which is a nice touch.
I think Oninaki stands a very strong chance of being the most interesting game Tokyo RPG Factory have worked on so far. The combat is fun and easy to pick up, the game looks really nice and the story isn’t scared to go in directions you aren’t expecting; an early scene where two parents agree to an early death to accompany their dead son into the next life was so genuinely surprising that I actually stared at the screen in shock.
I don’t think this’ll be the same surprise smash hit Square Enix had with Octopath Travellers, but it’s got me interested in picking up the full game.
In food terms, it’s like a really good club sandwich but the tomato keeps, like, slipping out from between the bread and falling onto your plate and you go to pick it up and get mayonnaise on your fingers (You’re fired- Lee)