“One More Light.”

Title: Oninaki
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Tokyo RPG Factory
Publisher: Square Enix
Release date: Out now
Tl;dr: Oninaki plays like Diablo with the gameplay of Chaos Legion wrapped in a sad story about loss.
PC: £40/$50
Console: £45/$50
Family Focus?:Click here for more information

Back in 2014, Square Enix formed a small development studio called Tokyo Dream Factory to make 90s-esque RPGs for the current generation. However, during Square Enix’s E3 2015 Press Event it became known as Tokyo RPG Factory when they announced their first game, I am Setsuna.

It’s now 2019 and Tokyo RPG Factory has released its third game called Oninaki, the first action RPG it’s developed after the first two games were turn-based RPGs. Did they transition well into action RPGs with Oninaki? Let’s find out.

Oninaki follows Kagachi, a Watcher which is essentially a ghost cop. The world of Oninaki believes heavily in reincarnation however it’s the Watcher’s job to see that all souls pass over. Some stay behind because they have lingering needs like wanting to see the person who murdered them brought to justice; others are less revengey and just want to see if their spouse or family are gonna be okay without them. Kagachi encounters a little girl who is being hunted by a mysterious figure known as the Night Devil, an evil swordsman who relishes in the death of innocence so it’s up to Kagachi to hunt him down and defeat him.

Oninaki’s story can get really heavy at times especially if you’ve experienced loss as they explore a lot of different avenues of death including suicide which hit a little close to home for myself. So, if you’re not great with this stuff, or still working a lot of things out, Oninaki may inadvertently drag up some stuff.

In terms of gameplay, you control Kagachi and the daemon he has bonded with to explore various locales to defeat the evil creatures plaguing the land. You’ll run around collecting the loot they drop, varying between weapons and shadestones which have various passive abilities that you can equip to your weapons a few hours into the game.

Loot drops from enemies and chests scattered about, and each weapon has a rarity ranging from common to legendary. You acquire higher rarities from higher-level ghouls like most games. The same can be said for shadestones with the more powerful passive abilities coming later in the game and fortunately, these drops don’t feel too much like a grind either as they drop pretty frequently. It’s a very familiar take on the loot-hoovering gameplay we expect from the likes of Diablo, and while it’s comfortable and easy to fall into the rhythm of it all, it does little to add anything worthwhile to the looting ecosystem.

Each daemon has a different weapon and play style and, depending on the daemon, what you can do as Kagachi. For example, Kagachi’s starting daemon, Aisha wields a katana and has a dash ability for dodging giving you an agile play style of quick sword swipes with the ability to dodge with ease. Whilst, the second demon you encounter is Zaav, who uses a spear and a jump ability, Zaav has slow thrusts and overhead swings that whilst deal a lot of damage can miss if against a fast foe.

The button layout for PlayStation 4 has you use the square button for your standard combos and as you level up your daemons and make your own around their skill tree you will acquire various skills that you can assign to the triangle, circle, R1 and R2 buttons to unleash some devastating attacks and you make those attacks even more devastating with a tap of the L1 button to manifest your daemon provided your affinity has built up to at least 100% and this builds as you fight.

Now, I hear a lot of people complaining that the combat is a tad boring because all you’re doing is tapping the square button over and over again with the occasional tap of one of the skill buttons. But I believe that’s all you do in most action games — unless you’re playing Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden which have combo systems in place.

Yes, Oninaki isn’t super flashy in how the combos are portrayed but we have to remember they are going for that 90s RPG feel where action games were very limited. I feel this is where Tokyo RPG Factory gets a lot of unwarranted negativity in its reviews because people don’t take them from the 90’s point of view. But that’s something to talk about some other time.

Graphically, Oninaki has this cutesy anime style that really conflicts against the dark narrative but that’s not a bad thing by a long shot as most anime do this. Also, the art direction for the towns and areas you explore are just so god damn beautiful with the mixture different colours that makes the world of fantasy and wonder come alive.

The soundtrack is much like Breath of the Wild where you can hear hints of music fluttering around in the background almost giving you that sense of loneliness as you traverse the various dungeon areas. The soundtrack picks up in its story scenes, boss battles, and while you manifest but general exploration has a quiet feel with random bits of music fading in and out.

Overall, Oninaki is an intriguing game that touches on the subject matter of death and reincarnation within religion which most games try to steer clear of. The gameplay might not be for everyone as it can be repetitive but if you mix your daemons and try out various combos with the right skills it doesn’t have to feel like a slog. Plus, Oninaki has a demo if you’re still unsure about purchasing the game.

The Good

  • A deep and dark narrative that pulls you into the world of Oninaki.
  • Beautiful art direction with amazing environments and cool looking characters.
  • A variety of Daemons with different skills and weapons to explore.

The Bad

  • Combat might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
  • Some enemy encounters take a massive leap in difficulty.

Family Focus

Oninaki is rated PEGI 12 and ESRB T for Teen. Oninaki follows some themes such as mass suicide and murder which may be inappropriate for Little Jimmy.

This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by PR for the purposes of this review.