tapevulture I’m like somewhere around 35%-50% of the way through it on the ps3 that I panic bought when the store was shutting down, and I barely open it because switch on coffee table. I do love that the story beats get to be really dark and delivered somewhat nonchalantly! which brings me to the game I wanted to talk about
I recently finished Oninaki. I really like this game. I definitely loved it at the outset, but my feelings on it were probably impacted with how infrequently I opened it (which is much more a consequence of trying to progress in like ten things at once than it is not wanting to play this game). It’s basically just an ok-feeling beat em up that is sort of stuffed into an RPG. I really like going through a whole map in this game to just grind up my dudes. The story is also really interesting; the premise is that you serve as part of a police force in a fantasy world where your main job is to ensure that the souls of the dead can be reincarnated by releasing all of their grief. Death is a constant theme, and you get a sense right from the start that your character, Kagachi, is totally numb to it. He’s an anime pretty boy while being the gruff, insensitive a-hole stereotype, but not in an over the top way (like, for example, Cloud* or Archer). I also really like the character models; all the people have these semi chibi models that are somewhat realistically proportioned. Overall, I think the art and the world has a cohesive style that feels incredibly appropriate. It feels like it could be a Ghibli fantasy world and also seems to take some cues from Twilight Princess (somewhat including the fact that one of your party members is a wolf you ride, and definitely including the mini maps that seemed identically designed), my favorite Zelda (for admittedly timing/nostalgia reasons).
The story has vignettes that gradually give way to a central plotline. I might prefer the earlier sections, it’s hard to say. The story does build towards the ending, although many of the big story beats felt underwhelmingly delivered. I think that part of that is because the game has very few cutscenes that aren’t driven by dialog boxes. There is Japanese (which I don’t speak) voice acting, but it’s not fully implemented for most dialog. A lot of it is articulations like Zelda npcs on a dialog box. This might have hindered the impact of some of the story. The pacing also somewhat feels like it slows towards the end of the game, but that might be my fault. I played the combat sections much like how I did my third or fourth Pokémon game, trying to level up all my guys somewhat evenly.
I definitely extended and kind of sterilized my playstyle in the last half of the game. The battles are these pretty imprecise action segments that are carried by sound design and some great impacts. The problem with the way I played was that I wanted to use all the party members somewhat evenly, even though I got my favorite bud in the first or second mission. This approach ultimately lengthened my time with the game and definitely spread the story out plenty at times.
The party members are all very different action characters and play very differently. Each character also opens up their moveset and damage output considerably while you level them up. You can have four party members with you at any time and switch between them one at a time. I like this system, although I feel like there wasn’t a whole lot of reason to swap between characters mid battle. I mostly played and replayed maps with the weaker members of my party until I got to the last stage and realized that I had been intentionally avoiding my strongest and favorite characters. I switched to only my A-team for what I expected to be the final stretch of the game, and I definitely had a much better time. It does definitely still feel like you could just use one party members for every single battle in the game, which feels a like a flaw, even though I don’t know why.
With all those caveats and nitpicks, I still thoroughly enjoyed the battles. You have soulstones (materia) that you can use to add poison or just increase attack damage, and the upgrade system allows weapons from the first chapter to remain numerically viable through the whole game, which I love. The special moves all felt really meaningful, and some of them have tricky ranges that feel incredible when you nail them. The battles have some action elements of dodging and maneuvering that somehow work pretty decently with the primarily stat-based progression of enemies and party members.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this game, and the ending gave me a pretty unique feeling, and not just for a game. There’s a switch demo that I’d recommend you checking out
I also cracked into Into (lol) the Beach recently and like it a lot so far. I was primed to have a real brain crunching time after Tim’s mention of it, but I find the short battles to be really enjoyable strategy puzzles where prioritization is key.
*I haven’t played Final Fantasy VII myself and have a tangential knowledge from watching some gameplay of the remake