Third time's the charm for Tokyo RPG Factory? It certainly seems like that's what the studio are hoping with their upcoming action RPG Oninaki, which looks and feels entirely different to the developer's first two games. Square Enix recently released a demo to give us a taste of what's in store with this adventure all about death, the departed, and the laws of reincarnation. I played around for a couple of hours with the story and the combat, and I think this is definitely Tokyo RPG Factory's most interesting game to date.
In the world of Oninaki, there's a group of people known as Watchers who have the ability to travel between the Living World and the Beyond. They use this ability to guide lost souls to the afterworld to allow them to rest in peace. Some of these souls can become Daemons, powerful creatures that a Watcher can call upon in battle to assist them. You take the role of Kagachi, who became a Watcher after his parents died. Quiet and focused on his job, it soon becomes apparent that being a Watcher is not an easy life.
The demo is split into two parts. The first half previews the first hour or so of the story, and gives you a little insight into the themes and world of Oninaki. I don't want to spoil anything, but it seems like a game that's going to pull on your heartstrings a lot. The initial quest, of taking a young boy to say goodbye to his parents for the last time before his soul is set free, was surprisingly touching. I wasn't expecting to be so invested so early on. For Kagachi's gruffness, he shows signs of vulnerability multiple times in the demo too, so I'm hoping he'll be a little bit more than your typical RPG protagonist. I'm that much more interested in seeing what kind of journey Kagachi goes on, and just why he became a Watcher.
Exploring the first couple of areas in the demo, I got a feel for Oninaki's world and mechanics. You view the world in an isometric-esque perspective and run around some basic maps, one in a forest-like area and another in an underground dungeon, fighting groups of enemies every so often. There aren't many puzzles to solve, but one of the coolest things about Oninaki is how it integrates the Watcher's skills into the game. As they have the ability to cross between the living and dead worlds, so too can you do this in game environment by "Crossing the Veil". I had to cross back and forth between the worlds numerous times to either access teleports or open up new paths, and I found this to be a really fun way to progress.
As this is Tokyo RPG Factory's first foray into action combat, I was eager to see how the early game fared with it. You have a basic attack which is assigned to one button, but you can also have four separate skills which you can map to the circle, triangle, R1 and R2 buttons on PS4. Honestly, the combat didn't set my world on fire, but that's maybe because I only had access to the first hour of the game. Mobs of enemies had little variation, and it felt like I was endlessly mashing the attack button and occasionally throwing in a skill just to vary things. It felt very generic, busting my way through the same enemies over and over.
One thing I really liked though is that Kagachi is accompanied by a Daemon in battle. You can have four of these equipped at any one time and swap between them at any point in battle. Depending on what Daemon you have out, your weapon is different. Your initial Daemon, Aisha, gives you a katana, which you can use to slash through enemies. Other Daemons give you access to a scythe, a hammer, and a lance, so there's a good amount of variety on offer. You can pick these Daemons up as you progress through the game.
Daemons are also what grant your character skills, and depending on what Daemon you have equipped, you have access to different attacking skills. Once you use these skills, they need to recharge, so it stops you from using them over and over with a recharge time for each ability that isn't too long. Your Daemons each have their own individual skill tree, which means you can access new passive and active abilities, as well as unlocking memories. These memories provide an insight into each Daemon's story: into just who they were before they passed away and became what they are now. This is yet another story element I'm excited to dig into, just to find out what each Daemon has been through or why they partner up with Kagachi.
I'm cautiously optimistic on Oninaki. I want to praise Tokyo RPG Factory for doing something a little bit different with the story and gameplay, but I hope there's enough variety and little bit more snap to the combat. Right now, it feels a little too slow and button-mashy to keep me interested in the combat for a long campaign, but the world and story is already grabbing my attention, and that's something I can't say for the studio's previous two efforts. You can even transfer your data to the main game, so why not give this a shot! The demo for Oninaki is available now, and the full game is due out on August 22nd for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Windows via Steam, so make sure you check into RPGFan as we approach release!