Last updated on August 4th, 2019
Oninaki is the upcoming action JRPG from Tokyo RPG Factory. This sombre tale follows the story of a Watcher as he tries to guide lost souls to a peaceful passing, as those who remain trapped by their own torment, can cause monsters to swarm endangering the living. I tried out the demo to see how this story about the beyond pairs up with it’s unique Daemon combat, and whether it’s worth the venture past the introduction.
Oninaki Preview – A Soulful Adventure
Genre: action-RPG. JRPG, hack ‘n’ slash
Developed by: Tokyo RPG Factory
Published by: Square Enix
Release date: August 22nd
Platforms: PC, Playstation 4 (Demo Preview Platform), Nintendo Switch
- Experience action-RPG combat with real time battles, making use of the Daemons Battle System.
- Customise your play style by enhancing different Daemon skills and abilities with their individual skill trees.
- Bold and vibrant graphics with contrasts between the Living World and the Beyond.
- A soulful storyline with emotional scenes, events and interactions.
- Choose from Story Mode to experience to the narrative or Battle Mode to jump straight into the action.
- Explore different cities, locations and travel between each area.
Story & Setting
The story Oninaki is quite sad, but honestly it’s more intriguing than depressing. The story follows a newly orphaned Kagachi who struggles with the passing of his parents. His friend’s father consoles him but also explains that he shouldn’t grieve as his parent’s spirits will not be able to move onto their next life. While you might be kind of surprised that children in this universe are given such a serious explanation, the world of Oninaki doesn’t shy away from the afterlife, in fact, death and what happens next is well known.
But the adventure begins with a now grown up Kagachi who has become a Watcher, a role which helps guide lost souls to continue onto their next life. Kagachi must contact souls in the Beyond and help them cross over by finding out what unfinished business keeps them in the Living World. But there is also danger that ensues as their anguish seems to attract monsters.
As much as I want to go into more scenes that were experienced in the demo, as there were some really touching and also beautifully dark animated moments, I don’t want to spoil too much.
There are two modes in Oninaki, Story Mode and Battle Mode. Story Mode offers the full story, quests, exploration and combat. While Battle Mode puts you right into the action, letting you face off against monsters, one after the other. The title is ultimately a single-player action-RPG with hack ‘n’ slash mechanics that uses a cooldown system.
The demo allows you to experience a portion of the story, and it’s quite a bit, which was surprising. I maybe played for 30 minutes in Normal difficulty, watching the story unfold and getting to grips with the Daemon system as well exploring the world.
This game doesn’t follow the usual RPG structure where you level your character’s skills directly, but rather let’s you choose different Daemons to put your points into. This creates a lot of room for flexibility as each Daemon features their own weapon type and number of moves you can choose to learn from their Skill Tree.
Since the demo only allowed you to try out two Daemons in Story Mode, I tested out Aisha and Zaav. These two have very different movements, Aisha can move quite speedily, zipping forward at a moment’s notice and can perform some fancy sword moves. While Zaav is more slow paced, but with a two-handed spear that deals some mighty damage. He does have a movement skill but it’s much slower with his jumps. I found this method of abilities to be really different, swapping out Daemons depending on how you want to deal with enemies. It’s quite fun not having a settle on just close range or long range, but having the best of both worlds.
While combat provided some fun abilities with each different Daemon choice, the standard attack is pretty much all you have as you wait for abilities to cool down. You don’t have resources such as stamina or mana to determine how many abilities you can use, but rather you have to watch a cool down bar to find out when you can make your next move. This was a little annoying at times, it made combat feel a little slow, however there are nodes on the skill tree that can help increase speed of abilities reoccurring. As you level you will gain more abilities for your Daemons, which you can then work into fights.
That being said, combat felt quite slow in places, it’s not quite as fast as I was expecting it to be. There are three levels of difficulty for each mode, and Battle Mode is suppose be much more fast paced but we’ll get into that next. Don’t expect any block or parrying, it’s straight up hack ‘n’ slash from what was shown in the demo. Killing enemies at times only respawns more enemies, it was a bit repetitive at times. There is an Affinity meter which when it hits 100%, can unleash a sort of rage mode with Manifest which reminded me of Kingdom Hearts 3, you have higher damage as you take out enemies while Manifest is active.
This mode is completely void of story, if you just want to go beat up some enemies and test out your combat prowess with up to four chosen Daemons, this is where you do it. Providing an onslaught of foes to fight, you can see how far you can make your way through the map. The area you explore is similar to places you visit as you travel from area to area in Story Mode.
As I said before, killing enemies causes new enemies to spawn, and this also happens in Battle Mode. So you will find you will need to kill a bunch of foes in one spot before you can move on. You can even create more of a challenge for yourself by choosing Maniac difficulty which sets to provide harder hitting enemies but better loot. It’s suppose to be faster paced, but found it not that different from normal difficulty in Story Mode.
You can switch between Daemons mid-battle if you decide to try a different tactic, this makes fights quite versatile as you can suddenly switch from close range to long range if you wish. It does take a few seconds to switch, which feels a little sluggish in my opinion but this could be to stop you spamming Daemon abilities and use more strategy for your fights.
There are number of enemies known as the Fallen, each have their own attacks which include abilities to slow you down. There are also bosses that are a lot larger and possess powerful moves which you will need to counter, these ranged from quick smash down movements to firing projectiles. As you battle them they get added to your Memories which will give you a breakdown of their strengths.
The Living and The Beyond
The core concept of being to able to travel through the living world and the spirit world is really what makes this title stand out. Not only are you given some beautiful surrounding, but the Beyond provides inverse colours, making it seem otherworldly.
Sometimes you will need to venture to the Beyond to track down a lost soul or to simply be able to move from one place to another, when there are gaps in the living world. This creates almost a puzzle challenge in some places and I hope this carries on throughout the whole game.
Each world holds their benefits, the Living world you can interact with barrels and other breakable items, while I didn’t come across any items in the demo, hopefully these will give players something to loot in the full game. You will find monsters lurking in both dimensions, which gives you plenty to fight.
Audio & Visuals
The art style of this game is done in an anime style and it also reminded me a lot of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild but with a simpler design. The cel shaded characters are cute which really contrasts the serious subject matter. The surroundings while not overly detailed, the city is pretty to look at and has plenty of NPCs to interact with. I really liked that the Beyond is done in inverse colours, which helps to show contrast between the planes.
The soundtrack is quite laidback in places as you venture through the town or world, but the battles against bosses are more upbeat and are just as enjoyable.
Voice acting is in Japanese with English subtitles, cinematic are voiced, but you’ll notice later interactions with NPCs will only have a few words voiced and then remaining are just grunts or sighs. I don’t think this takes anything away from the experience and just kind of adds to the charm.
Honestly, what made Oninaki shine is it’s story mode, the whole concept is really intriguing and the characters you meet are heartfelt. I can tell there are going to be some moments that really hit you in the feels in this one, as one particular scene stood out during the demo, which you just have to experience for yourself. The story is bleak as it deals with death and the passing of loved ones, but it’s really different how it deals with grief.
The Battle Mode however felt a little lacklustre, but I should mention the demo was limited in the abilities you could choose for Daemons so maybe there are some extra features that are available in the full game. In my opinion, Story Mode is where it’s at, but I could see Battle Mode as a good way to blow off steam with just taking down enemy after enemy.
If you enjoy an interesting storyline, enjoy a title with some cute visuals and just want to kick enemy butt with a number of fun abilities to choose from, this could be a game for you. This demo really has me curious of where they will take this story and to find out what other abilities other Daemons will possess.
Oninaki releases on PC, Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4 on August 22nd. You can pick up the demo on all platforms.
For more previews be sure to read next Remnant From The Ashes Preview: Sci-Fi Cooperative Mayhem and Night Call Preview – A Gritty Noir Murder Mystery. You can also find out what other titles are arriving this August in Top 5 Upcoming RPGs Of August 2019 (Remnant, WoW Classic, Black Desert And More!).