When I covered the ONINAKI Daemon Trailer, I was very interested from the beautiful artistry I seen, as well as the actual fighting system. I was curious about the game, but thought no more about it.
A few months later I saw that a demo was available on the Playstation Marketplace I was highly intrigued, after much idling, I finally gave it a download and will treat you with my thoughts on it.
ONINAKI starts off on a very sour note; this game has already displayed from the very beginning that it will be a story that is relatively dark. You will be dealing with death throughout the story and it seems as though that is the main focus; dealing with reincarnation and how to best guide souls within the next life.
The open scene shows you losing both of your parents. You are told early on that grieving the dead is bad, as they get lost because of the regrets of the living if done so. Anyone who has ever lost someone they love know that grieving their loss is a normal part of the process, but this game’s world makes it seem like a bad thing to do so.
As the story itself progresses, you realize how guiding the lost souls to the proper path to ensure they are reincarnation takes importance over anything else. You do what is necessary to keep the balance, even if that means killing someone’s parents to guarantee their kid will be able to cross over past death’s door. This game pushes all feelings aside for the sake of your job, I find many people may be turned off by this but I feel the concept is interesting enough and done well enough to warrant it being the main basis for the game.
Your main character, Kagachi, despite his tragic upbringing, seems uncompassionate and only cares about this job as a Watcher. I believe this is due to his past and having coped with it by understanding that the natural order must be maintained, taking this to heart and turning into one who understands the consequences of not adhering to this delicate balance of life-and-death. I believe this anti-hero personality direct clashes with the often overly-emotional due-gooder mindset we see from protagonists in role-playing games. Mayura, your companion, seems painfully aware of Kagachi’s past and does her best to offset his generally indifferent attitude. However, at the end of the day she also cares about her job as a Watcher and is not afraid to make the same grim decisions as her counterpart.
Something more ominous seems to be stirring, as the end of the demo continues the mystery caused by a chance meeting when Kagachi was younger directly after his parents died. This could be getting at the larger plot of the story, something the demo hints at and gives glimpses of, but never fully realizing to tempt the player into wanting to reveal the truth once the full game is released.
This game is an Action Role-Playing Game, so you can think of it as more interactive than something that is turn based. You fight with normal moves, but also enlist the help of “Daemons” to help you in battle. Daemons are lost souls that cannot be banished, reincarnated, or damned. You are able to summon different daemons to aid you in a fight at any given time, using their abilities and skills on the fly (which even changes your primary weapon).
The craziest part of fighting is the fact that are you able to “Cross the Veil” into the world of the dead. You will have different monsters on both sides of the veil, so just because you cleared out an area in “The Living World” does not mean the inverse is also true. Also, you can be one-hit killed Beyond the Veil if you do not defeat certain monsters within The Living World that are cloaked with an absorbable miasma. Killing said monster allows the world of the dead to be seeable and for you to survive encounters without being killed in a single blow.
The battles are beautiful with the actions you are able to do, albeit I feel they are a bit slow and can be deemed tedious with the feel they give off. However, when you are fighting hordes of Shadow, those who have lost their attachments to The Living World, it can feel satisfying when you are aiming to progress the story. Also, special actions like Manifestation when you have built up power to a certain limit allows you to access greater powers for a limited time, making encounters more enjoyable by temporarily putting you into a super-powered state.
Overall, I feel that the combat within this game may get a bit repetitive, but it is also something I feel will be enhanced as you obtain more daemons and abilities. The story carries along ONINAKI, but the vehicle of combat does have enough fuel to power it on its own.Daemons
These are the current Daemons available within the demo; these particular screenshots were taken during the “Battle Mode” portion which is available after you have beaten the story. This mode shows characters with most of their moves unlocked to get a greater feel of how the game will play once you have powered up and obtained different Daemons and abilities.
ONINAKI is a game I definitely want to see through, the mixture of both story and action is an alluring ideal. However, the real driver to this entire demo experience is the driven narrative that has to do with death and the reasons behind the characters strong belief in reincarnation and not grieving the dead.
The demo in itself offers very good insight for anyone who is curious about the gameplay and story direction. I recommend anyone who is interested in ONINAKI give this demo a try, they definitely represented what you can expect in the final product nicely, especially with a “Battle Mode” to give you something to do after you are done with the story snippet given and want to know more about what leveled up characters and Daemons are capable of.