Publisher: Acquire/Marvelous USA
Genre: Action JRPG
Release Date: 19/5/17
Platforms: Playstation 4/PS Vita
Game Supplied by: PQube
2017 gaming wise, is going down as the year of the renaissance of the Japanese developers, as in the space of a few months of 2017, the PS4/Vita games library has been chocked full of quality Japanese developed games. Even mid level Japanese developers have raised their game so where does Acquires mid level Akiba series fit into this?
Akiba’s Beat is the follow up to the brawling Akiba’s Trip game, which if you don’t know is centered around the very real “otaku” or nerd central area of Tokyo called Akihabara. The map of the game is a faithful recreation of the real place. There however, the similarities end between the two games.
Akiba’s Beat is listed as an action RPG game, but for me it’s more of a visual novel game with some combat elements. The reason is the game has 22,000 lines of dialogue, in its 40 hour play through. I myself have got 4 hours fifteen minutes in, but in that time have only encountered two combat dungeons, each of which only took about 20 minutes each to complete. So therefore, nearly a full 3 and a half hours of my playthrough so far has been nothing more than reading/listening to dialogue!
Fortunately this dialogue has been voice acted in English and is acted very very well. Chris Patton who voice acts the lead role of the character you play “ Asahi “ and Erica Mendez of the other lead “ Saiki Hosino “ frankly are superb! They make a pretty bland narrative, funny, humorous, engaging and entertaining. When I say bland narrative though I mean dull, really really dull.
The premise of the story is that inhabitants of Akiba, are having dreams ( which fits the otaku theme of Akiba ) of grandeur that are then becoming delusional. These delusions are then eating away at the real Akiba and forcing it into a groundhog day continuous time loop. Asahi and Saiki team up to investigate who is causing the latest delusion, and then when they figure out who that person is, enter that person’s “delusionscape” to defeat their internal phantasm and destroy the delusion.
Now the investigation is the part that’s frankly boring, as the clues and dialogue are about as in depth or as intellectually challenging as to who the culprit is, as it would be watching an episode of Scooby Doo! Therefore it gets tedious very quickly when the lead characters take forever to unravel the mystery you already have figured out literally hours ago!
When you do enter a person’s Delusion dungeon, the combat is exactly like the “Tales of ” games. That style is a very basic hack and slash arena, per encounter. The dungeon you enter is also in the style of a Persona dungeon. The moves are a little bit clunky ( just like the Tales series are as well ) but once you get the hang of them, perfectly serviceable.
The supposed “hook” of the game ( clue is in the title ) is that during the second dungeon you enter, you can fight enemies to the beat of music, ( you’re told to pretend you’re in a music video as you fight ?! ) which will then increase your attack power and then also open up a powerful blow. It adds a new spin onto a very basic combat experience, but unfortunately isn’t very well implemented or obvious if your hits are indeed in time to the music.
The graphics of the game are very basic for a next gen title, and frankly I do wonder if the limitations of the PS Vita were taken into consideration for the overall development for both copies of the game. In short the PS4 version looks nothing more than a PS Vita HD port! Even more exasperating and adding to the “was this designed for the PS Vita” train of thought, is the playing area map is a fairly small recreation of downtown Akiba, which if the character didn’t have any boundaries could get from one side of the map to the other at worst in 1 minute. However the map is segmented into regions that have loading times, that get really tedious to have to wait to load over and over again when you’ve barely moved 50 meters!
Apart from this there are shops to buy upgrades and items to help better clothe and equip your characters for battle, some card collectables ( which in 4 hours and 15 minutes i’ve not actually found one yet ) and that’s about it.
Akibas Beat is doing it’s very best to be another version of Persona 5, and does a fairly good job of it. There is nothing wrong with trying to copy and be the best. However it fails to live up to those lofty heights on every level.
The presentation, narrative, graphics, gameplay, and overall depth are just not up to Personas standards. It just feels like a cheap Persona knockoff. However it’s still a solid good game and does have positives, in the form of character development and simple but fun combat, but those good elements, just can’t pull the game through to shine, as it’s just dragged down in the quagmire of it’s dull, very lengthy and very tedious narrative.