These days, when it comes to video games, there is very little that makes me sit back and go “wow”. However, out of nowhere, in the middle of last year, one such game from a developer I’d never tried before, did exactly that. As the credits rolled on a completed game, I sat back, dropped the controller, mouth agape, and said out loud to no one, “Flipping heck, that was awesome!” The game I had just finished was ‘I am Setsuna’; developed by Tokyo RPG Factory.
Having enjoyed that game so much, I hurriedly searched to see if there were any other games made by this developer, but I was shocked to find that this game was in fact the very first from them. It’s a nearly top down 3rd person JRPG, with classical turn based combat, simple gameplay mechanics, fun visuals, and, most importantly, a deeply moving, emotionally impactful story, which has an agonizing choice that you as the player have to make at the end. You invest so much into the characters, that when all was said and done, and as the credits rolled, I went over and over in my head, “did I do the right thing?” This game stayed with me long after I had finished it, which to me, is a sign of something special, and something that doesn’t happen that often anymore.
Then, very quickly, came Tokyo RPG Factory’s next game, ‘Lost Sphear’. I have to admit, this is one of those games still sitting on my shelf waiting to be finished. However, I played the demo of it and was hugely impressed all over again. It carries on with the same style as ‘I am Setsuna’, but with better gameplay mechanics during the battle sequences. Much like its predecessor, critics have lauded the game for its excellent story, deep RPG elements, and improved combat, with a ‘2.0 battle’ system, as they call it.
In a short space of time, and with only two games, this developer has quickly established itself as a major player in the JRPG fraternity. Their games are increasingly known for their outstanding storytelling and brilliant narratives, all built around excellent and traditional game mechanics.
So when their third game was announced, much of the expectation was that they were going to create a third game in the style of the first two. How wrong could you be?! They didn’t. The direction they’ve now taken doesn’t just look a little bit better, it looks a lot better.
Suddenly, you have a cell shaded ‘Breath of the Wild’ or ‘Gravity Rush’ looking, real time combat action RPG, with larger on screen characters to control, that look fluid, tight, smooth and frankly, incredible. The reason this was so much of a shock was because the graphics, although perfectly adequate for the first two games, were probably the weakest aspect of the games as a whole. The art style was impressive, but the actual detail itself was pretty basic.
As more details came out, it was known that there would be the same deep, traditional RPG elements, along with new combat gameplay (that perhaps they will dub their 3.0 battle system?) based around a story of a watcher who protects life after death.
Bearing in mind that Oninaki is now attached to a new fluid combat system, with upgraded, stunningly smooth gameplay and graphics, if the story is anywhere near as breathtaking as ‘I am Setsuna’ was, or as critically acclaimed as ‘Lost Sphear’, this game has the potential and pedigree to be something very special indeed.
Join us at Total Gaming Addicts on the 21st August 2019, as we endeavour to find out if the potential oozing from this amazing upcoming developer is as good as we hope it will be.