Let’s hit the beat!
Platform - Playstation 4, PSVita
Release Date- 19/05/2017
Review code supplied by PQube
Akiba’s Beat is Aquires’ latest title, somewhat sequel/spin off of the popular Akiba’s Trip series which made it over to our shores the other year. Taking the form of an RPG this time over a free roam beat ‘em up we once again don our Otaku gear and head into the mean streets of Akihabara, how did it fare? read on to find out!.
Akiba’s Beat much like it’s predecessors is set in the very much real Akihabara which the game describes as “The Mecca for Otaku”, for those familiar with either the district or the previous game you’ll be right at home. Rather than dealing with pesky light shy Vampires like last time you are dealing with “Delusions”, stuck in a groundhog day style situation it’s down to Asashi Tachibana to dungeon crawl, smash enemies and make himself look stylish to save the day.
The narrative isn’t as strong as other titles available on the market, especially if you are playing the Playstation 4 version, it seems to wear it’s inspiration on it’s sleeve as the more Otaku focused take on Persona 3/4/5. The groundhog day aspect of the story actually works quite well keeping you on your toes noticing differences between each time you play the fated Sunday, it’s a serviceable story but nothing that is going to win any awards any time soon.
The character writing on the other hand coupled with the voice acting which I will get into really damages the main narrative and draws the title down. It has one of the most unlikeable main characters to ever grace gaming, the self proclaimed NEET (I had to google NEET!) who whines and moans about EVERYTHING, curiously irritating cat maids, pushy females of destiny and everyone’s favourite, the stern but caring best friend who is far too needy for his own good.
The characters are all basic anime stereotyped, condensed down into their most maddening and irritating state, there is a little development over the story and optional side missions but the initial few hours leave such a horrid taste in your mouth with it’s backwards pandering to the “Anime crowd” that’s borderline insulting.
Graphically Akiba’s Beat is quite a let down on the Playstation 4, everything seems washed out, character models are fuzzy and random NPCs are just coloured silhouettes, it’s very apparently that this is a Vita port and not one of the stronger ones. Enemy models are generic and uninspired and the dungeons aren’t the most interesting in their setting, everything is serviceable but doesn’t even attempt to go the extra mile.
Most disappointing is the actual setting, you have titles out now like Yakuza 0 and even Akiba’s Trip 2 which had some fantastic looking cities to roam in. The fact that this is part of the Akiba series yet the city looks like something knocked up on the Dreamcast and not the vibrant “Mecca of Otaku” that it was in Akiba’s Trip 2 is puzzling and damaging to the overall product.
On the audio side of the game things aren’t much better, much like the graphics and writing you get the good but it’s outdone by the bad. You have shop jingles when you run past and plenty of IDOL tracks playing throughout the game but these are dwarfed by the painful English voice acting. The latter can be avoided thankfully due to Dual Audio but for those of you with the preference of listening to it in english then prepare for some of the cringiest spoke dialogue you’ll ever suffer.
So now we get to the real question, how well does Akiba’s Trip work as an RPG inspired by music? The short answer, it works but only just. As I mentioned earlier the city is quite drab which is fairly damaging to a title which boasts that it’s the closest representation of Akihabara yet. Within the first hour or so of gameplay you unlock quick travel which you’ll more than likely abuse as there is really nothing of note to see when exploring the city, any side missions or shops are marked on the map so you really don’t miss anything.
The dungeons are fairly well designed and don’t tend to overstay their welcome which works well for the game. Item and stat management is all done in fairly average screens and sounds more complicated than they are actually are.
Later on in the game you unlock the ability to have a Maid as your navigator for the dungeons which is quite a nice feature allowing you to somewhat customise your experience and find which Host is going to cause your ears to hurt less!.
The combat in the game is reminiscent of earlier Tales of titles in that it’s semi free roam arena based, real time and that it has stamina limits. Later on in the game you unlock enchaned overdrive abilities which provide more moves and higher damage output (plus some nifty cutscene action!) permitting you can stay within the beats of your character’s signature music. Once again it’s a case of the combat being serviceable but nothing beyond that, I never felt that it truly clicked with me and I never went out of my way to grind just for enjoyment of combat, if anything it felt like a stiff version of the weaker Tales of combat.
I’ll make no bones about initially being excited at the prospect of an Akiba’s Trip styled RPG infused with influences from the Persona series so you can imagine my disappointment when I say that I honestly didn’t think much of this title. I played Akiba’s Trip 2 on the Vita & Playstation 4 to death and it honestly set me back when I initially loaded the game up and was greeted with a drab lifeless version of the city and some muggy visuals. The gameplay never really clicked with me beyond it being average and the title seemed to be missing some much needed charm with it’s horrid cast.
Akiba’s Beat on paper seemed like an instant win for the genre, unfortunately everything is far too safe and paint by numbers. The writing and visuals are all over the place and as a console JRPG there are considerably stronger titles worthy of a purchase, if you’re playing the title on the Vita knock the score up 1 as it fits the handheld model more but overall keep expectations in check to avoid disappointment with this one.
- Otaku focused RPG
- IDOL Culture represented
- Serviceable JRPG
- Paint by numbers gameplay
- Drab graphics
- Horrid Voice acting
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