Oninaki is the latest title by “indie” powerhouse studio Tokyo RPG Factory. Being created to make “classic 16bit era JRPG” titles with a hint of the indies, Oninaki is the studios chance to break the mold and show everyone what they can do.
Oninaki stars Kagachi, he has quite the traumatic childhood when both of his parents are taken from him abruptly. Following this he becomes a “Watcher”, a guardian of souls so to speak. In the world of Oninaki, when you die you get reincarnated, if you die with a lingering thought or regret, that keeps you in a spectral plane, the Watchers then assist the souls to complete their task and continue the path to being reborn.
The core premise of Oninaki is incredibly strong and raises a whole plethora of questions and several of the scenarios you’ll encounter are quite hard hitting. On the flip side of this, the writing feels rather weak and subdued, especially when it comes to the main cast. With such a strong and intriguing idea it’s a shame that it’s mostly wasted save for a few places here and there, even the mighty edge lord bad guy can’t save the story from turning out slightly above average.
I do feel I need to throw a special mention to the Daemon Stories, you find out alot more about the various Daemon who become your weapon through these, some are brilliantly written and it feels almost like a throw back to Lost Odyssey.
Graphically Oninaki seems to take more from the anime genre rather than trying to channel the spirit of “golden era JRPG” and it works well with the story. It still retains a slight glimmer of the previous TRF works but with a little more detailing.
The locations are varied enough and it also helps you’ll be jumping between the physical and spiritual versions of areas, naturally the spiritual versions are much darker and twisted.
All in all, Oninaki is a great looking title which manages to blend the typical look of Tokyo RPG Factory titles with a more detailed anime aesthetic, the only knock against it would be the lack of enemy design. You’ll notice very quickly that the game uses the same enemies over and over again, there is a penguin enemy which is the first you come across and you’ll still be fighting it post credits!.
Oninaki is an action RPG with emphasis on the action. Throughout your quest you unlock various “Daemons” these are your main way of attack and also expand the lore as mentioned above. Oninaki plays similar to games like the Mana series or even a top down Musou game with the amount of attacking and enemy count you are up against. You level your Daemon up and get more attacks which help you string together mighty combos to act like the bulldozer of death you are.
Being that you are a Watcher you have the ability to jump between the realities and you will do this often to solve puzzles and Battle more enemies to earn orbs which you use to power up your Daemon.
There are Side Quests outside of the main story and there is a hefty post game dungeon, all in all content wise this game is standard for the genre.
I REALLY wanted to love Oninaki, I’m a fan of Lost Sphear and I’ve heard some positive (and also negative) about I Am Setsuna, something about this title just refused to grip me. The game is around 25 hours long and I felt every second, it could be the repetitive combat or the shaky writing but Oninaki just didn’t have that “hook” it really needed.
Oninaki is far from a terrible game, it has an interesting premise and some glimpses of brilliant writing, on a whole though the game is distinctly average which is a damn shame considering the pedigree of Tokyo RPG Factory and the ground work of the previous two titles.