Capsule Review: Oninaki

An action RPG with strong premise and solid combat whose story never really gels.

An action RPG set in a world where spirits with unfinished business linger after death and eventually become dangerous and destructive, so it’s more important that people die without regrets than that they live long and fruitful lives.

At first, the story does some interesting worldbuilding exploring the cultural ramifications of this premise. The dominant religion is essentially a death cult and as an agent of it you are tasked with performing actions that are prudent and merciful in context but horrifying outside of it. Unfortunately, the directions the plot goes mean that the most interesting characters keep dying off, damaging the story’s through-line and making it harder to stay engaged. Also, while it’s hard to know whether to blame the writing, the translation, or both, the story becomes much more confusing in its second half. By the end I didn’t understand what was happening or care about any remaining characters.

But the combat is solid and is what kept me playing even after the story and characters stopped having any draw for me. It’s a bit slow and tactical for an action game - attacks on both sides tend to be high commitment (though some abilities and animation cancels can speed things up) so it’s often more important to read situations and use the right abilities at the right times than to have lightning-quick reflexes or button-mashing ability. There are also a lot of fighting styles and build options to experiment with, though I personally found that the sword-fighting style you start with was consistently more effective than others and eventually stopped trying anything else.

All in all, I found Oninaki started strong but ran out of interesting things to say. The first couple of missions made a powerful impression and I still find myself thinking about them - but I barely remember anything that happened afterward.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game. I did not do much of the optional or side content and I did not go back for alternate endings.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.