Who do that Voodoo that you do so well.
Upon hearing the story for Akuji the Heartless, I thought it was fairly creative. You control the aforementioned Akuji, a voodoo priest, in his quest to avenge his own death at the hands of his murderous brother. Very few games have used Voodoo as the premise for the story, even thought it is such cool subject matter. While the story for Akuji is excellent, the gameplay is only average, causing the overall game to suffer.
The graphics in Akuji are extremely clean. Polygon errors are very minimal, if nonexistent. The characters have a significant number of polygons and are textured masterfully. On top of that, the lighting effects achieved are even better than the previous lighting king, Forsaken. There are all kinds of ambient light emanating from power ups and natural occurrences (such as lightning), brightening up levels and making them look much more interesting. The only major problem is the significant use of fog to cover up polygonal pop-up. But on the whole, the graphics are the best part of the game.
Moving Akuji through this beautiful environment is another story. Although
his motions seem fluid and it feels pretty easy to navigate him around the landscape,
shady camera movements prohibit fully enjoying the game. Much like Mario
64, you can manually rotate the camera around Akuji to achieve the
best angle. The problem lies in the camera angles that the game initially gives you. Sometimes the camera is
completely blocked by scenery. Other times, it does not reveal puzzles or jumps
until it’s too late. These sorts of camera angles will quickly put you off
from playing the game and are Akuji‘s biggest problem. To compete in
the 3D adventure/action genre, control is one of the most pertinent issues,
and one which Akuji fails badly.
While the camera continually frustrates the gamer, the music does a good job
soothing his nerves. Moody jungle music is tempered with ambient sounds of animals
and other creatures, completely immersing the player in the environment of
each level. The sound designers are to be congratulated on a job well done.
The level design is equally good. The different zones, much like in the Crash Bandicoot series, host a variety of different levels with varying architecture. Although the goals of each level are pretty much the same (keep killing baddies until you reach the end), the changing scenery makes sure that it doesn’t become boring.
For a game that looked like it had so much potential (good story, great graphics), Akuji the Heartless falls flat on its face when it comes to delivering a fully enjoyable game. Granted, the action isn’t bad, but the annoying camera makes the game completely unplayable at times. You wouldn’t do bad buying Akuji, but be prepared for some frustration.