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Otogi Review

Johnny_Liu By:
Johnny_Liu
09/01/03
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE  
PLAYERS 1- 1 
PUBLISHER Sega 
DEVELOPER  
RELEASE DATE  

Hit or myth.

"Otogi" might sound like a Japanese breakfast cereal, but it's actually the shortened form of Otogizoshi, which means a short prose fiction from the Japanese Edo period.

But if you were anything like Raikoh, a warrior caught between life and death, breakfast just has to include a daily dose of ancient Edo demons, fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. After all, the day simply hasn't truly begun unless you've killed something.

Raikoh's life is held in limbo by Princess, a mysterious, shrouded woman who assigns Raikoh quests to atone for his evil past life. From level to level, Raikoh tears it up, slicing and dicing in the third-person in Otogi: Myth of Demons.

Otogi is essentially a glorified hack n' slash affair. You battle your way across 29 levels just obliterating everything. Besides the gathering of minor enemies, there's often a seriously wicked beast terrorizing the lands with demon-stink breath or demon-dancing or something. Simply make your way to that pivotal denizen of the darkside, off the sucker, and it's on to the next level.

Raikoh definitely travels in style thanks to copious amounts of dashing and jumping. You'll soar up into the air and gently float down, just wailing on all the bad guys dumb enough to be near you. A magic meter is constantly depleting and dashing uses up more, but it's a great way to slice your way through enemies. You've also got projectile attacks in the form of spells, which look cool but again suck up precious magic.

As you progress you gain experience and can afford better weapons and items, lending what seems like some RPG depth here. You'll gain weapons by accomplishing different objectives or purchasing them in between missions.

It's a nice try, but aside from slightly different speeds or whatnot, the weapons all play the same way. Combos remain grounded in the common three weak slashes followed by a heavy one. You can target specific enemies, but in those moments when you are completely surrounded, it winds up better just to keep hacking away. Nonetheless, targeting that one specific boss enemy can still prove useful.

Unfortunately, the bosses are really the only enemies that put up a real fight, as the AI is pretty stupid. This makes for a repetitive game, making you hack your way through mindless enemies until you pass each level.

While there isn't a ton of depth here, it can be quite fulfilling watching the explosions and slaughter. The game really takes off when you start enjoying the fact that just about everything can be destroyed. You'll tear through trees, bust open walls and lay waste to almost everything your blade touches, leading to a kinetically pleasing experience. When you're kicking demon-ass and busting up the environment, you really feel like a force of nature.

The game is very challenging and getting through the levels will take multiple tries, drawing a comparison between another distinctively Japanese game, Shinobi for the PS2.  While the two are set in different time periods, some of the action bits feel similar.

But Otogi more than one-ups Shinobi in its looks. It seems to share style with games like Panzer Dragoon Orta and Gunvalkyrie, but the smoky atmosphere and the distinctly Japanese look of cherry blossom petals and temples of gold give it a more refined feel. Great lighting, sharp colors and good animation seal the deal. At times it is enough to make you forget about the repetitive slashing and the difficulty.

I've noticed that other games developed by From Software tend to have some anti-aliasing issues with jaggy edges, and you'll occasionally find that here alongside a dropped frame or two. Nonetheless, Otogi is a rich, beautiful game.

The unmistakable cultural flavor continues in the music, richly imbued with chanting, drumming, the strums of a zither. Voices come in Japanese and English, both of which are good. Even the English narration carries that heavy-handed importance prevalent in Japanese operas.

Otogi's somewhat repetitive action is not entirely compelling, but this one is really all about style and looking cool. It might not suck you in, but it should satiate your hunger for both fast-paced action and eye candy. And that's not a bad breakfast at all.


B Revolution report card
  • Great atmosphere and style
  • Challenging
  • Good hack and slash action
  • That gets redundant
  • Not much depth
  • Style over substance
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