Friday! Video games! Let’s talk!
I’ve been in and out a lot this week, what with yesterday’s new piercing trip and today being my girlfriend’s birthday. My mom and I are taking her out to lunch and afterward, we’re all going to a baseball game. I’ve also been taking a break from everything by catching up on TV shows, going through most of The Flash’s 2nd season and all of Master of None’s on Netflix.
I’ve put roughly six hours into Akiba’s Beat, which is a spiritual successor RPG to 2013’s Akiba’s Trip. Unlike Trip’s pseudo open-world beat-em-up in which you expose vampires to the sun by tearing their clothing off, Beat is more akin to a Tales of… game with action-focused combat and a light-hearted story. Aesthetically, it’s similar to Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE with its semi-cel-shaded visuals and multi-colored crowd silhouettes.
Beat’s story centers around Asahi, a college dropout and NEET (a real acronym for “not in employment, education, or training,” used to describe a lazy young adult lacking aspiration) living in Akihabara. The dreams and desires of the electric city’s citizens have begun manifesting themselves as portals around town, which, of course, lead to typical dungeons called “delusionscapes.” With Akiba’s Beat being a JRPG, Asahi discovers his hidden ability to see and fight the delusions that otherwise go unnoticed by the common passerby, and teams up with others possessing the same power.
These menacing delusions aren’t the only problem, however, as the characters become stuck in a repeating Sunday (though the game doesn’t add any potentially annoying time management mechanics). The otaku Groundhog Day concept is interesting and the game itself is translated and voiced well, but the combat is incredibly dull.
Similar to the Tales of… games, Akiba’s Beat segues encounters from free-roam mode to a gated-in, action-focused combat arena. Depending on Asahi’s AP stat (raised through weapons and gear) he can act a set amount of times, typically by mashing square for basic attacks and executing special abilities by pressing X in combination with the left and right analog sticks. It’s very stiff and unsatisfying (giggity?) and could definitely have benefited from a longer development cycle or a larger budget.
What prevents the combat from feeling generic is the game’s focus on music. Asahi and company can collect CDs which add new songs to the game. One song can be selected as your battle music, which provides its own set of combat benefits and damage boosts once a certain meter is filled by attacking enemies. It’s interesting, but since it’s mostly a passive enhancement, it hasn’t really added anything to the experience.
I received the game to review, but I’m not sure I’ll get around to finishing it. I hear it’s nearly 80 hours long and extremely mediocre, so if it fails to evolve over the course of the next ten or so hours, I’ll probably cut my losses and review it up to that point. It’s not being received very well here in North America or in its native Japan. I’m always glad to see publishers take a chance translating and localizing these types of games, but in a year over-crowded with quality releases, there’s just really no room for an 80-hour experience that stands far below everything else.
Outside of Akiba’s Beat, I just installed my rental of Injustice 2 on PS4. I loved the story mode in the original game, being a DC fan, and I’ve really enjoyed NetherRealm’s plethora of single-player content in their fighters. I’ll probably just play through the story mode and send it back, but the addition of an RPG-style level-up/gear system is definitely intriguing. We’ll see how long I stick around afterward.
I watched Giant Bomb play through The Flash’s chapter and the animations still have that oddly stiff Mortal Kombat feel. Facial animations and character models look downright incredible, though.
I avoided buying the game due to WB’s notoriously shitty paid-DLC model, having already announced new fighters before the game even released. I’ll probably do what I did with Mortal Kombat X and wait for everything to be bundled together cheaply before investing. I want to support NetherRealm and their dedication to providing content for every walk of player, but WB’s money-hungry ways are a bit hard to swallow.
What about you, folks? What are you getting into this weekend?