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Otogi: Myth of Demons (Xbox) artwork

Otogi: Myth of Demons (Xbox) review

"Otogi is really in a league of it’s own on Xbox. The closest game to it is probably Panzer Dragoon Orta, not because the action is similar but because both games deliver such a unique audio/visual impact backed with challenging, addicting gameplay."

It‘s not every day that a great Japanese-developed game lands exclusively on Xbox. But thanks to a few companies like Tecmo and Sega, the occasional eastern gem does manage to find it’s way to us. One such game is FROM Software’s truly magical 3D smash-em-up, Otogi.

You play as Raikoh, an undead warrior whose soul has been retrieved from purgatory by an ominous female deity known only as “Princess”. Unfortunately she didn’t just resurrect you out of the goodness of her heart, there’s a catch. You’re gonna have to help her out with a few things if you want to go on living.

As the right hand man of a mysterious goddess you’ll journey through the lands of the living and the dead, “purifying“ scores of demons along the way. The game plays out in a Devil May Cry-ish fashion - you’re assigned a simple mission (Purify the Demons! Collect the Orbs!) and you’re off.

Otogi uses a relatively basic combat system - cutting down most demons is a simple matter of locking on with the left trigger, then unleashing one of a few easy-to-execute combos. Raikoh has some offensive magic spells at his disposal, and can also unleash a couple different flipping attacks. While you’ll spend pretty much the entire game using the same basic moves, killing demon after demon never ceases to satisfy.

I’d be lying if I were to tell you that this game isn’t repetitive - it is - but it manages to keep going strong through over twenty-five levels. One of the things that keeps Otogi rolling happily along is the awesome sense of destruction it brings. Every boulder, pagoda, tree, mirror, box, shrine, pillar, and lamp can be smashed. Being imbued with the power of a god, Raikoh’s a lot tougher than your average samurai. Powerful weapon strikes will send your enemies flying, smashing any objects they come into contact with. Sending a demon smashing into a wall and watching it crumble down around him with a glorious crushing noise just doesn‘t get old. You can even take down entire houses with a swing of your swords if you’re feeling a bit reckless. Breaking stuff isn’t only fun though, it’s actually helpful. Hidden in various destructible objects in the levels are ancient souls which will occasionally reward you with bonus items when collected.

Raikoh loves to kick ass with all manner of swords, clubs, and staves. And as I mentioned, he’s pretty damn powerful - yet he’s far from invincible. All that‘s really keeping him alive is the Princess‘ magic, which is kept track of by an onscreen gauge. As you play the gauge is constantly draining, although at a slow pace. Casting spells will make it drop down a bit faster. When the gauge empties, you start dying, so you'll always have to be watching it. Don’t worry though, magic can be replenished by killing enemies.

Simple controls make it easy to just pick up this game and be flipping around and slashing fools down with ease in a matter of minutes. The camera also works very well for the most part, though you’re bound to occasionally be frustrated by the way the lock-on works. You’re only allowed to lock onto one enemy at a time, but what’s bothersome is that you can’t scroll through enemies with your lock-on. You just hit the button and it picks an enemy, (hopefully) the nearest one. Locking on tends to be more problematic when you or your opponent is up in the air - if the guy gets above you and starts moving around you in circles it can force the camera into some strange lurching maneuvers, at which point you’ll just be forced to disengage the lock-on and get a better approach, or just wade in there manually (which really isn’t difficult). These problems were mostly minor annoyances, nothing that caused me to die or throw my controller at the TV.

Thankfully there’s a bit more to Otogi than pure, straight-forward action. Killing monsters will earn you gold which can be used to purchase new weapons, spells, and accessories between levels. The selection of weapons is rather large, and each item has unique statistics and properties. How you decide to equip yourself can be rather important - any given level can either be a breeze or a complete pain in the yak depending on what spells and items Raikoh is using. These “RPG” elements don’t feel overbearing or out of place at all - they bring a perfect amount of depth to the game.

Levels are unique, well designed, and overloaded with graphical wow-factor. In fact, every part of Otogi looks incredible. This is not only one of the best looking games on Xbox, but one of the most polished overall visual presentation ever seen in a game, period. It’s as if FROM just decided to go all out and put together every cool looking Xbox graphics effect they could into a single game. While some games this graphically pumped might feel overdone, the insane amount of effects happening here manages to feel just right for Otogi’s world. Audio is nearly as good as the video. Haunting traditional Japanese tunes jive perfectly with the games look, creating a truly stunning surreal experience.

With over 25 levels, you’ll be able to get a good 20 hours out of Otogi. There’s even some replay value to the game - once you’ve beaten it you may want to play through again to find every soul and unlock every available spell and weapon.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Otogi is simply the overall FEEL of the game. Every single thing contained herein - enemies, level designs, graphics, music, etc., just jive perfect to create an overwhelmingly surreal supernatural-feeling experience.

Otogi is really in a league of it’s own on Xbox. The closest game to it is probably Panzer Dragoon Orta, not because the action is similar but because both games deliver such a unique audio/visual impact backed with challenging, addicting gameplay. The only problem here is that the Lock-On mechanism could’ve used a bit more work, but most gamers will probably be able to overlook that as I did. Otogi is the best Xbox game most of you have never heard of, and at a semi-bargain price of 39.99, why not go pick it up right now?

goatx3's avatar
Staff review by (October 06, 2003)

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