Otogi: Myth of Demons (Xbox) review
"For a thousand years, the Imperial Court had ruled. But the Seal was broken, and its days of glory drew rapidly to a close. Clouds gathered overhead, and the land was engulfed in a perpetual darkness. The light of neither star nor moon could pierce the night, and a giant tempest rose from the eerie blackness to level all that stood before it. When the winds had passed, all that remained was a Court in ruins, and a city devoid of all life. "
For a thousand years, the Imperial Court had ruled. But the Seal was broken, and its days of glory drew rapidly to a close. Clouds gathered overhead, and the land was engulfed in a perpetual darkness. The light of neither star nor moon could pierce the night, and a giant tempest rose from the eerie blackness to level all that stood before it. When the winds had passed, all that remained was a Court in ruins, and a city devoid of all life.
And with that, Otogi begins...
I was curious and did a little research. The creators of Otogi, the good people at From Software, have made no other game that I've played. As a matter of fact, the only reason I even bothered with Otogi because I saw the nice Sega logo on the box, and associated that with greatness. Not the logo for From Software, which I must say is very crappy and looks much like Word Art in Microsoft Word. It's very interesting though. The creators come from relative obscurity, with their only really known games being Armored Core and King's Field, to create an obscure game, and for the Xbox no less. Fascinating. What am I rambling on about? I could write a whole review of From Software at this point, but that is not the review I to do. I'm reviewing Otogi. From Software has practically no involvement in this, except that they made the game. And what they made was a really good game, so I guess they had a lot of involvement in it.
So basically, Otogi: Myth of Demons is the story of Raikoh and the Princess. Apparently, some demons broke out of a very generic Great Seal, and decided to go about destroying all of mankind. Fancy that. However, this shadow-dwelling Princess survives, and in all her great efforts, brings Otogi, a less-than-noble warrior back to existence to destroy the demon inhabitants of his past world. Of course, if these demons are powerful enough to have destroyed all his people before, then he can't very well go in there alone, and thus she bestows unto him great powers, such as regenerative health and insanely powerful combat skills such as being able to double jump and cast spells.
If one were to call Otogi an action game, they would be lying. And if that same person turned around and said that it was an RPG, they would also be lying. You'd have to tell the liar that it's in actuality an Action-RPG. And then you'd never talk to him again because he lies all the time.
Yes, it's an Action-RPG. But fear not! The game is more Action than RPG. Far more. As Raikoh, you're given missions by the Princess in order to purge the world of all the demons. So, she begins by transporting you (think Star Trek's ''beaming'') to a fairly sizeable area, and while you're there, you are to partake in demon slaying. The combat is essentially a combination of that of the Devil May Cry and Dynasty Warriors games, except with a few individual quirks that make it unique. You are armed with a blade, and as Raikoh, you must slay with that. And boy is slaying very fun. Like in Devil May Cry, the combat is very simplified, but never dull or boring. There are two-buttons, one for a slow, strong attack, and the other for a fast, weaker attack. You can attack on foot or in the air, but it's in the air when combat is most fun. As you hit a creature while leaping about, your descent is slowed, and you can practically stay in the air forever, just as long as you have something to hit.
Of course, you can move Raikoh around while you do this. Contorting him in all sorts of directions is a lot of fun as you watch not only the fighting animation but also the animation of headdress he's wearing. Unfortunately, the camera hampers this. Often times, it will turn to an impossible angle and some unseen monster will attack you from behind. By the time you turn around and the camera around, you'll have taken another hit in some cases. There is a lock-on system that helps with this, but sadly it does not lock to any enemy that you can't see, which in the end really doesn't help.
Fortunately, the combat is loads (and loads) of fun. I think a while back I mentioned that there are some similarities of Dynasty Warriors, and I tell no lies, much unlike our fearless (and feckless) President. The mechanics from Dynasty Warriors come into play from the large amount of enemies that you battle at once and the rewarding combination attack system. You see, as you do battle with upwards to a dozen enemies at a time, the number of hits you get is tallied, and at the end of the current mission, it's tallied up and goes into your experience points. And as you become more experienced, you have access to new weapons, spells, and other items that benefit you.
But Otogi plays out much differently than either game. Where as in Devil May Cry you could rush through, and Dynasty Warriors required patience, Otogi requires patience and speed. Because you're not really alive, you have to use Magic Power to stay alive, in addition to your regular old health. But, as you wander about, your Magic Power slowly dwindles. The only way to restore it is through constant combat. So, you must be quick about combat, but if you're too quick, you'll take a lot of damage, and you'll die. The game requires that you strategize and weigh all your options as you quickly move through the level. A wrong decision can mean having to start the level over again. A right one can mean massive rewards.
While one may say that Otogi's true beauty is on the inside, I'd rather you not believe them. Otogi is a graphical masterpiece. The animations for Raikoh are so incredibly well done that it's sick. His sword moves are well polished and done uniquely for all his weapons. The aforementioned animation of the headgear is equally fantastic. The true showing of the graphics of Otogi comes from the environment. Environmental destruction is nothing new. We all have seen it's pointlessness in Red Faction, and seen its awe-inspiring nature in MechAssault. Otogi takes it to the proverbial and cliché ''next level.'' If you hit your enemies with a hard attack and send them flying into the ground, a crater is left behind. The same occurs when enemies are slammed into walls. And should you destroy enough pillars holding up a walkway or ledge, it will come crashing down on top of you. Nicely, the debris stay in the game world, not fading away like they do in most games. The areas are fairly large too, and when considering how much the game demands the environment do, they seem even bigger. And did I mention that the texturing is fantastic, even without bump mapping? Yes, Otogi is a brilliant looking title, only hampered by occasional minor slowdown (nothing too extreme) and an awkward camera.
The sound is sadly the weakest point in the game. I must say that I absolutely love the traditional orchestral Japanese music found in the title, but the voice acting was damned irritating. It’s passable, but sometimes it just gets on your nerves. An example: in about the 4th level of the games almost 30, you go up against the first boss. Throughout the level, he continually repeats, “None shall pass.” And by continually, I mean at least 40 times by the time I got to the end to finally kill him. The Princess has a pretty decent voice over, but she says everything so slowly that you want to skip it, but if you do you’ll miss the storyline so you have to stick with it. The sound effects are all right, but nothing impressive.
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed that which was Otogi. It’s just plain fun, one of those types of games that you can pick up and play for a little while and just enjoy. It’s not too overly difficult but it does provide a rewarding challenge. Already in development is a sequel to the title, but whether or not we’ll ever see it in America is something I haven’t been able to find out yet.
Community review by asherdeus (December 05, 2003)
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