Players travel between the realms of the dead and living in Tokyo RPG Factory project

By Gieson Cacho // The Mercury News

Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Steam
Genre: Action adventure role-playing
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Tokyo RPG Factory
Rating: T, for teen

Tokyo RPG Factory’s latest action role-playing game takes place in a fantasy world, in which reincarnation is a reality. Death is seen as a transitory state as most spirits move on. Oninaki follows a boy named Kagachi, whose parents die when he’s young. His childhood friend, Mayura, and her father, Kushi, help him through the ordeal.

That leads Kagachi to life as a Watcher. In the world of Oninaki, they are the guardians between the living world and the beyond. Their job is to guide lost souls to the next phase of their existence—reincarnation. Using their own weapons and lost souls called Daemons, they battle creatures in the living world, and they can transport themselves to the world of the dead and slay monsters there.

It’s a fascinating world, in which Watchers have to regulate death itself. Because people know that reincarnation exists, what’s to stop them from dying and re-rolling for a better life? The game and the world bring up these questions over the course of the adventure.

As for the gameplay itself, Oninaki is a mix of Diablo and Dark Souls. The Diablo element comes in the dungeon crawl that players will run through. They’ll kill hordes of enemies using the Daemon companions that they discover along the way.

Each Daemon offers a unique weapon, skill and action. For instance, the starter Daemon, Aisha, lets Kagachi wield a sword. Her powers allow him to dash across the screen and use a linear rush attack called the Gale Slash. Those special moves take time to recharge.

From the demo I played, it appears as though gamers will have to switch out their Daemons depending on the enemy. In addition, they’ll also collect Soulstones that can upgrade these special Lost Souls. If they want to delve into the Daemons’ backstory, they can restore the spirits’ memories and find out what makes them tick.

Lastly, players have the Manifest ability. That’s tied to a meter called Affinity, which rises during battle but falls when skills are used. When Manifest is used, it temporarily boosts stats, cancels a current action and prevents stagger damage. This power is vital when facing tough bosses.

Even if players die, Oninaki isn’t too punishing. They start them over from convenient save points, and they can continue the adventure without much penalty. I fought the boss, the Iron Hammer, a few times before I figured out its weak point. Players have to attack from behind. The challenge showed off the potential of the action RPG combat system. It should be interesting to see how Tokyo RPG Factory adapts the gameplay for other bosses and situations. It appears to do a lot with fairly simple mechanics.