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    Oninaki is an upcoming RPG from the studio responsible for Lost Sphear and I Am Setsuna. The official release date is August 22, but the demo is playable now. From what we’ve seen so far, Oninaki shows a lot of promise. The game deals with death and reincarnation with an overall serious tone. It is is very much a fantasy tale in this way, borrowing from the idea that our souls can depart this world and return to it again in another lifetime.

    We tested two other demos this week, one of which also portrays death as a major theme. Enjoy this week’s selection of demos, and check out the links if you wish to try them too.

    Oninaki

    Oninaki

    If you’re a fan of JRPGs, then Oninaki is worth your time. This upcoming release from Tokyo RPG Factory has a lot of heart and soul, and it’s clear that the creators wanted to tell an anime story that’s outside the norm. Oninaki takes place in a world where lost souls who refuse to accept their death become bound to the living world. If the souls can somehow find their way to the afterlife, they can enter the cycle of reincarnation and perhaps also enter life again.

    The combat is basic to start off with. Souls who have roamed the world long enough will become powerful Daemons, and if their soul resonates with yours, they will join you and guard you in battle. The Daemons you find present different weapons and abilities for your character to use. As for the battles themselves, since this is an action RPG, the combat is in real-time and from an overhead perspective. There is no blocking to speak of, but you will need to properly time your hits and learn when to dodge attacks.

    The two characters, Kaguchi and Mayura, play off of each other quite well. While one is crass and a bit jaded, the other is warmhearted and caring. It’s a joy to see these two navigate the world together, and it’s entertaining to see how their personalities sometimes clash.

    Recommendations: For a JRPG with themes of loss and death, give Oninaki a chance. While not a big-budget game, the fact that Square Enix is publishing this title is nothing to balk at.

    Waking

    Waking

    Death and video games are inextricably linked. But Waking has the player face death in a different way. Enter a game where you, the main character, are lying on your deathbed. This third-person, pseudo-walking sim has you exploring your own consciousness. The environment is a colorful, nexus-like world where portals bring you to different areas of your psyche. As you progress, your earthly desires will slowly fade away.

    While the concept is something unique, the execution is sometimes heavy-handed. An omniscient narrator speaks to you at the end of each section. This all-knowing voice, who calls you by the name that you provided  at the start of the game, asks you such questions as, “Alex, do you feel the beating of your heart slowly fading?” The answer is, of course, no. But I did have some fun with the interesting combat.

    Anyone who is familiar with the Gravity Rush series will find some similarities in the combat system for Waking. The player has the ability to make items levitate and launch them towards the enemy.

    Recommendation: For a game with minimal action and heavy themes, give Waking a shot.

    Project Warlock

    Project Warlock

    Project Warlock gives a proper nod to classic id Software games, something that always wins points in my book.

    As I’m strafing my way through this demo, I’m reminded of how much fun I once had – many years ago – running through demon-infested corridors in Doom 95. The pixels that represent ammo on the ground aren’t true 3D. They’re 2D sprites that rotate no matter what direction you look at them from. This tiny little detail brought back memories of playing shooters from another era,  a time when we played first-person shooters with no internet connection.

    Run, shoot, strafe, repeat. Project Warlock has the speed and insanity of classic first-person shooters. It also has the high-adrenaline, guitar-fueled soundtrack that I want to hear when slaying demons. Overall, I think the aesthetic of Project Warlock is what sets it apart. There are numerous games that fit the classic FPS mold, and there are several retro-reimaginings of this genre such as Amid Evil and Ion Fury. But Project Warlock’s colorful design and highly detailed sprites (as compared to the games it is inspired from) truly made me feel like I was playing the next incarnation of classic Doom or even Heretic. The fact that Project Warlock combines spellweaving with gunning down evil creatures makes it feel like a fusion of both of those games.

    Recommendation: For old-school FPS fans. Plain and simple.

    The Combat In Oninaki Is All Overhead

    Final Thoughts

    One of the ways I judge how much I like an RPG is how much I’m driven to speak to NPCs. This is exactly what happened to me while playing Oninaki. I found myself wanting to become further immersed in the game-world. So I took my time to talk to the various characters. A boy who’s looking for his brother, a hard-working shop-keep, or a man who talks about his deceased father. All of these things serve to enrich Oninaki’s world.

    NPCs serve the function of reminding you where you are and what you are doing at that point in the game. They also serve as a way to make you feel like you are apart of their world. All-in-all, they have more at stake in their worlds than we (the players) do. They’re not the passive observers that we are. They grieve loved ones, celebrate victories, complain about their jobs, and suffer the consequences of their in-world actions. They remind us that a good RPG has to be about more than stats and abilities. It’s about telling a good tale.

    Last week, we covered the demos for Robo Instructus, Clea, Mago, and Ode to a Moon. If you’re a game developer or publisher and would like to have your demo covered in this series, you can email editor (at) pcinvasion (dot) com.

    Alex Johnson
    Alex has been playing video games since the 90s. He's your resident Roller Coaster Tycoon fan. You can find him on Twitter @alexzolom

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