Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed (PS3) Review
What happens when you mix vampires with otaku culture? The answer is Acquire’s Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed for PS3 and PS Vita.
Akiba’s Trip’s story is based around stopping vampire like creatures called Synthisters from draining the life energy from all those who visit the Tokyo district of Akihabara (Akiba), a place famous for its electronic goods and otaku culture. The only people who are aware the Synthisters’ plans are the “Akiba Freedom Fighters”. The group gets sucked into the situation after the main character was kidnapped by “The Organization”, the name of the Synthisters’ organization, but shortly after you are turned into Synthister you are save by a female Synthister hunter called Shizuku Tokikaze, who upon freeing you performs a blood pact to save your life and increase your power. After being rescued you and Shizuku go to your friends, the Freedom Fighters and draw up plans to stop the Synthisters from capturing anyone else.
Akiba’s Trip’s story is decent, but at times it tries too hard. The main plot is basically that Synthisters want power and that’s all we know for the majority of the game , although we do know that while Synthisters are pretty much vampires they don’t display any vampire traits apart from some enhanced strength and weakness to sunlight. The game is relatively short with my longest completion time clocking in at just over seven hours and my shortest clocking in at just less than three hours. This short length is a bit a troubling as the game throws information at a lightning pac and conflict resolutions feel like they have being resolved to quickly, this problem is most apparent in the middle part of the story where the game moves slightly away from the Synthister problem to have you help a CEO of a pharmaceutical company stop her own company from exploiting Synthisters. The ending is also a bit rushed, with the final boss fight coming nearly straight after you finish the issue with the pharmaceutical company.
In NIS America’s EU press release regarding the game they stated a key feature of the game is “Satirical Story with Divergent Paths and Multiple Endings” and while this is true it feels like it wasn’t required. While you have multiple dialog options the changes to the story are only apparent if you play through the game multiple times, and even than the changes aren’t anything major. The changes consist of new fights, conversations and various extended endings. If you are the type of person who wishes to play through the game multiple times to find all the endings the new game+ mode helps you by having pictures of characters beside dialog choices, for example if you want to follow Shizuku you just look for the conversation options that have her picture beside them, this addition is an incredibly helpful and I kind of wished more games that have relationship elements would do this.
The main characters in Akiba’s Trip are an interesting mix of anime/ video game tropes with some characters being over the top and others feeling almost normal. It is nice to see some quirky character, but it is nice to see those character balanced against more grounded characters. For example the character Tohko Sagisaka, the main character’s childhood friend, is probably the most grounded character and most relatable character for those who don’t fully understand the otaku culture, because unlike everyone else in the group she isn’t an otaku, but she does enjoy games and anime, and when the Synthisters attack she is more than ready to defend the town. On the opposite end of the spectrum there is Nana, the main character’s younger sister, who is probably the best example of the over the top depiction of otaku in the game. She loves games and anime to the point where she talks like she is a character in one, she is also a shut in who hates going outside, and she loves referring to her brother as brotaku, brofessor etc. Of course that is only two examples, the rest of the characters have their own quirks such as Shizuku’s calm and cold expression and voice, and Shion, a CEO of a large Pharmaceutical company, who loves to run around and get involved with the Freedom Fighters.
One of the most important things for the developers to get right about Akiba’s Trip was the area of Akihabara itself. My overall idea of how it favours to the real Akihabara is limited as I have never visited the area before, but doing some research it seems like a pretty accurate depiction of Akiba. What makes it accurate to the real location is fact the game uses real-life shops such as K-Books and the fact that advertisements that appear during the loading screen are based off real products and stores (You can turn off the in-game adverts via the game’s option menu). Moving away from the aesthetic of the town, the game likes to throw up a lot of loading screens with loading screens popping up even when you cross a street. The reason for the heavy use of loading screens is made apparent rather quickly as NPCs pop in and out of existence in an inorganic manner.
In this modern day world fast and easy communication is important, and Akiba’s Trip knows this. In the game all the information you need is gained through your smartphone, well apart from the game’s main story, where to advance it you have to go to your group’s HQ. With your smartphone you can undertake side-missions, find out what people are talking about via the “pitter” app, and you can also use the smartphone’s camera to locate hidden Synthisters. The idea of incorporating a smartphone and using it as a kind of hub is great as it doesn’t means you can get information quickly.
I think that’s enough talk the game’s story and world, I think it is time talk about Akiba’s Trip unique brawler combat. What is unique about the combat? Well instead of beating your enemies into submission you strip them down to their underwear, which might sound weird, but your enemies are pretty much vampires, so sunlight will affect them. The combat controls are all based around hitting the upper, middle and lower half of the body until the article of clothing falls off, with the triangle button having you aim for the head, circle the middle and the x for the lower half. Honestly the idea is pretty fun, especially when you consider there multiple ways to remove the enemy’s clothes. There are two key ways to remove clothes, 1) weakening their clothes durability until they turn red and press and hold one of the three buttons to get a brief removal cutscene and 2) you can also chain rip off clothes from multiple enemies via a simple QTE. The second of the two is the most affective as you gain more experience points. While you can do all these cool strip attacks to your enemies they can do them back as they easily destroy your clothes durability, especially when they have you surrounded and start using unblockable heavy attacks.
In combat you are not alone, as you can partner up with Shizuku or one of several other characters. Having a partner fight alongside you is a helpful addition as they help make the large number of enemies more manageable, this is especially helpful when you need to run away and perform a quick heal to restore your durability. While a useful distraction they aren’t the best fighters and on numerous occasions I had to save my partner from being stripped, but the game never pushes you to keep your partner alive as it does not penalise you with a game over or anything else. Although while there is no penalty having your partner alive can be helpful as you can team up to perform a partner attack that can not only completely strip an enemy, but stun everyone around the enemy you just stripped.
While combat is fun there are issues with it. For me there are two primary issues: targeting enemies and the camera. These are both essential elements and should help you in combat, but instead they hindered what could have being a good experience. My problem with targeting is that it is almost impossible to target individual enemies as your character auto targets the enemy in front of you, and with so many enemies attacking you and the need to be always moving you are left losing your main target, which is extremely frustrating especially when you are fighting a boss. What makes the issue worse for me is that having the ability to say use the L2 and R2 buttons as a way of cycling target view would have fixed the issue. The issue with the camera isn’t as big as a problem, but it can still cause some frustration. The cause of the frustration is when you are fighting is narrow streets with large buildings around you, these buildings have a tendency to obstruct your view and while you can turn the camera, the amount of time it would take to get it at the right angle would likely see your die.
Of course having a large collection of equipment will only take you so far as it isn’t the clothes you wear that’s important, but the stats attached to them. Each piece of clothing has defence rating that tells you how much damage they can take and weapons have an attack rating that tells you how much damage you can do. Although while stats are important it is a good idea to keep your old equipment as your sister Nana can fuse weapons and clothes together to increase the clothes defence rating and weapons attack rating.
Before I move onto the last part of this review, I want to mention the sexual nature of the combat. Simply put the nudity is handled in a somewhat tasteful matter, ok when men and female enemies are stripped to their underwear they do stand around partially exposed, but with multiple enemies around you don’t have a lot of time to notice. Honestly the only time I saw it get a bit tasteless is when if you strip four or more enemies in one strip QTE all clothes including underwear is removed although their bodies are protected by a lens flare.
For those concerned about the game’s audio there is a choice between Japanese or English. While I cannot comment on the Japanese audio, the English audio for me was decent with their speech lining up well with their attitude, but while they did some scenes felt either over or underplayed making it was difficult to tell how their felt about certain situations.
Graphically Akiba’s Trip feels rather flat with colours looking like they had being washed out and textures, especially on a lot of the adverts looking smudged. Even with some graphical sacrifice the game sometimes struggles to run at a stable frame rate as some large open fights causing some noticeable frame rate dips. With the graphics I also encountered a minor graphical error during partner attack scene, during the scene all players disappeared and I was left to look at a green screen with a flash of light coming from the left of the screen.
Akiba’s Trip is a game aimed solely at the otaku community as it feels more like a virtual tour of Akihabara than a video game. While both the story and characters have some charm to them, the unique strip-based combat is clunky and frustrating.
+ Offers an interesting look at otaku culture
+ Characters all have their own interesting quirks
+/- The story is decent, but has pacing issues
– If you aren’t an otaku you won’t have a lot of fun
– Clunky and frustrating combat
|Acquire||NIS America||Action RPG||16+||PS3 and PSVita||October 10th|
Author: Aaron Meehan
Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.