Oninaki is the third title from Square Enix’s Tokyo RPG Factory studio, preceded by 2016’s I Am Setsuna and 2018’s Lost Sphear. This time around it’s an action RPG rather than a throwback to the turn-based days of Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy V, and other titles that inspired their previous games.
Today, Square Enix has released a playable demo for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam, and you can see our turn in the video below.
The inhabitants of Oninaki’s world believe in the power of reincarnation — particularly that you will pass from one world to the next. However, in order to guide the souls of the departed through the reincarnation process, it is forbidden to grieve their loss. Doing so will cause them to linger and become “Lost,” and potentially transform into malevolent spirits called the “Fallen.”
Kagachi, the game’s protagonist, is called a “Watcher.” His role is to guide souls along the reincarnation process, and can even travel between the world of the living and the dead. With his fellow Watchers, they protect the living world from the Fallen. Kagachi can also bind Lost known as “Daemons” to himself and use their Daemon powers in battle.
What makes this an interesting set-up are the ways in which this world treats, reacts, and reveres death. How do parents cope with losing a child? Do we let our grief turn into something that distorts the memories of our loved ones? The story that unfolds in the demo asks some hard questions and some unexpected outcomes.
Combat in Oninaki is simple, and boils down to the Daemon Kagachi currently has summoned. Outside of a basic attack, his ability load-out, even down to the weapon type, all changes with different types of Daemons. One provides quick strikes with a katana and a dash move to evade attacks, while another uses slower and more precise spear blows along with the ability to jump. Use a certain Daemon enough and you’ll unleash powerful abilities. You can have four equipped on you at a time, and changing them is as simple as holding down the right analog stick (this is the PlayStation 4 version, mind). Each Daemon can be equipped with weapon and skill upgrades, the latter is done through a skill tree.
Like I mentioned before, Kagachi can move between the world of the living and the “Veil” where lost spirits roam. While the Fallen inhabit both realms, the Veil is more chaotic, including dangerous enemies that can easily send you to the Game Over screen. It’s hard to say what challenge this may pose given the limited time with the demo, but you’ll want to be prepared when you switch between realms.
This seems to be a break from Tokyo RPG Studio’s usual fare, perhaps shifting from intentionally-inspired systems to more creative or experimental ones. So far the world the demo presents us with is quite interesting. The early section the demo places us in leaves combat feeling pretty basic, but the additional Battle Mode included may give a better idea of what to expect at later stages. However, given the limited moves each Daemon has, especially maneuverability options, it’s easy to feel like battles struggle to maintain an exciting momentum.
Oninaki will release on August 22nd for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.