Akiba’s Trip is one of those games that seem like it was conceived to capitalise on that time when gamers went crazy for everything zombie related. Remember when Call of Duty and Red Dead Redemption had zombies? Didn’t matter what it was so long as it sold. Akiba’s Trip then seems like the perfect cross over for fans of Japanese games, with its zombie premise amidst Tokyo’s geeky Electric Town setting of Akihabara (Akiba for short). It doesn’t hurt that the gimmick of the game was to strip people (or rather zombies) of their clothes and expose them sunlight to vaporise them. What geek doesn’t really enjoy doing that?
Unfortunately though this game is rather awkward in its combat mechanics, and that’s probably where it hurts this game the most. If the game actually had a good combat system, then maybe the rest of the game’s rather average story, characters, graphics, RPG systems would have been somewhat tolerable. But the combat is no fun to play, and makes a 7 hour game a complete chore. And just to show how much of a chore it was, it took me over a year to play.
The basic premise is that you’re a geek who’s been captured and injected with some rather awful stuff to turn you into a synthister (a zombie). So long as you don’t lose all your clothes, you’re safe. When you get hit, you lose health to that area. When that area goes to zero health, you become vulnerable to be stripped, and being stripped of all your clothes kills you. You need to defeat all the other synthister’s out there in Akihabara and find the bad guy who did this to you.
The game floats between story sections with a ragtag group of friends who help you with information about Akiba itself and the synthister’s. This is mostly done from the confines of the ‘safehouse’. Then after a chunk of story its off to explore Akiba and find and beat up synthister’s to move the plot along. There is some exploration at the start of the game and Akiba is recreated in a rather faithful manner. I went to Japan recently and shop locations and type of shops are perfectly replicated. That said, after a while, due to the way the game has been programmed with only very small areas available before loading screens crop up, it is just so much faster to select where to go on the map itself and fast travel to that location rather than walk manually. It is like an old Resident Evil or Silent Hill game where there are loading screens every time you open a door, but in this case, a loading screen when you turn the corner. That is probably a huge oversight to the enjoyment to the game.
The combat as been said is not good and after a while lacks a lot of depth to keep it fun. There are three attack buttons, high attacks, mid attacks, low attacks plus a jump button and a block button. You need to do damage to a certain location until it glows red before you can yank off their clothes/accessories. So for example, you need to do a bunch of low attacks to make the bottom half of the enemy glow before you’re capable of pulling off its pants and you need to do this for all three areas of the enemy before it vaporises. The jump button is more or less useless at the ‘casual’ difficulty level, and the block button is too risky to use much, as the enemy can easily attempt to rip your clothes off even when blocking. It is much preferred to hit the enemy first rather than to play any sort of defence, so the game plays out more like a button masher than a game with any tactics. The other major problem is that many of the fights toward the latter part of the game just go on for far too long. The game may throw 10 enemies at you, many which need to be stripped 3 times each, one for each body part, so the game plays out too repetitively. At any time, you can run to the side and ‘heal’ yourself (you can only lose your clothes if your health for that part (legs, body, head) is zero) so the game becomes quite tedious in beating up the enemy, running off to the side to heal and repeating that sequence.
The slight redeeming grace this game has is that recreation of Akiba is quite authentic, you’ll see computer shops and large department stores in the same areas. I was impressed one time when walking through the back lanes of the game, shops in the game had computer parts in bargain bins, also something that happens in real life. There was even an ad for Go Go Curry (the best Japanese curry I might add) during the loading screen.
I also really liked the voice acting in this game. While its nothing on the level of say Uncharted, having all the lines voiced in a Vita game and with great voice acting is always impressive for me. While the story was generally bad, the voice acting at least makes it passable.
But overall, this is an extremely hard game to recommend to anyone but to people with nothing but free time. There’s nothing great about this game, and the combat while not exactly broken, is not fun to play, and that is generally 80% of the game. If you’re looking for a beat them up, try the Yakuza series, particularly Yakuza 4. It’s set in Japan, it has a superior combat system and the story is far more engaging.
Score: 4 out of 10