Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors
Developer: From Software
Release Date: 10/21/04
The original Otogi was about a man who was raised from the dead who continues his own war against demons in ancient Japan. That about did it for background but the game wasn’t about story, it was about moving fast and destroying most everything in sight. This time around there are 5 more demon slayers along for the ride and the visuals are boosted up… but does that necessarily make a better game?
Demons are once again trying to run amok, take sacred orbs, and destroy cities. Raikoh is awakened and has others to aid him in his quest to beat back the demons and restore peace to the land.
That is the entire story. Nothing new here or exciting here. The story is just a quick tidbit before you get to go on a rampage destroying everything. The story does not even warrant mention in the instruction manual.
The original Otogi boasted beautiful graphical environments, effects, and atmosphere. From decided that they could push a bit more and made Otogi 2 an even more eye pleasing game. The colors used are subdued, but fit the atmosphere that the game is trying to invoke. The almost always grayish landscape shows that something is not quite right with the world of Otogi. The attention to detail on the buildings and superfluous items is lovely.
The pallor cast on the visuals in Otogi 2 is understandable. There is a horde of demons entering the world bent on stealing a sacred orb, defiling a sacred tree or sacred gate, and just up to all sorts of miscreant things. The light flickers as it should in a temple devoid of human life. The clouds are gray overhead just like all those other times games are smashing demons. The water ripples and looks murky, but reflects enough when the stage calls for it.
The player characters are very well done, ranging from long haired Raiko to priestess Seimei. They all have fine details of their outfits and physical looks worked out, with Tsuna’s wolf head looking fearsome and Suetake looking very alien.
A problem arises from all the effects that happen on the screen when you are dishing out heavy punishment. Magic and blurring effects from heavy attacks being to make the action hard to follow. Also on occasion an enemy can get lost in all the visuals even when not attacking, but this does not happen often enough to be a massive detriment.
Mood is the main graphical course in this shindig and From Software served it up quite nicely.
Chilly winds make a sound, most anyone from the northern most states in the Union know what it sounds like and obviously people in Japan know what it sounds like as well. The sound of wood breaking, rock shattering, and demon flesh being torn come in loud and clear with the music going along as an unobtrusive partner to the rampaging action.
Do not be fooled in thinking Otogi 2 is a quiet game. The game is loud and rumbles, my subwoofer can attest to shaking and booming as I tried to play on a lower volume setting. This deep noise is a very good means of helping the aural atmosphere. The clashing of sword against sword, the grunts and curses being hurled by our heroes along with the unpretentious soundtrack help keep the mood of the game in tact.
There have not been many changes in the control scheme from Otogi: Myth of Demons to Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors. You can lock on, run combinations, and dash to keep yourself in the air with ease. However should you get into a combination it is easy to hit your enemy out of harms way and slash or magic your way to the opposite end of the map. The action can become rather hectic and though the assault drift is a tad problematic, it is not a grievous enough crime to hinder the overall control scheme.
Each of the 6 playable characters in Otogi use the same control set up, only their abilities when pressing the buttons change. This makes switching between characters easy and allows for a lower learning curve for the difference from one character to the other.
The major gripe with the controls come from the camera control with the right thumbstick. It is slow and choppy, causing slight pauses in an action game that should be about continuous destruction and not adjust a view.
A new twist in Otogi 2 is the ability to use more than just Raikoh. Each character has a strength and weakness that will be useful on some missions. One character can jump over and over again, reaching heights that none of the others can while another can only jump a single time, making certain levels nigh impossible. There is also the super magical girl and the super fast girl along with the berserker and of course, Mr. Everything Raikoh.
The system works and even though for each set of missions you have to choose from prevent you from using a character more than once for that particular set of missions, the player learns to get by. The problem comes when a character is not used as often as the others and becomes quite a bit weaker in character statistics.
The RPG element of improving character stats (like strength, resistance, vitality) does make you feel like all that destruction is doing more than unlocking bonus costume number 3 but it also can mean that if you fail a mission and just cannot seem to advanced past it with a certain character that character may end up becoming your B roster fodder. Roster fodder is fine when you have all the characters readily selectable, but when you enter boss stages that only allow a few characters and you only have a level 5 and level 2 to choose from you may be up a rough stretch of gaming. Sure you can increase statistics through purchasing upgrades in the store, but that costs quite a bit of the currency you capture through each level and does not do as much as getting the bonuses in level.
A way of making it harder to actually level is by having you lose all the progress you made in a level when time runs out. This is actually not a bad idea but often times it can lead to tedium and some levels are played over and over again because of inherent difficulties (the camera in the boat destroying stage makes that level infuriatingly cumbersome to over come).
Speaking of the camera view, since the camera must be adjusted every so often you can lose track of enemies from just trying to correct your line of sight. From Software really needs to look into a more dynamic camera setting if they continue with the Otogi series.
Each level has numerous things to destroy and for every level you successfully total you unlock special items and other rewards. You can improve your characters by going through the stages and collecting gold, there is a challenge stage with a time attack, protection stage amongst other things, items and outfits to unlock, and a new game plus option that allows you to go through the game again with suped up characters from an already completed game. There is loads to do in Otogi that can give a gamer hours upon hours of game time if they can withstand the tedium of destroying everything in sight over and over again.
Replay Ability: 5.5/10
Otogi 2’s appeal is squarely in the old methodology of action gaming where the story takes a backseat to destruction. The mood and style of the game (a demon terrorized old Japan) give the game a flavor that may not be that palatable to a large cross section of people who want their action games with guns and lasers. Plus the repetitive nature of the smash, kill, destroy game play is not for everyone, especially considering the tedium that sets in after around 30 minutes of playing.
The setting behind Otogi is very interesting and while not the most groundbreaking, approaches the demons set loose upon the world in a slightly different direction but not mainly through the mythical time period chosen and nothing more beyond that.
Otogi 2 could have been one of those games that have you muttering: ‘just one more level’ but instead goes from okay to tedious with random spikes of joyous destruction. The uneven enjoyment of levels really hurts and can quickly convince someone to pack in Otogi 2 all too quickly.
Even with the items you can discover and leveling that is possible the game never seems to fully connect with a gamer enough to make you play the game for more than a small 10 minute burst.
I was not sure if it was just my opinion that Otogi 2 was missing something so I called my friend Stephen over to give the game a whirl and he game to the conclusion that the game seemed to have no real soul. Steve likes quirky games, much like I do, and agreed that there are only some times in the game where it captures your attention and those are the times of fast and furious destruction. Unfortunately most of the time the mayhem seems too methodical and stodgy.
Replay Ability: 5.5/10