Editor’s Note: This is a review for the PC port of Akiba’s Trip
Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed has plenty of personality, but falls flat with a wonky combat system, repetitive gameplay, and a lacking PC port. This might be a trip you might not want to embark on.
In the city district of Akiba, the player takes the role of a man who is taken by an evil organization to be tested on. When signing a job contract to earn collectible figures, he neglected to read over the fine print which allows them to test on him. The end result? He becomes a synthister, man made vampire, a being which usually becomes irrational and kills for their own gains. However, your character is different to the other synthisters, and is saved by a mysterious girl called Shizuku.
While somewhat serious of an initial storyline, Akiba’s Trip quickly becomes a bonkers narrative trip of funny moments and surprisingly good voice acting. Most of the characters are archetypes of previous J-RPGs, and that’s one of the developer’s key concepts: to satirize video game and anime tropes. You have the sexy businesswoman who is secretive in her motives, an annoying exchange student who has an unnecessary high pitched voice, and the badass girl with little personality. However, there are a few saving graces. For one, the main character’s little sister, Nana, is hilarious with a non-traditional older sense of deadpan language, and each comedic line is driven with great timing by the voice actress. The scenarios between the characters, despite their archetypes, can be funny as well. Another plus is that there is a dialogue tree that results in different responses from the characters, and your decisions dictate which of the five multiple endings occur. Overall, the story is well written with clever comedic localized writing, and succeeds in its mission to satirize video game and anime character tropes.
What Akiba’s Trip has just right is the environment. While minimalist with its anime style, Akiba’s Trip brings personality to the city of Akiba through various animations and environment replication from the real world. You can hear music being played from nearby businesses, trailers blaring from TV screens, and the movement of cars in a busy landscape. Akiba’s Trip is able to replicate the city so much that they were able to include many brands from Japanese culture, including Ragnarok Odyssey, Conception 2, Star Kebab, Sega, Disgaea, Hyperdimension Neptunia, and more. They even have the Gundam Cafe. On the official Steam page for Akiba’s Trip, it claims that “all major outdoor locations from the town have been painfully recreated, with over 130 real-life shops accurately represented,” and this seems to be the case. The world and sound design for Akiba’s Trip is superb, with an attention to detail for the culture of the geek-centric Akihabara.
The art created for the cutscenes and the in-game models match well with the thriving atmosphere of the city, and the wacky nature of the game itself. The NPCs however, are a different story. There are so few character models that you will see multiple versions of the same person over and over again, sometimes in the same instance; It’s really offputting in this phenomenal recreation of Akihabara. The music also lacks variety, as the battle theme is as generic as it gets and the theme repeats in short loops, and the melody of the theme gets irritating quickly. The music that plays during story cutscenes and more important battles aren’t memorable, either. However, the lack of music while in the streets of Akihabara is a nice touch, as it emphasizes the sound design of the city itself, and the music for the characters’ hideout, MOGRA has a catchy funky tune that is fun to listen to. Like the battle music, on the other hand, it tends to loop certain parts of the song too much.
Another disappointment is the wonky PC port itself. Almost every fault that a PC port can have is in this game. There is a simple graphics menu, which has limited options–including the amount of NPCs on screen, the resolution, v-sync, and the ability to make the game full screen or in a window. That’s it. It’s very primitive, and for a game that has a simple graphical style, the specifications needed for Akiba’s Trip are ludicrous with its recommended specs at 3.3 GhZ with an Intel Core i5-2500K, and a GeForce GTX 760 (which has 4GB of VRAM) and 8GB of RAM. The game on PC requires at least an Intel Core i3-530 at 2.93 GHz (or an AMD Phenom II X4 810 at 2.60 GHz), NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450 with 1GB VRAM or an ATI Radeon HD 5870 (also with 1GB VRAM), and 6GB of RAM. If you were thinking it would run on a standard laptop or desktop, you might want to check twice.
In addition, the mouse and keyboard controls are lousy. The camera feels stiff with the mouse, and controlling the game with the keyboard is awkward at best. The developers also weren’t able to place mouse and keyboard inputs in the game’s tutorials (with only controller buttons being shown) so it’s confusing figuring out which button does what in game (unless you back out and look at the options menu outside of the game or write down the inputs), and with quite a lot of commands to memorize, this gets frustrating. There a few benefits, however. The game plays well with the controller, and it allows you to set your inputs to whatever buttons you want in the options menu, as well as allowing the player to use the DualShock 4 without any third party software. Among the various issues with the PC port, there have been encounters of two inexplicable crashes within an hour of play time, so save often! A supposed representative from XSEED on the Steam community page is claiming that they will be addressing most known issues in a patch coming soon, but we will have to wait and see.
The game itself tasks the player with battling and taking enemies’ clothes off, to either make them run away in an exaggerated fashion or become exposed to being a synthister (a vampire) by the sunlight. Akiba’s Trip features various ways of stripping people’s clothes off in an elaborate fashion. You can beat the clothes off from hitting them over and over again, wait until that part of the body is weak enough to activate an animation, or activate a special move which has the main character and your chosen companion work together in an over the top cutscene. The animations for both stripping the characters off or the elaborate team up cutscene are funny at first, but then they get repetitive and drag down the combat system quickly.
Another aspect of the combat system is that it’s just as repetitive as these cutscenes. For hours upon hours, the aim of the game is just to keep hitting and strip whenever they’re weak enough. There’s no strategy in the system itself, but it switches up every once in a while when you get new items. You can pummel enemies with bats, fists, a monitor, and much more. There are also a lot of clothes to purchase in the game, which give the character higher defense. This switches up the formula a little bit, but doesn’t add enough to keep tedium at bay. The way the battles are controlled are also wonky. The locking system is not precise, and most of the time your attacks will miss the opponent. The animations for fist attacks are also a nuisance, as it takes a long time to reset and make another string of combos. The blocking and dodge systems are barebones, and not completely reliable.
What doesn’t help is the lack of mission variety. In the main story, the missions rarely derive from attacking hordes of enemies until all of them are eliminated. Sometimes you have to go to NPCs to collect items, but other than that, there isn’t much to it. It’s sad, because the gameplay does not match up with the wacky nature of the game’s story and environment.
Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed is a flawed game with plenty of personality. It has few factors going for it: The characters, even though they’re meant to be archetypes, are well voiced, the Akihabara district is presented superbly in the game, and the addition of multiple story thread lines is a fantastic addition. The issues with the game plague it drastically though, as there are many PC port issues, an imprecise combat system, and a repetitive mission structure.
A press copy was provided by XSEED Games for the purpose of review