Contrary to what most gamers believe, From Software made games before the Souls series. Don’t feel bad: I was taken aback by that as well. Luckily, I had already purchased this and the sequel before everyone figured out how amazing all of From Software’s games truly are. I rarely see this title, or any of From’s previous games on the used game shelves anymore, and if I do, they are pricey. Otogi: Myth of Demons was published by Sega on August 26, 2003 for the original Xbox. This title didn’t make as many waves as Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls, but I still had a great, albeit difficult, time with it.
The story is a grim one, as is usual from From, but you can see the roots of where the Souls stories were founded. For thousands of years the Imperial Court ruled the land, but something has broken the seal and their land falls into ruin. A perpetual darkness now shrouds the land and, with the Imperial Court in ruins, the city is devoid of all life. Raikoh is awoken from his slumber by an unnamed woman. She lets him know that it is time for penance to be made seeing as he was part of the “clan that presides over the death of men.” Now Raikoh is tasked with ridding the land of demons with his newfound power.
This is one of those older games that adheres to breaks between levels, which messes up the flow for me. Once you “purify” a level you are sent to a menu where you can buy new equipment or equip what you have found. Most of the time you find new spells or melee weapons to help you defeat the demons. The controls are decent (it takes a while to get used to the Xbox’s huge controller) but it is the RT Stick that threw me off. The options menu couldn’t help me either, so there I was, stuck with an inverted camera which takes several deaths to get used to. The rest of the controls I handled pretty well; “A” is jump, double tapping it is double jump. “B” is light attack and “Y” is heavy attack – there are no stamina bars here, so I could swing all I wanted. “X” is magic, which helps with flying enemies. I cannot count the number of times I fell off a cliff because I was fighting an airborne enemy. Finally, RT is dash. This is what I used to save my skin on multiple occasions, but sometimes I dashed too much for my own good and found myself falling to my death.
The game looks great, being over thirteen years old. From’s designers haven’t changed a bit; they’ve just gotten more Tim Burton-like. This game has a lot of color to it within the world and within the enemies, which is something we won’t see very much of later down the line from this developer. The design of the enemies are a sight to behold as well as they’re all ghastly and something I would not want to meet in a dark alley, imbued with magic or not. The music sets the tone for the job you have to do, and I swear that From’s female voiceover cast has a lifetime contract. I can swear that the lady that speaks to me in Otogi, speaks to me in the other From games as the FireKeeper or the Doll. She really fits well in the games, so From does know what they are doing with their talent.
Fans of From Software or challenging hack ‘n’ slash titles need to give Otogi a real good look. This title is a nice look at how From Software has grown as a developer and where all the ideas for the Souls games were slowly born. I had a lot of fun going back in time with this title; it wasn’t as aggravating as other From Software titles and it holds up well today. I look forward to my time with the sequel. Generally, sequels are better and I hope that holds true. I’ll be hacking and slashing some more demons soon with my Duke controller!