By Dalton McClain / June 1st, 2017
|Release Date||May 16, 2017|
|Age Rating||T for Teen|
Akiba’s Beat is the third title in the Akiba’s series of games, but the titles couldn’t be any more different. While the previous two Akiba’s games were beat-em-up’s, Akiba’s Beat decided to venture into new territory and became an action-RPG. This change upset a lot of fans of the first game, but how did it actually play? Did the change in style work, or does this game just fall by the wayside?
The plot to Akiba’s Beat is that you’re a NEET who stumbles upon a Delusion created by an audio otaku. A Delusion is a place that’s created when someone feels strongly about how something should be. In this case, it’s from a guy who thinks Akihabara should go back to its audio roots. Along the way, you’ll find many more people who can also see the Delusions, and you team up with them as you all try to find out why you’re stuck in a never ending Sunday.
The plot to this game is fairly enjoyable, the only problem is that it goes on for far too long. It took me almost 60 hours to beat this game, and a lot of it felt really padded out. Almost all of the scenes dragged out for far too long, to the point where it wasn’t really enjoyable to sit through anymore. I had already figured out what happened and who caused the Delusion about 2-3 hours before the characters in the story had. The story suffers tremendously because of these long and padded plotlines. Their length is another issue here because the pacing to this game is absolutely dreadful. You’ll get one dungeon done, then you’ll have a few hours of cutscenes before you can even go into another one. I’m used to a lot of exposition in RPGs, but it’s usually broken up by gameplay. It honestly wouldn’t be so bad if the cutscenes weren’t predictable and actually had a point to them. Banter is good in games, but there’s a point to where it’s just there to pad out the time. Akiba’s Beat reads like a visual novel, with some gameplay scattered here and there. The only saving graces are the witty humor, the nicely written characters, and the fairly interesting story. Other than that, it just feels like a chore to read all of the dialogue.
On a much brighter note, Akiba’s Beat, by all accounts, is a very pretty game. The art is solid, and everything looks visually appealing to the eye. I especially liked what they decided to do with the other inhabitants of Akihabara. Instead of just having generic characters or just nothing at all, they opted to have all of the NPC’s as different colors that match the scheme of the game. This gives the game style and is very much appreciated. The only complaint I have is that some of the animations look kind of cut up, such as when you jump. It’s not bad enough to take you out of the moment, it just seems a little choppy. Everything else looks really good, and I really like the whole style that this game has going on. All of the skills in the game look really pretty, the animation is fluid, and the Imagine modes make your character look really cool. The level of detail that’s gone into not only creating a realistic version of Akihabara but also into making it seem stylized, is astounding.
The music’s really good as well, which makes sense since this is Akiba’s Beat after all. It’s all very catchy and sounds exactly like you’re listening to a DJ in a big city. It’s the type of music that you don’t just want to listen to in game, but every day. Especially the music when you go into Imagine mode. The sound design is spot on too, and the voice acting is really nice. Some of the characters have really grating voices, but other than that it’s a really good dub. There is one big flaw with the voice acting, and that’s the repeated dialogue. As you travel around, whichever character you have selected as a support will tell you about things that are around you. They annoyingly point out every single thing that’s around you and repeat the same dialogue over and over again. I had to end up muting my TV whenever I was just walking around town, or else I’d be heckled by the voice of my support character telling me what kind of stores I’m passing. Some of the humor when doing this was pretty funny at first, but it wore off really fast. If there was an option to turn this off I wouldn’t have much of a problem with it, but sadly you’re stuck listening to it through the entire game, and it doesn’t get any better.
Mechanically, the game functions really well. Everything runs nice, and the frame dips were basically non-existent. The issue is that Akiba’s Beat doesn’t really do anything new. The gameplay is simple, you attack with Square, do different abilities with X, and dodge with Circle. Most of the gameplay just consists of mashing Square to win, when you can mash it at least. The game limits how many hits you can do, and you can upgrade it as you progress through the story. It’s a little tedious at first, but it’s a neat concept at least. You can also do skills to find the enemies’ weakness, but why bother when mashing Square gets you the same result, albeit a bit slower? Nine times out of ten all of the enemies in the dungeon will have the same weakness anyway, so it’s not like it’s too difficult to figure out. Even the boss fights are basically just button mashers. After hitting your enemy so many times you can enter Imagine mode, but that doesn’t really help you all that much either. You won’t get knocked back and you can hit as many times as you want, but it doesn’t make the battles any different or easier. It’s all very boring, and it doesn’t feel like it was as polished as it could have been.
The blandness really seeps in when you start to realize that nothing in this game is complicated. Picking out equipment is as easy as going and buying the latest items in the shop. You may have to grind a bit for money, but that’s about all you’ll have to grind for. I managed to be over-leveled in almost every dungeon just by fighting everything that I saw. Even making a party is really easy because of the button mashing that I mentioned previously. I had a support character equipped that would heal me every so often, and I was completely set for the whole game. You can also use trading cards that give you a special bonus, and a maid service that lets you use them as support characters to give you certain bonuses and help you navigate around. These are interesting concepts, but they don’t really help the gameplay at all. This game didn’t require me to think or work all that much, and that’s a bad combination.
Everything just feels really dull, especially the dungeon crawling. All of the dungeons have a different theme to them, based on whichever otaku created them. However, when you take away the pretty aesthetics they all kind of run together. Nothing about the dungeons are really memorable. Even the enemies aren’t exclusive to the dungeons, as the same enemy types are recycled throughout the entire game albeit with some reskins and new weaknesses. The dungeons aren’t the only things that are bland, the overworld isn’t too much better. While the fact that they reconstructed Akihabara that well is astounding, there just isn’t that much to actually do. There are a bunch of shops scattered around, but they all contain the same items so it’s best to just use one that’s near a save point so that you can teleport to it. Other than that you can find a few side quests every now and again, but that’s it. Akihabara feels empty and is very boring to walk around. After the initial “wow” factor, all you’re stuck with is a large world with absolutely nothing to do.
The main problem is that Akiba’s Beat feels very soulless and bland. The story is okay and the humor is really funny at times, but it’s plagued with cutscenes that go on for far too long, repetitive gameplay, and annoying voice lines. The game struggles to have a sense of identity because there’s nothing really unique to draw you in. It’s a very run-of-the-mill action-RPG, that has a lot of minor nuances that turn beating the game into a 50-hour long chore. I can’t honestly recommend this game for the $50 it retails for. The game works, but it’s nothing spectacular and doesn’t have a good hook. If the game was half the length it was now, I could probably recommend it more, but as it stands right now I would only pick this game up if you’re a devoted fan of action-RPG’s. Otherwise, I would wait for a price drop at the very least. Akiba’s Beat is a very generic game, that really struggles to find its own identity.
Review copy provided by the publisher
akiba's beatAquireXSEED Games