Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines Review for PSVita / PSTV
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Disclaimer: My review is based on the demo version. Sadly, I’ve yet to play the full version but will update this accordingly (if my views change) once I’ve purchased the full game.
Title: Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines
Publisher: Alfa System / Sony
Release Date: March 2015
Where to Buy: $19.99 on Amazon.com
Overall: 64/80 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”
Concept: 10/10 The concept here is very fun, you can check out what I think of the Gameplay and Customization below which are really the highlights of this game. The concept is that you and all of your ancestors and descendants have been cursed by someone so that they will live a very short life and also never be able to reproduce normally – instead they must reproduce with gods and demons. The game is fast paced and your characters do die quickly which forces you to keep breeding with the gods to make new clan members. You can pass down heirloom armor and the armor gets new powers as it is passed down. Combat is turn based and there is also a city building element to the game. Read on to learn more about each of these features.
Story: 6/10 I did not get to see much of the story during the demo; but from my limited play time, it does not seem to be very story driven and seems more like a dungeon crawling hack n slash experience. There is a loose story there; about your family being cursed and only able to live for a max of 2 years (my main character died at 19 months; so they don’t always even make it to 2 years). Your family is chosen by a god to be reincarnated and you are given a chance to learn about and take revenge on whomever it was that cursed your bloodline. The god uses a sacrificial girl with magical abilities named Nueko who can bring herself back to life after she dies. From what I read about the game online, it seems that this Nueko becomes the main focus of the story; and that the story does not focus on your clan or your cursed bloodlines, but instead on protecting Nueko. Because it does not focus on your character or clan, many gamers feel the game is less personal and less immersive, and that their characters are only minor characters to the plot and story. This is just based on hearsay and not my own experience, so take that with a grain of salt too. 🙂 This is actually the 2nd game in the Oreshika series, but it’s the first one we’ve gotten in North America. I’m not sure if the story is at all connected to the first game or not.
Gameplay: 10/10 Gameplay is really unique in this game. I had a lot of fun in my brief time with the demo. The most unique thing obviously is that your characters live only a very short time so you are forced to mate with numerous gods in the game to create new offspring and once your player character passes away, you select one of your other clan members to take over as leader. Certain gods come and go at different times, and other gods must first be unlocked in various ways (sometimes by equipping certain items or killing X number of monsters etc). The customization is amazing allowing you to customize everything from your appearance, to class, abilities, offspring, and even the town. (you can read more about that under my section on customization). And the combat experience is also fun. There’s a roulette like wheel that appears and will determine what loot is available. You have the option of killing all enemies or just killing the leader. Sometimes if there’s an item you really want it’s best to go straight for the leader, because he will sometimes run away with the loot. You can take up to 8(I think?) characters into battle at once. Some can attack any row, others can only attack front or back row depending on their placement on the field. There’s also 8 classes to choose from each with their own fighting style. Most of the fights I encountered in the demo were too easy/dull but the demo forces you to play on the easiest game settings so I’m not going to deduct points for that. The monsters are visible on the screen and you can avoid combat or sneak up on the opponent to get an advantage. Everything you do advances time by one month. If you choose to mate with a god, one month passes, if you choose to explore a dungeon, one month passes (sometimes more, as you can choose to keep exploring or return home at the end of each month in a dungeon). Because of this, it’s a very fast paced game, and there is always a sense of urgency and pressure on the player to make the best decisions. Also later (not available in the demo) it is said that we will be able to visit other players’ towns and other cities and dungeons too. Taking pictures also seems to be a high focus in the gameplay – I haven’t figured out why yet – there’s even the ability to share the pics you take over social media from within the game. I don’t know if the pictures serve any other purpose though.
Graphics: 7/10 The thing about the graphics is that they are VERY stylized; they are intended to represent ancient paintings and scrolls from Japanese history. Therefore, you can notice a very “painter” like feeling to the graphics, including thick brush strokes and uneven coloration. This is intentional; similar to how Ghibli chose to use a similar technique while animating Princess Kaguya. If you’ve ever seen that film you’ll understand what I mean about the artwork in Oreshika. It’s not “ugly” but it’s definitely “different” from what most modern RPGs aim for.
Also the ability to put your own face into the game with the PS Vita camera can create some pretty ugly characters even if you are average to above average looking yourself lol. Luckily, the characters can also be manually created to get something more pleasing.
There are some very cute characters. Your servant and guide through the game, a little weasel girl is totally adorable. And some of the gods are sexy / beautiful.
All of the graphics have a distinctive anime feeling, and there is a huge amount of customization too in this game. (both of which are things I typically look for in games to review here.)
In battle, the graphics look pretty good, but I think some of the monster designs are rather ugly; (but hey they are monsters after all); there’s also a lot of recycled artwork, that’s been recolored for different monsters; red crab, blue crab, black crab, gold crab, green crab, etc. The special effects and abilities are also not very pretty or impressive in battle, which is a little disappointing.
Music: 7/10 The music, like the graphics, is intended to invoke feelings of ancient Japanese culture. It’s very asian sounding, which may not be to everyone’s tastes. I personally don’t care for a lot of the tracks used in this game; however, because it is very fitting with the theme and story of the game, I still graded the music fairly high.
Voice Acting: 8/10 I like the voice acting in this game because they kept the original Japanese voices in tact. Most of them are quite good; I do get confused by the main “God” in the game; I still haven’t decided if it’s male or female – It kinda sounds female, and it wears a lot of pink (maybe because I chose that for my own clan’s color?) lol. In the opening animation, I think “he” was wearing armor that showed off his pecs, so I am pretty sure he is male, but he is very feminine sounding/looking. I don’t care for his voice actor; but I guess a more rugged voice wouldn’t fit his somewhat androgynous appearance. I love the weasel girl’s voice actress she is super kawaii sounding! 🙂
Customization: 10/10 For sure, customization is where this game shines. You spend a long time initially making your first character, with the ability to either use a photo of your own face to try to generate a character that looks like you; or the ability to manually make any kind of character of your dreams, by selecting from over 20 different hair, eyes, noses, face shapes, and then further fine tuning your selections using slider mechanisms to control placement, height, width, depth, spacing, etc. Then you move on to choose your class and are shown a description of the different fighting styles. I chose lancer; but I ended up having the most fun attacking with my dancer later on. After you make your first clan member, you get to make 2 other clan members to fight along side you. I just went with the pre-generated options here, and selected their classes, but I think (could be wrong) that you can also customize their appearances as well. (but I was tired of customizing and just wanted to play the game lol). Because your characters die easily/quickly (my first death happened at 19 months which occurred less than 1 hour into the game), you must mate with the gods to produce new offspring. The children will take a genetic combination of facial features/hair/skin etc from both their human and god parents. You even have the ability to get demon looking or god looking children or animal children etc in this way; and then their traits are passed down when they mate also. And not only do you get to customize the characters, but also the town in which they live, by investing in different shops or boosting different aspects of the city, and inviting new shops, and unlocking new items, or new activities that you can undergo while in town, So really the customization is amazing in this game. It’s what makes the game so much fun.
Overall: 64/80 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”