The Tale of Onogoro always looked interesting to me when it was released on the Meta Quest 2, so when I found out it was coming to PSVR2 I knew it was one I would like to play. AMATA K.K really tried something different with Last Labyrinth in the VR space, so I was intrigued with what they would do with this title. Now I have ventured through Onogoro island, what did I think?
A priestess called Haru summons on unnamed deity to the island of Onogoro to help her try and stop Matusake from unleashing the power of the Total Nexus. You must work together in order to stop Matusake as he weakened the priestess by removing some of her limbs and bounding her to a magic stone. The question is can you take out all the Kami along your journey to build up Haru’s powers and stop the Total Nexus’s power being released on Onogoro?
What is interesting is the way they have handled Haru’s predicament in the game and this has allowed the team at AMATA K.K. to introduce multiple elements of gameplay. This makes the game feel like a narrative-based visual novel with plenty of puzzles and finally action-adventure – and this has really worked.
The gameplay elements all resolve around your Celestial Weapons – which are two steam-punk looking guns. These will be used to either collect and fire the three elements in the game, which are fire (red), wind (green) and stone (yellow). You will also use them to interact with items like switches and boxes and to pick up Haru on the magic stone and move her around – as she is not strong enough to move on her own.
This allows them to be used for all of the puzzle aspects of the game, as well as the combat. The puzzles start off quite simple, but they increase in difficulty each chapter you advance, while also becoming more grand in scale. You can tell from the early puzzles right through to the end the team have put a lot of thought into them and this makes them entertaining. In the puzzles you are going to be using the three elements against their intended targets. However, these elements are not always available and you need to either solve puzzles to move or destroy obstacles or unlock doors to show what you need next. Add to this the need to place Haru next to praying stones and pulling switches with your Celestial Weapons to active set parts of the puzzles. With them adding so many elements it certainly let them get creative with the puzzles by the end.
Next you have the action-adventure part of the game, as previously mentioned the combat is handled using the Celestial Weapons as well, which will see you taking on Kenzoku and Kami around Onogoro. The Kenzoku are smaller elemental enemies, which are taken out by the same elemental power collected in your weapons – again these might not be always be available and puzzle solving might be needed before taking them out.
You then have the Kami which are really big enemies and are the games boss fights, again you might have some basic puzzle elements in these to make it so the bosses can be hurt by you. These also bring in the elemental powers into the puzzles at times and are needed to do damage to the Kami. These boss fights are all handled in different ways when it comes to the puzzles and leading up to be able to damage them – and like the puzzles get bigger and more grand each chapter.
The team have made sure that they have mixed the puzzles and action well to make sure neither of these gameplay elements get boring. These are broken up with cut-scenes and plenty of dialogue between you and Haru and sometimes Matusake – which brings in the feeling of the visual novel style game.
AMATA K.K. have really taken an interesting approach with the visual style of the game, with Haru, Matusake, the Kenzoku and Kami all looking cell-shaded and the environments looking like something out of JRPG. At first this sort of threw me off, but it soon grew on me and I thought the mix of styles really helps the visuals of the game stand out – along with the mix of gameplay elements.
With this being a story-driven game which uses a lot of spoken dialogue it was super important that the game had solid voice acting – I am pleased to say that it does. Both the English and Japanese voice actors have done a fantastic job, with subtitles being available means you can use the Japanese audio if you want the full experience from the game. Outside of the voice acting all the sounds effects and use of oriental music really sets the scene and makes sure you immersed in the island of Onogoro.
When it comes to comfort the game can be played seated or standing, and includes all the movement options you now expect in VR games. Allowing for Teleport, smooth locomotion, snap-turning, movement speeds, vignettes and hand or head orientated movement. Meaning the game is accessible for all style of players.
The controls are kept simple, with the analogues being using from movements, grips being used to pick up your Celestial weapons and the triggers being used to move things, collect elemental powers and to shot. You might be thinking how can the triggers collect and shoot at the same time – the trigger will collect elements if your lazer is pointing at an elemental rock and fire if not. This is a simple control scheme making sure you can concentrate on the puzzling and combat.
Now, the game doesn’t really make much use out of the adaptive triggers with you only having the Celestial Weapons, and them being the same in each hand. However, when in boss fights or the environment is shaking/moving the controls rumble is used – add to this the headset rumble and really makes it feel like you are in the game.
To playthrough the game it took me around six and half hours, and I did not look for all the orbs that you can collect in each level of the chapters. In most cases I found one of the two available naturally. Although I do not think I will find myself going through it again to collect them all, I was impressed with the length of the game.
REVIEWED USING PLAYSTATION VR 2
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a review code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a press code does not affect my judgement of the product.
I really like it when developers try something different with games, especially in Virtual Reality and AMATA K.K. have done this again with The Tale of Onogoro. I love visual novel style games, so bringing a story-driven adventure, mixing it with puzzles, action and boss fights has lead to this game being something special. However, if you are not a fan of large amounts of cut-scenes and games that are dialogue heavy, this might ruin it for you.
With the many elements to the puzzles, not only needing Haru to solve puzzles but having to move her and adding the elemental requirements allowed them to be creative with the solutions. Adding to this pleasant visuals and fantastic voice acting finishing off the game perfectly. Please, do not overlook The Tale of Onogoro as it really is fantastic game, and something different to what is currently on the VR market.
Release Date: February 22nd 2023
Developer: AMATA K.K.
Publisher: AMATA K.K.
Price: US $34.99/ CA $46.99 / €34.99 / £29.99