Onikira: Demon Killer Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Onikira: Demon Killer Preview



Long ago in ancient Japan, there existed a belief that if a mortal were able to connect their soul to that of a dragon, they would become unstoppable. It was said that only once this happened, and the results had been so awful the dragons fled the world in fear of letting it happen again. It all started when the emperor, Hirumo, too ambitious and power-hungry, called forth magic from the underworld and used the powers it gave him to kill a dragon and consume its soul. Hirumo remained in power for one thousand long years, no one able to stop his reign of terror. Finally, Mizuchi, one of the few dragons left remaining, willingly allowed a mortal warrior to bind with her in order to stop the all-powerful Hirumo. Together, they fought the emperor, but it only ended in a stalemate. They were unable to kill him, so, instead, the two agreed to sacrifice themselves to draw his soul into the underworld and trap him there. The legend still lives on, though. It is said that they fight a never-ending battle, and should Mizuchi ever lose her power over him, the corrupt emperor will return to reclaim his empire.

This is the premise Onikira: Demon Killer starts off with, placing the players straight into the action as a Japanese warrior. The player must fight through the world full of enemies in this 2D beat ‘em up, using weapon upgrades and various moves to overcome the demons escaping from Hell. With its dark, gruesome graphics and equally dark audio, Onikira has its players terrified as they slash their way through each new wave of enemies. All across the world, demons are clambering out of the cracks between the underworld and Japan, seeking their next meal – you.

Onikira doesn’t revolutionize the beat ‘em up world and it doesn’t claim to. It claims to combine amazing 3D beat ‘em ups like Ninja Gaiden with 2D platforming mechanics, which it does wonderfully. In terms of a beat ‘em up, it’s a little lackluster. Same old button spamming, combo-blasting action that, while fun, does get stale. It does manage to reinvent the traditional combat with platforming mechanics, using moves that have you launch into the air, jump off walls, slam enemies to the ground, and send them flying through the air. Between traversing this side scrolling world, the player must navigate platformer-esque challenges, as well as maneuver around enemies that force the player to adapt their combat in order to deal with hits from above and below.

The controls are simple enough, and definitely best played on a gamepad or controller, though configurable keyboard keys are a planned feature. Even the combos are fairly intuitive and simple to learn. These easy controls prove themselves a great enhancement to the gameplay, making the complex tricks in Onikira much easier to execute. You’ll need all the help you can get in this demon killing game. It’s not exactly easy to fight off hordes of demons playing as a mere warrior. Right away the game introduces you to the difficulties and dangers to be found, forcing you to learn to attack ground enemies while launching yourself into the air to deal with the enemies attacking from above. The platform mechanics are very evident, at times having the player grapple between ledges, fend off enemies when attempting to survive atop of crumbling platforms, and using weapons that aid you in airborne combat. Weapons aren’t the only things you use to fight your way through your foes in Onikira. The game offers an interactive environment, allowing the player to slash a building and send it toppling on top of their enemies, as well as other unique ways of using the background to their advantage.

The graphics are dirty, grungy, dark, and just a little crude –  and yet, somehow they’re perfect. This is a dark game, pitting the player against demons straight from Hell, and the mood is reflected beautifully – well, disgustingly – in the art style. The graphics are very dark and heavily tinged and bathed in red, as though the whole world is bleeding and drenched in the aftermath of battle. The lines are sharp and jagged. The enemies are grotesque and vile, really appearing as though they crawled out of the underworld, and the warrior you play as is clear and vivid, contrasting sharply with his Hellish environment. The game prides itself in its beautiful, hand-painted levels and stunning lighting effects. Even the audio, though not exactly top-tier, beautifully reflects the atmosphere of the game.

Though quite a decent game as of where it currently stands, Onikira: Demon Killer is an early-access title. Its developers are promising great things, a large list of features planned as the game progresses. Even at its current stage in development, its a good game, though maybe not entirely worth the price asked by the developers. As of right now, Onikira features only one boss fight, five enemy types, two levels, four different weapons, and fifty moves. There are plans to integrate six more enemy types and a couple of mini-bosses, more moves, a narrative spanning the length of six beautiful levels, and more dragon-filled action.

Onikira: Demon Killer currently marks itself as a fast-paced, action-filled 2D beat ‘em up. It features deadly enemies, exciting moves and weapons, and two interactive, beautifully hand-painted levels. Following up on a legend from feudal Japan, the game promises eight levels full of demon-riddled narrative following the story of two ancient beings and the bonds between them and their dragons. Still in early access, Onikira offers exciting, if limited, gameplay. It’s just as fun as any other beat ‘em up, yet it merges with the mechanics found in platformers to offer players both familiarity and an exciting challenge. For the current price, I can’t see Onikira quite being worth it except on sale, but if the developers follow through on their promises of the additional features, Onikira could be an excellent addition to any gamer’s library. Especially for those that love high-action, beautiful environments, and a corrupt, demon-infested Japan.