Akiba’s Beat Review

The Deets

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Title: Akiba’s Beat
Console: PlayStation 4
Genre: Single-player Action role-playing
Price: $49.99
Publishers: Xseed Games; PQube
Release Dates: May 16 2017 (NA); May 19 2017 (EU)

Story

You play as Asahi, a NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) who lives in Akiba.  On Asahi’s way to meet his friend, whom he is often late to meet with, he’s dragged into a Delusionscape.  He meets Saki and her side-kick Pinkun, and together they fight to take down the Delsionscape by defeating the Grand Phantasm (the big boss of the Delusionscape).   Even stranger than the Delusionscape is the repeating Sunday; after his first encounter with the Delusionscape, Asahi re-lives the same Sunday in Akiba. Along with Saki, Pinkun, and other companions you pick up along the way, you try to solve the mystery of the delusions, take down all Grand Phantasms, and put an end to the repeating Sunday.

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Game Play

In order to solve the mysteries behind the delusions, you need to investigate every corner of Akiba.  Every. Single. Corner.  The game mostly consists of running back and forth across the map to event spots.  And I literally mean back and forth.  Events will pop up on opposite ends of the map so once you reach a destination you get to turn right back around.

Aside from the main events, you have a fair amount of side missions.  But the side missions also consist of running back and forth across the map. The real benefit to completing the side missions is learning more about the side characters.  The more side missions you complete, the more you reveal about your companions. Of course, there is also the item bonus, too.

Dungeons are fairly easy.  Monsters can detect you, but it is also possible to run past them and avoid them entirely. Similar to all RPG’s, monsters pace around the map and initiate combat if you attack them or if they are close enough to attack you.

In battle you have a meter that limits the amount of actions you can do at a time.  This disables you from just bashing buttons to defeat a monster.  It’s a little clever in that you have to time your hits and dodge attacks, however, the controls are frustrating.  Your character automatically locks onto a target and it is difficult to switch between monsters and free motion feels non-existent.  Basically, all you can do is dodge and fight.  To switch it up, you can change fighters by using the direction pad. That’s a plus?  Customizing your special moves also feels clunky.  I’ve customized mine to every direction, however, only one special move is ever activated despite which direction I’m pushing. Could also be user error.

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Graphics

For those who have played Akiba’s Trip, the map will feel very familiar. In fact, Akiba’s Beat has taken the old map and pretty much left it the same except for one or two changes.  The main differences are navigation -most roads aren’t open for free travel so you have to take certain routes to reach your destination- and pedestrians have been re skinned into generic bystanders with no characteristics or features -just blue, pink, and green silhouettes.

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Characters are simple anime style who have some lip flap, blink now and then, and wobble from side to side during dialogue.  I’ve witnessed one cut scene, so far, and still feel entirely unimpressed.   You’re basically listening to the dialogue with no action. Of course, the true highlight of Akiba’s Beat is getting back into Akiba and solving the mystery behind the Delusions.

Verdict

Pros: If you have played Akiba’s Trip then you’ll be happy to return to the same streets of Akiba.  Although the battle system has changed from it’s predecessor, you are required to think before you attack.  The mystery of the story is intriguing.  I often found myself running through the dungeon, avoiding all monsters, just to get to the next part.

Cons: The battle system, while unique, is limiting and clunky.  There’s a loophole to avoiding the limited move gauge (activating Imagine mode) and you can just smash and bash away.  Lack of free motion, the ability to select targets, and clunky move controls limits the game play experience.  Running from one end of the map to the other to unlock event scenes can also feel extremely tedious.

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I have one major gripe about the game: I absolutely hate how the culture of fandom is being satirized.  Asahi is quite often put down by Saki and her familiar Pinkun.  They constantly insult his intelligence (Pinkun’s favorite insult is for Asahi is “dingus”) and hobbies.  I’m not saying being a lazy slacker should be glorified, but aside from him being a NEET, nothing else about him is revealed which makes it easy to poke and jab at his lifestyle.  While many can argue that Saki is the typical tsundere archetype, she is often insensitive to the fandom passions of the people in Akiba.  Her character shows disgust or discomfort when dealing with mega fans and this action is supposed to be portrayed as… funny? I am not amused.   What I enjoyed about Akiba’s Trip, at least the animated series, is that it embraces the passions that arise from the fandom.  Akiba’s Beat is the opposite.  I feel like this issue comes up because the characters are all shallow archetypes lacking in any real depth.  Having unlikable characters, and even portraying them as unlikable, is a serious flaw to the game. In addition, Pinkun is a very obnoxious mascot.

If I had to rank this game I would give it a 6 out of 10.

Score

Have you been looking forward to this game? Will you pick up this title? Are you a fan of Akiba’s Trip? Additional comments? Let us know!

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