And, while Oni
is still hit and miss when it comes to gameplay, it fortunately has a good bit more ups than downs. Save points and control issues aside, Oni
is a fresh look at a tired genre, and it may well usher in a new wave of action gaming.
You are Konoko, the requisite Purple-Haired Anime Chick, on a quest to save the world from the bad guys. The plot is straight out of 'bubblegum' anime, and won't particularly surprise anyone relatively familiar with the genre. That's not to say that it's terrible -- just that it's not particularly original.
The core conceit of Oni has Konoko running around in various environments, flipping switches and dodging laser beams, and wailing on the grunts that wander around. There's an occasional genuine challenge, where a little use of the grey matter is required, but for the most part, the game's structure is simple.
It would be painfully simple if it weren't for the sheer variety of moves that you can do. Yes, there are ranged weapons, but for the most part they are used before you close in for the kill. Ammo is frighteningly limited, and you'll find yourself often eschewing guns for fisticuffs. And there Oni really begins to shine.
You start off with a rather limited repertoire of actions, but as the game progresses you learn new combat moves. And moves can be combined into combos that deal even more damage than your standard attack. Not to mention, you have your throws and your disarm attacks. It's all done by the keyboard, and is quite difficult to get the hang of at first -- and some of the moves are almost impossible to get the hang of -- but simple enough once you've gotten used to the game.
Oni also offers a few other handy features. The on-screen display is minimalistic, but it shows a great deal of data at the same time. The 'objective compass' is quite useful (when you have it), showing you the general direction and distance of the next thing you need to do. The levels are usually simple enough to keep you from losing your way, however.
One of my major beefs with the game, however, is the lack of save-anywhere support. I don't particularly care if this game is also being released on various other systems that may or may not support said feature. Adding it in the PC game would make a world of difference, as some sequences are damn near impossible and it's not particularly fun to run through them six or seven times in a row.
Lack of multiplayer support also smarts. On the positive side, the inclusion of a solid training level really helps you get into the game without having to flip through an instruction book or learn a bunch of keystrokes outside of actual gameplay.