Akiba’s Beat – Review
Follow Genre: 3D action role-playing
Developer: Acquire
Publisher: PQube/XSeed Games
Platform: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4
Tested on PlayStation Vita

Akiba’s Beat – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: strong soundtrack, appealing cast of characters
Bad: lacks originality, lesser graphics and combat mechanics
User Score
5.5
(4 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.5/10 (4 votes cast)

In 2013, we were introduced to the Akiba games series with Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed where we’ve had to fight off synthesters, vampire-like beings who preyed on the patrons of Akibahara, absorbing their social energy and will to live. Its unique, fun gameplay and the fact that it took place in a virtual representation of the real-life shopping district of Akibahara, situated in Tokyo, really impressed us at 3rd-Strike. We gave it a great score as we pointed out its unique, funny atmosphere as it strongest asset, while the combat could feel repetitive and the loading screens long and annoying. Now, after a giving the latter some polishing for PlayStation 4, Acquire has decided to release a new iteration in their Akiba series called Akiba’s Beat, calling it their first action role-playing game. Curious as we are, we grabbed our PlayStation Vita from our desk, ready to grind our teeth in this new adventure in Akihabara.Akiba's Beat bannerStory

Asahi Tachibana is a NEET, another word for someone who’s a college-dropout, unemployed and spends his days lazily playing videogames and watching anime shows.  His best friend Mizuki Aihara, who’s kind of Asahi’s opposite, keeps an eye out for him. Asahi’s has a bad habit of slacking off, keeps forgetting appointments and has no sense of responsibility. When on a Sunday, Mizuki asks him to join for lunch at their usual place in the Akihabara district. On his way there, Asahi’s world gets turned upside down as he meets a mysterious girl named Saki Hoshino and her familiar Pinkun. Before he realizes what’s going on, he’s being dragged into the Delusionscape where certain people’s encroached delusions get materialized by opening a rift and haunt the real world.  Saki explains they’re chosen ones which are chosen for nullifying the encroached delusions created by tormented humans. Eventually they manage to take down the Grand Phantasm, the selected delusion’s manifestation taking the size of a large monster. As the delusion dissolves, they’ve come to realize that time or particularly the world is stuck in a time-loop.Akiba's Beat 01

As they relive Sunday over and over again, they find a strange connection between the time-loop, the encroaching delusions and a strange and unidentifiable villain with a white suit and pink scarf, that wants to tear the very wall between reality and delusion. Along the way, they meet lots of new friends, allies and a vicious enemy.

Akiba’s Beat story isn’t anything to sneeze at as it draws its inspiration from other popular videogames for its story and plot. Aside from its interesting cast of characters that tries to bring some variety and depth, the story fails to impress as it misses originality. The interactions and dialogues tend to be entertaining due to the fact that you get involved in the daily lives of the young people, otaku’s and the culture in Tokyo and Akihabara.  The available sub-events which are a kind of sub quests and optional, offer the chance to learn more personal details about your teammate.Akiba's Beat 02Graphics

Akiba’s Beat definitely has the looks but falls behind on its predecessor Akiba’s Trip. While the character models are presented as breathing, laughing and greatly designed 2D images with 3D models on the background, the overall visual quality fails to keep up. The environments look like cart box environments filled with different colored silhouettes that have to represent the crowds of people leading their daily lives in Akiba. If we compare with Akiba’s Trip, it’s a major step backward for a current-gen title as its predecessor had a semi open world filled with 3D models of people and buildings. The dungeons on the other hand, look decently built and designed beside the fact that most of the dungeons look similar in built-up or lay-out except for changing thematic designs.
Akiba's Beat 03Sound

As for its soundtrack, the game succeeds in delivering a decent and extensive soundtrack filled with a mix of J-pop, electronic and ambient music. The soundtrack really has a groovy sound accompanied by beats that are pleasant to listen to and never grows bored. Especially the intro song called ‘Again’ being performed by ClariS is really impressive and infectious. Aside from its extensive soundtrack, the game offers decent and well-written voice work. Every dialogue in game is voiced in Japanese accompanied by English subtitles. The voice work is really well performed and gives the characters more depth and personality.

Gameplay

Unlike its predecessor, akiba’s Beat is a 3D dungeon crawler with a semi open world city map that acts as the main location of the game and story. The city map offers story scripted doorways to different dungeons called Deluses residing in the Delusionscape. The dungeons are quite linear in design and aren’t randomly generated which isn’t such a bother as it helps keeping the focus on the game and not on occasional monster or treasure hunting.
Akiba's Beat 04

As you’ll progress through the story, you’ll be either experiencing the story while strolling through the long boring city map or you’ll be plowing through dungeons taking down the delusions plaguing Akiba.  During the story segments, you’ll be exploring the city of akiba and as the map is divided in large segments, you won’t have to walk to while mile to reach your destination. Early in the game, you’ll get a fast travel option that will help skipping large parts of the map but whether you’re on foot or take the “fast-travel” option, you’ll still be bothered with lots annoying loading screens. Some of them can really take their time to load…

Combat seems to be straightly borrowed from the ‘Tales Of’ games and a bit too literally at that. You attacks depend on the amount of AP you have at your disposal as it depletes with each attack you perform. AP will replenish after a few seconds but it limits your possibilities as dodging and blocking uses AP. In a way, it forces you to think before you act, using tactics and strategy to take down your enemies. But blindly attacking without paying heed to your AP counter, can bring you in a dire situation and leaving you open for a painful barrage of enemy attacks. This way, the combat feels less free flowing as you’d expect which might be frustrating. As you level up and use abilities, you collect new attacks. These attacks can be assigned to different combinations of the directional, action and shoulder buttons. It’s not entirely a bad thing to use a well-known game mechanic from other popular franchises but it doesn’t feel like they’ve put enough time in this gameplay segment and lacks originality.Akiba's Beat 05

Still, Acquire did not really lose the ball here as they’ve added some ideas of their own to the combat system by implementing a sort of ‘Personal Pumpputer’ system or PP for short. With PP you can tweak the stats of your weapons, your personal stats and even improve the amount of AP you can use during combat. These tweaks come in the form of computer components which can either find or buy in one of the stores in Akihabara. For instance, processor parts improve your stats while RAM memory increases your AP rate. Another unique aspect of combat is the use of the Imagination Gauge. Alas, it sounds better than it actually is but isn’t necessarily bad either. The Imagination Gauge gets filled during combat and once the gauge is full, can be unleashed to drastically improve the stats of your party. During the activation, a song plays and you’ll have an unlimited amount of AP or beats which can make you attack almost endlessly. As you’ll progress through the game, you’ll be able to equip different kinds of songs. As cool as it sounds, it feels a bit too similar to the overdrives from the ‘Tales Of’ games.Akiba's Beat 06

Conclusion

After having enjoyed Akiba’s Trip with its originality and fun gameplay, it’s hard to give a decent score for its successor. In lots of ways, Akiba’s Beat feels like a major step back in what its predecessor had to offer.  But don’t be mistaking as Akiba’s Beat is still a fun game to play as it sports a great cast of characters that will help you guide through the weaker story and beat those dungeons. Just like Akiba’s Trip, this one is hard to recommend to everyone. It will most probably appeal fans of JRPG’s and Japanese culture or games in general. But if you happen to come upon this title and got money to spare, don’t hesitate to give Akiba’s Beat a try.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.5/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Akiba's Beat - Review, 5.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
JasuSakura
JasuSakura


Being over 30 years old, I've been playing videogames since I've exchanged my pacifier for a game controller. I've only recently started reviewing games and it's incredibly fun to do and educational as I get to know a lot of new stuff about videogames and the industry. My favourite game genres are RPG's(strategy RPG, J-RPG,...), adventure, platforming, simulation and retro.

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