we've been hearing about Oni, Bungie's anime-style action adventure,
for years now; with the holidays being strangely slow with pc games
release, we thought itd be worth taking a close look at this
recently-released demo. The
high quality of the Oni demo is impressive and does all it can to set
it on course to be one of the only fist-fighting games ever released
for the PC. Despite a
save system that lacked a quicksave feature, the amazing combat,
gameplay, style, and graphics are simply stunning.
The intro movie is
outsourced work done by a japanese animation house and it sets the
tone of the game by delivering your basic post-apocalyptic good girl
vs. bad guy scenario. The heroine of the game is the slim, animated character
Konoko, apparently an unholy mix of technology and nature. The
plot throws this young agent from the Tech Crimes Task Force into
immediate combat as she tries to smash a mafia-style crime syndicate.
The interplay between two of her associates, Shinatama and Griffin,
back at her base suggests there's more to Konoko than meets the eye,
howeverexpect plenty of bizarre plot twists as the story unfolds.
demo begins with a surprisingly elegant tutorial. The controls, view,
and play of the game are explained, reviewed, and presented in a
straightforward, yet attractive, manner. The folks at Bungie have
spiced an oft-boring time in many games with a good mix of combat and
acrobatics. The game is controlled smoothly through the use of about
half a dozen keys and the mouseright from the start, combat moves
and combos are used, explained, and ultimately very easy to learn.
Since Oni is first and foremost a fist-fighting action game, applying
the controls and understanding the interface are paramount to its
Once youre up and
moving around, learning moves and controls is a simple training
program designed to help get acquainted with your surroundings.
Konoko's controls are very effective at executing various moves
including grappling techniques and jump kicks. Theres also a
little ranged weaponry available--gunplay is integrated nicely into
the fighting model where either action does not affect the other on a
gameplay level. If you have your gun out you can still kick or punch
and fire at the same time, allowing for a random bullet to be fired in
whatever direction the gun was pointed in the middle of said kick or
theres navigation help with the implementation of a compass-like
tool, which indicates where you need to go next, both vertically and
graphics in the game are very impressive, with movements that are
fluid and precise. The game characters are drawn with care and
have a life-like "breathing" motion that varies with recent
actions. Cut scenes are a simple letter boxing motion of the
current screen, no graphical changes are made to upset the flow of the
game. Graphical extras include an innovative damage system
displayed via flashes of varying colors on an enemy--the first hit on
an enemy will produce a green or yellow blow depending on how the blow
was; a red flash indicates the final blow to take out an enemy.
Overall, Oni is fast
and produced no slowdowns, even in the largest, most populated areas.
Combined with a rather short loading time, it's a thumbs up on the
speed department. There
is one camera oddity displayed when the camera gets close to a wall
and Konoko is very near it, the engine tries to erase walls that would
otherwise block your view. This leads to some goofy effects, with you
able to see through walls to sections that shouldn't be shown.
This clearly goes beyond the requisite element of stealth the
effects are crisp, clean, and fulfilling as is the majority of the
voice work. The music is event-oriented and helps player immersion
into the game. Though the demo jumps from mission one to mission four,
the story so far is cohesive and keeps the missions flowing nicely.
The save system is is something else altogether; Oni is
autosaved at specified points, and reloaded in the event youre
unsuccessful, and means that all your characteristics (ammo, guns,
health) are restored, too. Woe is you if they were low when the game
was saved. While modestly
better than games with no in-mission save whatsoever, I do not (and
will not) understand the lack of a quicksave in every single
mission-based game from, say, 1995 ontheres simply no
reason to exclude it, period.
Oni is most impressive in the way it blends long-range weapon-based
combat with hand-to-hand fighting. Too often in the past, games
attempting to do this have fallen heavily on one side or the other and
weapons dominated hand-to-hand or simply seemed an ineffective
afterthought. By cunningly putting such harsh ammo restrictions on the
guns, Bungie has ensured players must keep swapping between fighting
styles. Stealth also comes into playKonoko can move silently if
required, offering an important first-strike advantage.
In that moving with stealth sometimes equals being invisible
in a clearly lit room directly in front of the enemy is problematic,
so, too, is the exclusion of a multiplayer component.
Im as willing as the next guy to admit that multiplayer
alone doesnt make a game, and that too often its tacked on to
save a thin plot. But,
with the fine balance of combat styles achieved by Bungie, Oni screams
for multiplayer, pure and simple.
the elements in Oni have been done before, they may never have been
done so well. This is a
title weve watched in the past and is sure to be one well keep
an eye on in the future. Our
advice? Get the demo and
enjoy a taste of gaming goodness that we continue to have high hopes