The Tale of Onogoro is the latest game from studio AMATA K.K. a departure in genre from their previous game Last Labyrinth which was a dark horror game but in still keeping close to their former Team Ico roots.
You play as a mysterious traveller from an unseen world a ghost of sorts who awakens on in a mysterious alternate steampunk feudal Japanese world, you must help Haru a young Shine maiden defeat the evil in her world to bring about peace.
The Tale of Onogoro took me 6 hours to beat however I only got the "bad" ending, getting the good ending requires that you get three stars in each level and find all the hidden secrets in the game a challenge that I was not up to taking on but would have extended the play time by quite a bit.
I played the game on the following PC
Intel I7 7700K
HP Reverb G2
Graphics & Presentation
Visuals a bit of a let down in some regards there is a lot of work put into the anime girl Haru who you interact with and carry around throughout the whole of the game's runtime she is detailed with good animations and whatnot, however, the world space environments look particularly simple and barren I assume some of this is due to the limitation of being a quest title but the game design is not doing it any favours either with some needlessly large spaces which often highlight the flat geometry and lack of detail.
The game also has very little to interact with outside of the main puzzles and enemies and little need to explore or look around.
I appreciate that the game really tried to develop it world and character but found (possibly due to playing this Japanese game in English) some of the story elements were overbearing at times at a little too many terms are thrown at you too fast and locations shown but then quickly moved on from.
The game has an interesting mechanic in some dialogue with Haru she will ask you questions which you can respond by shaking or nodding your head and a hand-holding mechanic used to travel to the next level and to heal mid-level I found these concepts interesting but they never really led to anything more beyond a few small scenes I would have liked to see this have had greater importance to the story, and possibly with would have been too much but choices that could have had an impact.
Sound FX & Music
I really enjoyed the music in the game it felt thematically appropriate and fitting for the moment.
there are only two voice actors in the game one for Haru and one for the games antagonist, I played the game in English however Japanese is also available as subtitles, personally, I did not want to read subtitles for the duration of the game however the more hardcore subs vs dubs types might want to opt for this. the voice acting is not bad per see however there is a certain stiffness in the dialogue from what I assume is a result of original Japanese not quite translating into English as well as it could.
Gameplay & Immersion
The game has two difficulties Normal and easy. the easy mode can be enabled at any time and from what I understand gives you a shield to tank extra hits. I played the whole experience on normal and personally never found the game challenge hard enough to warrant any extra help.
The game is broken up into 6 chapters with multiple levels in each usually taking between 6-15 minutes with the shorter levels being the early ones and longer levels being later. at the end of each level, an end screen displays your score and secrets found at each part.
Gameplay at its core is a fairly simple puzzles, Haru is attached to a large stone that she cannot move very far from you must move her to shrines to activate things to keep her away from enemies and active elemental puzzle blocks to progress, it's a fairly at your own pace kind of game as most attacks can just be dodged by moving out of the way at normal speed.
The game has these bosses called Kami in game you fight one at the end of each chapter then again fight all of them for the last chapter then two more original bosses, I felt by the end of this that there was a but if a discrepancy between the ration of regular levels to bosses in-game this compounded with the fact that the puzzles really never felt that complex and could almost always be solved quickly upon observing your surroundings.
Controls for WMR were fine no re-binding was needed and was fairly intuitive
I did have a small glitch in which I was unable to determine if it was the game or my own hardware, I will mention it but not fault the game for it in case it's my own fault. I found sometimes when looking around the game world as if almost like my tracking was faulty the world would flit for a split second. It could just be my own hardware but I couldn't reproduce it in another game after some testing.
Value & Replayability
Upon beating the game you are able to then select any level freely and are given a new outfit for haru there is also a third locked outfit I presume for beating the game with the true ending.
so there is some replayability value to those who look for it however personally this is not the kind of replay value I personally like.
the game in my local currency is $45.00 which for the amount and complexity of content is certainly a bit high.
while the game is interesting I found the graphics didn't wow me, I appreciated that effort was put into characters and a story but found the method of letting the story lacked a lot of potential interactivity that had been displayed as possible and don't appreciate locking a good ending behind one-hundred precenting the game.
ultimately the price tag is probably going to be too much for most for this kind of experience really.