If you ever wanted to play a good 2D side-scrolling, beat ‘em up game, then Onikira: Demon Killer is the best one to play. Developed by Digital Furnace Games, Onikira: Demon Killer takes place in a fantasy version of feudal Japan where you play as a samurai trying to defend his home from the demons of the underworld. What stands out most is how the combat system in this game is similar to that of Devil May Cry. Using the same combat system and hardcore gameplay, the game plays much like a 2D version of Devil May Cry, but with a samurai instead of Dante. Fans of Devil May Cry, such as myself. would be very interested in playing this game, as would any hardcore gaming fan.
The story itself is rather simple, but one that works well. A thousand years ago, a warlord killed a dragon and took its soul to enslave the land until a warrior fused with another dragon sent them both to the underworld. For a thousand years, they remained in eternal combat while peace came back to the realm, however the warlord is soon going to be free from his prison and demons are starting to cause chaos. You play as Jiro, the adopted son of a Damiyo who happens to be the last descendant of the hero who saved the land. After fighting off demons, you are allied with a dragon named Ryujin and the two of you quest to master the hidden power in your blood and save the land. There are a few interesting cutscenes, especially with the great art style, but you’ll find yourself not too enraptured by the story. I would not say that it is weak, it’s just that nothing stands out from others that follow a similar pattern.
The first thing that does stands out to the player is the amazing artwork and music score this game has, both of which blend perfectly with one another. The art style is 2D, but animated enough that you sometimes think its 3D. Multiple layers of art work perfectly in unison with each other as you see feudal Japan burning from demon attacks as well as quiet moments when you see the bamboo trees shifting with the wind. It has a very anime-like feel to it; a perfect choice for a game such as this, while also showcasing a classical Japanese art style that looks simply beautiful in the background and during the story cutscenes. I found myself wanting to blow through each level just to see more of the art, but I forced myself to slow down so that I could take the time to fully appreciate the game. The art also finds an added beauty to it within the music and sound effects. The tracks have a very ancient Japanese feel to them, but the best ones are when you are facing danger as the beat will drive your adrenaline up to kick some demon butt, and that’s what has kept me playing this game over and over again.
The character animation flows very well, allowing you to see clearly how each character moves and acts within the game. The demons all have their own unique animation that helps them stand out while allowing your main character, Jiro, to perform his many combos while looking deadly and skilled. What’s also a nice feature of gameplay and art working together is the fact that you can use the environment against your enemies. You can slice off columns to have them crush or knock a demon off an edge and into their doom. Beware, however, as the environment can also kill you with fire, falling rocks, and bottomless pits. Sometimes the art isn’t clear on which hazard is designed to kill you and which is just for the scenery, but these are few and far between, but even so, it keeps you on your toes throughout the game. Just when you think all is lost, you make what you think is a futile move, but you manage to come out on top… it’s very hard to get that feeling, and this game does it wonderfully.
Gameplay is another shining star this game has, thanks to borrowing many elements from the Devil May Cry series. The main character can use his katana to perform combos while also launching enemies into the air and continue to juggle them while slicing them up or sending them back down. Not only is this a clear-cut DMC move from the series, it’s very useful against the various number of enemies you must deal with both on the ground and in the air. A ranking system is on the right side of the screen, that starts from D and goes to SSS, that increases when you deliver more successful attacks and kills, but lowers when you get hit. Your overall rank at the end of each level will be based on how successful you killed your enemies, how many demon souls you took, and how quickly you finished the game. Speed is vital in this game as you need to react and attack fast to not only keep up with your enemies, but also keep up your ranking. Players who like fast and hardcore gameplay, like Devil May Cry, are going to enjoy the combat system. Of course, the enemies aren’t that easy as each is unique and requires certain ways to defeat them. You’ll find yourself dying a few times, but the checkpoint system is fair and you restart with full health each time as well as the demon souls you acquired. I particularly love this style as it allows me to jump right back into the fray with full stats, giving me a better chance to pass that particular enemy.
You won’t just be swinging your katana around though, as there are various combos that can be bought at the shop. It can take some time mastering them, but when you do you’ll find yourself cleaving through enemies as if they were melting butter in a hot summer sun. The katana isn’t your only weapon, as you’ll find kama blades, tetsubo, and naginata to help you on your quest. You can switch between each of them easily, and you can gain combos and moves for them at the shop. In combat, switching between weapons and dealing fast damage to your enemies is the main essence of the game. You’ll find yourself developing fast-paced fighting strategies when your enemies get tougher and increase in number. The good news is that once you gain your dragon friend, Ryujin, you’ll be able to turn defeated enemies into health and demon souls. Later on, you’ll learn how to harness Bushido Power and unleash special attacks tied in to your dragon blood. Combat will be difficult at first, but the controls help smooth the process if you use an Xbox controller. Using a mouse and keyboard is an option too, but it’s much harder and you’ll find yourself changing a few keys to suit your style better. Don’t worry about being frustrated, however, as the game’s checkpoints are close to each other and you’ll find yourself growing used to the game’s combat system over time.
Onikira: Demon Killer may be one of the best side-scrolling games that I’ve played in a long time. It has great gameplay, amazing art and music, a decent story, and only a few bugs here and there. Some players who are not into hardcore like games with high difficulty might not like it, but the checkpoint system helps heal that up. I highly recommend this to Devil May Cry players as well since this does feel like a DMC game, just with samurai and dragons. Because I found little to no flaws in the game, I give it a 9 out of 10.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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