Otogi: Myth of Demons

Review

posted 9/19/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
Starting about a month ago I began receiving postcards from SEGA advertising a new game called Otogi. Little information was to be found on these post cards, just that the game revolved around death and Japanese mythology. A few weeks after I received a few roll-up posters that shed more light on the game. I wasn’t too thoroughly excited yet but I appreciated that SEGA was fully behind one of its lesser known products. Then last week, a review copy of Otogi showed up in my mailbox, now I know what all the hoopla was about. For years PS2 owners had shoved copies of Devil May Cry into the faces of their Xbox-loving friends. For years they teased them, laughed at them and ridiculed them with what turned out to be one of the best 3rd person slashers of all-time. That moment stops now, Otogi is not only every bit as good as Devil May Cry, it’s better than it. Some may even call it the Devil May Cry killer, it’s that damn good.

I don’t blame you if you don’t know what all the hoopla is about; it’s received very little play in the media in general. It’s not a fault of SEGA’s PR staff though, they practically shoved it down our throats and begged us to cover it, blame us, the media, for all of our stubbornness and laziness. Now it’s a time to recoup and make amends. Basically Otogi follows the story of Riakoh, feudal Japan’s version of the grim reaper. He’s sent out into the field whenever a spirit needs “cleansing” or help passing on to the next life. This is when you come in, assuming the role of Raikoh, you venture out to do some major cleansing, with extreme prejudice I might add.

What’s nice about Otogi is that it has a fairly violent theme but it doesn’t resort to sheer violence to lure people in. There’s little or no blood to be found and the graphic depictions are kept to a minimum. It chooses to rely on solid gameplay and addictive fighting elements to draw you in and keep you secured to your seat. Sure the core gameplay revolves around repetitive button mashing, but there’s enough action and eye-candy sprinkled about to keep you mesmerized and entertained for hours.

It’s deceivingly easy as well; the first few levels will lull gamers into the false sense of security only to throw them into a wall during the first boss battle. Otogi definitely isn’t for the faint of heart and be forewarned, you will fail and you will have to retry many levels over and over again. If you’re a fan of old-school platformers then this is definitely a good thing, especially because the levels are so unique and varied. Surely, most of them revolve around traveling across the landscape while punishing anything that moves. But there’s enough beautiful imagery and intense action to keep you gripped to your seat.

Unlike most of today’s brawlers the levels don’t feel like an excuse to fight a boss. Each level feels unique and acts like its own entity as opposed to some fodder before the boss battle. The levels all have a personality of their own, from jumping puzzles across rock ledges to feudal Japan-style houses that need to be demolished, each level is unique and better than the previous. Best of all they’re rather large as well and while some of the earlier ones feel eerily empty the levels definitely become better as the game progresses.
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