Akiba’s Beat is an action RPG in a series that was known for its wacky social antics and gameplay mechanics. It is the first game in the series to focus on RPG mechanics and unfortunately in this process, it has managed to lose the original spirit of what made it so fun.
The game is a spiritual sequel to the first two Akiba’s Trip game. While the second game was localized by XSEED, the first game never made its way to the West. Although it doesn’t matter much for Akiba’s Beat because the story is hardly related to the previous games to matter here. Even the gameplay is completely different here with a more focused take on action RPG genre taking inspirations from games like Persona and Tales of series.
The story takes place in the popular Akihabara district which is a real-life location in Japan. It is focused on the main protagonist Asahi Tachibana who decides to drop out of college to live his life at home. He is referred in the game as a NEET, a social acronym that is used for those who are ‘Not in Education, Employment, or Training.’ This is something that is also mocked in the game by colleagues and friends of the main protagonist. One day, Asahi stumbles into a strange dimension known as the Delusionscape. This is basically a twisted psychic of a mind that bears similarity to the dungeons of Persona 5 but purely in concept. The way the idea is executed here is a little different.
The discovery of the Delusionscape leads to Asahi getting stuck in a groundhog day sequence where every day is the same but with a different delusion cropping up based on the personalities of the people that are roaming around in the Akhibara district. It is up to Asahi along with his friends to solve the mystery of these Delusions and get himself out of the groundhog day situation.
Akiba’s Beat is backed by a fantastic localization so even though the story in itself is nothing special, the localization more than makes up for it with some neat references and throwbacks. It basically encapsulates all the known tropes referenced by the games but allows its own humor and writing to make them shine and stand out on their own. Even though it is hard to shrug the similarities here to other games, Akiba’s Beat carries its own weight and should be considered stand out from others.
Each of the delusions in the game are presented in the form of boring linear dungeons. These tend to get repetitive quickly and honestly speaking, it is always hard to create an exciting dungeon in such games, even the earlier Persona games have been a culprit of this design with the repetitive structure of dungeons. Nonetheless, the dungeons lack any excitement of exploration and merely serve as a portal to offer combat and boss battles while advancing the story. You can ambush an enemy in the dungeon by attacking them which leads to a battle screen. It is similar to how the combat works in Tales of series, right down to the actual mechanics that are integrated in combat with dodging and chains being utilized to inflict damage on the enemy.
So far, it sounds like a mixture of Persona in term of the way the story, exploration and dungeons are set, with the combat from Tales of series. This is a pretty accurate summary to be honest and it is something that works here but often feels like a cheap budget knock-off considering Persona 5 and Tales of Berseria were just released. It is hard to not draw comparison to these games. The biggest disappointment is the exploration where the world map feels large at first but it has a complete lack of NPCs with most of them simply represented as shadows with random text being passed as a conversation. To top it, there are loading screens when travelling from one location to the next, which can end up annoying at times even on the PS4.
The combat system allows multiple party members each of which can perform a chain of attacks along with a special attack. These are all limited by the amount of moves a character can manage at a time and these moves are replenished after a small amount of time, leaving you to determine the exact time to utilize it. Dodging comes in handy during boss fights although you can simply button mash your way to victory because the game isn’t really that hard on the normal difficulty settings. It is not a complex combat system by any means and it works well enough for most of the fights, although the lock-on mechanic can take a while to get used to since your character will automatically target a random enemy at the start of the battle and changing to a different target is a little tricky at first.
Akiba’s Beat is not a bad looking game and it has a great art style backing it up with visuals that look clean on the PS4. It it just hard to shake the feeling that the game doesn’t offer anything new and instead tries to retread the footsteps of other successful RPGs. It is also a new game in the Akiba series but despite that, it never sticks to its roots and attempts to tackle a different genre altogether leading to some disappointment from those who expected more of the same.
Akiba’s Beat Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Akiba's Beat is an action role-playing video game for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 video game consoles.
Akiba's Beat stirs too far away from the mechanics that made the first game so fun, resulting in a sequel that is merely a shell of its former self. It is a not a bad action RPG if you can ignore its connection to the past games.