Akiba’s Beat is a mix of running around the city of Akiba to the next location and mediocre combat that feels sluggish. It feels like a fossil in this day and age. The story presents an interesting (and educational) look into Japanese culture and has some funny lines here and there, but it lacks the Persona and depth of greater JRPGs it is inspired by.
The idea of the game is to find dimensions that are created by peoples’ delusions or dreams of what they want Akiba or themselves to be like. These dimensions are revealed when you find the origin of the delusion. It’s similar to Persona. You find out what is going on, go to an alternate dimension without the person knowing (most of the time), and then taking out the baddie to make everything better. However, what Akiba’s Beat fails at and Persona succeeds, is the story progression. This story’s pacing is slooooooowwwww. Atlus are able to make the mystery engaging and have deeper themes that you can dive into; they make each villain or situation you face in the real world someone or something you really want to stop. In Akiba’s Beat, you run to the same spot over and over again, talking to the same characters, and are faced with more generic dilemmas. Half of the game is like this. With one part of the story, you are trying to figure out who has an obsession with idols in Akiba and day after day after day after day, you will have to hear the same dialogue from the same people in the same spot. It’s so boring and long drawn out.
Thankfully, Akiba’s Beat manages to have an engaging cast of characters that have funny banter between each other. The narrative doesn’t make sense, but that’s part of the fun. While the Persona series focuses more on a realistic take, Akiba’s Beat is more on the playful side. It makes fun of the ridiculousness of the situation that our main hero (or incredibly lazy NEET) Asahi Tachibana, is in. For those who are into cheesy Japanese RPG writing, this is fantastic. Instances like Asahi imitating others or the characters making fun of each other is when the game is fun to play. Something refreshing in the JRPG genre that this game brings to the table is that it’s set in modern Japan in the Akihabara district. It gives a taste of the culture surrounding the city, like maid cafes and idols. It’s likely fabricated to a degree but it’s a fun avenue to explore within a well-visited genre.
The voice acting is well done (for the most part). They maintain the comical vibe of the game and manage to deliver the punchlines of the characters’ jokes. The voiceover for the side characters can be hit or miss, but whenever there’s a character that is creepy, they sure perform it well (maybe too well).
RPG’s take a long time to complete and what make them arduously longer in most Japanese RPG’s are annoying mascot characters. Seriously, why is this such a trend and why do we have to include these infuriatingly high pitched monsters? Over and over again, Pinkun says the same lines that are aggravating, to begin with. Whenever you find treasure, you hear the squealing pincushion exclaim, “I smell treasure! FIND IT! FIND IT! FIND IT!” and a few other lines of dialogue. Whenever you go to a save point, he says the same lines of annoying dialogue. Whenever you go to a door, he says the same lines. Whenever you go to a store, he says the same lines. You get the gist. If you want to find a way to torture someone, this is probably a good tactic. Can you please add a way to shut up Pinkun? Please, XSEED…there has to be a way…
— Chris Penwell (@PenwellWrites) May 20, 2017
— Chris Penwell (@PenwellWrites) May 20, 2017
Akiba’s Beat is a Tale of repetitive combat and sluggish design. It heavily takes the Tales of combat formula and makes it far less inspired. Enemies rarely flinch at your attacks, combos are harder to connect, and special moves look cheap. In addition, it takes all the negatives of the Tales of games and doesn’t improve on any of them. Characters shout the same phrase over and over again, the audio design is a complete mess as abrasive sound effects beat down your eardrums, and the combat just like the Tales of games is repetitious. Oh and if that’s not enough, you don’t escape the wrath of Pinkun during combat as he gives you slack or words of “encouragement.”
There is no involved skill tree or unique leveling system (other than trading cards that can boost your stats) and battles are a chore to plow through as enemies (even bosses) are incredibly easy. The combat feels just like an after thought to the somewhat interesting story and it feels incredibly dated just like the series it is inspired by.
Being released on the PS4, Vita, and PS3, it’s understandable that this game has dated visuals. It is heavily reusing Akiba’s Trip‘s environmental models and placing a new game within it. Unfortunately, unlike what I mentioned in my Akiba’s Trip review, Akiba’s Beat does not give that sense of immersion within Akiba. You can’t hear the sounds of the busy streets or the advertisements. It feels lifeless. Characters in the city aren’t even detailed and are outlined in basic colors. Character models look PS2 quality with flat expressions and as previously mentioned, the combat doesn’t feel responsive as enemies don’t flinch. Delusionscapes (dungeons) are dull corridors gameplay wise but have some interesting art design within them from the theme they are attached to.
Akiba’s Beat is a bland mesh of repetitive gameplay full of dull combat and running around the city, which is complimented by a slowly paced narrative. The funny writing between the characters and the great voice acting to accompany it (minus Pinkun, which is a fault of the character, not the voice actress) does not save it from being a chore of a game to play through.
A PS4 code of Akiba’s Beat was provided by XSEED Games for the purpose of this review.