Kicking ass, stripping enemies, exploring Akihabara and helping citizens; you’re the king of the otaku, and this is your playground – so when someone or something appears to threaten it, it’s up to you to take a stand.
But is this really your stand to take? Let me paint you a picture, as this one’s definitely not a “one size fits all” adventure.
The story begins like this; you awaken strapped to a table, a strange man standing over you asking questions. You can’t remember what’s going on, but with some prodding and a bit of playing along the man standing over you explains that you’ve apparently signed your life away. Through an advertisement for a job, they’ve lured you into a contract which allows them to turn you into something inhuman – and the transformation is already pretty much complete. The last part of this change (and the contract) however, involves you feeding on the energy of random people in Akihabara.
This kind of thing doesn’t sit well with you at all, and while you’re busy conversing with your captors (trying to negotiate your release from captivity, and the release of your very otaku-esque payment of a rare figurine), a mysterious girl busts in and helps to free you – the pair of you fending off the enemy and escaping into the night.
This strange girl reiterates that you are indeed a newly turned “Synthister” (their word for “energy sucking vampire-like humanoid” apparently), and that you must forge a blood contract with her in order to save your life. Sealing the contract with a kiss, your character is both saved and has just forged his first real relationship bond in the game – something we’ll get further into later as it’s an important part of the “journey” so to speak.
Speaking of the journey, it tends to consist of a lot of stripping – which you’ll be doing either by literally beating the clothes off your enemy or using the strip quicktime events. You’ll have to fight whoever gets in your way in an attempt to save Tokyo’s technology district and your friends at MOGRA (a local game bar) from the imminent threat of weirdoes, mysterious authority figures and energy sucking vampire-eqsue mutants.
While the game focuses on getting the clothes off someone, the quickest way to accomplish this is through a powerful weapon. Weapons can either be bought at one of the over 100 in-game stores throughout virtual Akihabara, or taken off enemies you’ve defeated – giving you plenty of options to up your arsenal.
From what I can tell, types of weapons available to you come in four categories; wearables (such as boxing gloves), blunt instruments (such as bats), heavy items (such as a computer monitor) and realistic weapons (such as swords). Upgrading these weapons can be accomplished by getting your character’s sister to combine them with weapons of the same type, which will increase their durability and strength. This added strength will allow you to better knock some sense into your enemy without worry of breakage or long, drawn out battles.
Other than weapons, you can also change other things about your character which are cosmetic in nature but also can relate to durability/defense against the sun (you are a Synthister, after all). Different cosmetic items you can change include headwear, shirts, pants, shoes, accessories, fighting style, walking style and underwear. Each one will have its own durability rating, however only your headwear, shirt and pants need to be ripped off for you to be exposed enough to the sunlight to “die”. As with the weapons, clothes can be bought at any of the many shops which sell them throughout Akihabara, or alternatively stripped from enemies and taken as “prizes”.
With regards to gameplay, there’s another area which we’ve mentioned and I still need to touch on – the relationship element. The game is split into what appears to be five endings, with one for each of the female characters you can get close to. This means that whichever character you get the closest to (according to the initially hidden relationship choices), you’ll end up with their version of the game’s ending – giving us a reason to replay the game other than simply to clean up trophies or go all “OP” on your foes with those new game+ carry-over items and skills.
The last area of gameplay that’s worth mentioning isn’t so much gameplay as it is a menu – it’s your smart phone, and the apps on it which act as your pause screen. Your smart phone contains apps for keeping track of your status, changing equipment, using items, viewing tutorials, tracking challenges, viewing records, looking up game terms, accepting side missions and more. Apps like “email” and “pitter” are there to offer both comedic relief as well as letting you know about happenings around the town, while other apps like “camera” are useful in-game to find enemies on the street and identify items you’d like to strip from them.
The controls of the game are fairly simple, though they cause a few small issues in the way they’re set up. An example of this is the way that the analog sticks are weighted to move the camera, which makes it hard to run in a straight path while dodging pedestrians since a slight move of the analog is apparently paramount to a right turn.
During free-roam (no conflict), triangle activates the mission marker, circle is cancel and “x” is accept/talk/action. During a conflict the triangle, circle and “x” buttons are instead assigned to head, torso and leg attacks respectively. Holding any of the attack buttons will cause you to grab for the person’s respective clothing locations, and if their clothes have enough damage to them, to attempt ripping them off.
If their clothes aren’t flashing but do have some damage to them, a button-mashing mini game ensues in which you must try and get the gauge to zero through presses. Manage to do so in the time given and you’ll tear off their clothes – otherwise you’ll be pushed away. A successful clothing removal will trigger a quick time event of sorts however, and if there’s other clothes that can be torn off a button indicator (triangle, circle or “X”) will pop up and allow you to execute chained clothing removal. These chained removals either last until you run out of damaged clothes to tear off – which initiates a “strip finisher” – or miss a QTE, at which point regular battle resumes.
Aside from the previously mentioned buttons, square is always set to jump, the left shoulder button puts you in and out of your fighting stance (as well as resetting durability by straightening your clothes) and the right trigger aids in counter attacks when paired with a mirrored attack attempt. Start will access your phone and select will bring up the map for quick travel. As for the D-Pad, it’s used to access different quick select menus depending on the situation or to give orders to your partner during a fight.
Graphically, Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed looks pretty good for a Vita title, but it does this through a few rather obvious concessions. The draw distance isn’t very far with regards people (they appear as a shadow at a medium distance before coming into view as you approach), the textures on some of the stores are very paper-y (they have no depth), and it doesn’t appear to be native resolution (at least in the 3D game world bits). That said, it does a decent job of keeping a stable frame rate outside of areas with a ridiculous amount of enemies on screen and the animation bits look fantastic. The 3D models also do a good job of actually resembling like their anime counterparts; something most other games tend to fail horribly at.
The sound options we’ve been given in this release are (in my opinion) what any localized game should get; full, decent quality Japanese and English audio tracks. As a bonus, they’re both included in the main game – which even as a digital title is only a middle-of-the-road 2600MB in size.
As for the music of Akiba’s Trip, it fits the game (and my personal preferences) perfectly – so you’ll excuse me if I swoon a little. The techno/house/dance music they use for the battle scenes was a perfect mood setter for some action and the different localized sounds of the city (ie; at MOGRA) were always a welcome change as I moved from area to area and mission to mission. I really wouldn’t change a thing about the audio, which is as good as it gets in my opinion.
With regards to length and replayability, that actually depends on what type of gamer you are. While the game is technically “beatable” in three hours, that’s doing the bare minimum to get to the end of the story on the easiest mode and is far from getting the complete experience. As previously mentioned, the game contains five different endings, various difficulties, and a slew of side missions to complete – but it also contains a full recreation of Akihabara with over one-hundred-and-thirty shops to explore and an augmented reality feature for inserting the game’s heroines into real life situations. A completionist like me will easily spend upwards of thirty hours on this one, but the same may not be said for you.
So, we’ve come to the conclusion – and here’s where you’re going to want to read carefully; this is a fun game if you can handle the culture and themes behind it. Akiba’s Trip is filled with the things an otaku loves; strange plots, fanservice, Japanese culture/references and a great location (in this case an accurate recreation of Akihabara – Tokyo’s technology district). That said, it may (and probably will) offend those who aren’t used to those things, as they’re somewhat of an acquired taste.
For me however, the game is an escape to a cool location I’d likely never otherwise visit – with some fun (but not overly complex) gameplay to compliment this “vacation”. Undead & Undressed isn’t meant to be deep and if you take it as the surface encounter it is, it can be quite enjoyable; but if you’re looking for something deeper or less riddled with “weird Japanese stuff”, you’re about to get stripped of forty bucks.