A young man and a beautiful girl speed through the busy streets of Akihabara. The duo duck and dodge in and out of back alleys as the people they pass by holler words of encouragement. They’re being chased. Hunted, but not for long.
They find the perfect battlefield: Somewhere not as populated as the main streets. Somewhere they can let loose. Somewhere they can fight without holding back. Somewhere they can strip to their hearts content. They call themselves the Akiba Freedom Fighters and the ones they battle, they’re an army of superhuman beings called Synthisters that have neatly woven themselves throughout mainstream Akihabara society and they need to be taken down. Now.
In ‘Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed’ you play as, well…you. You’re the main character and, after applying for a dodgy-sounding job, you wake up to find that you’re no longer the same person you once were. Attacked by the people who imprisoned you, you’re saved by a young girl who seems to know of your situation.
She saves you and explains that you’re now something called a Synthister, who are the same people you just so happen to be now fighting against. Synthisters are energy-sucking, humanoid creatures who are weak to direct sunlight. They slowly but surely began enveloping the town and now it’s up to you and your rag-tag group of teenage friends to take them down one by one.
There’s really only one way to beat the Synthisters: By stripping them to their unmentionables. Doing so will allow for the sun’s deadly rays to sink into their bodies, killing them from the inside out. The problem is…the same can happen to you! You train, you fight, you investigate and you do all you can to rid Akihabara of this infestation before it’s too late. ‘Undead and Undressed’ plays host to an interesting but ultimately silly story that’s written in a way to make players laugh rather than have them impressed about how innovative and interesting it is. Each and every single one of the characters represent tropes that Anime lovers have been seeing for years and will continue to see until the end of time. Once again, the impression the game gives off is that these characters are MEANT to be one dimensional and nonsensical rather than interesting and likable.
Amazingly, the ‘Undead and Undressed’ allows certain characters a chance to delve deeper into their own psyche so as to let us see just how deep and well-written they are. It also helps that these characters are self referential to the finest details. The greatest character in ‘Undead and Undressed’ is the town, Akihabara, itself. The citizens that wander the streets, the keyboard warriors that troll the social networking sites, those asking the Freedom Fighters for help. They all make up one big personality and not once while playing the game did I find myself getting sick of it. Unfortunately the tongue-in-cheek nature of ‘Undead and Undressed’ sometimes worked against it with some of the characters being TOO much like their respective tropes and some story aspects being far too under-thought for their own good. You quickly forget about those little things thanks to just how funny some of the dialogue can be.
I will somewhat agree with other critics who say that the combat system is a little ‘less than desired’. It can sometimes be clunky and, depending on what weapon you have equipped, movesets can be very difficult to use with attacks often never hitting due to sensitive proximity issues. There are often times when button commands simply do not execute and it can mean the difference between winning a bout and losing a bout. ‘Undead and Undressed’ plays quite simplistically: Essentially you and your enemies have two to three health bars depending on how much clothing you’re wearing. The head, the chest and the legs can be targeted and stripped.
The way to beat those opposing you is to whittle down their individual clothing items and then stripping them off one by one. Fighting properly will allow you to enter quicktime events wherein which you’ll be able to strip multiple items one after the other, leaving the enemies dazed, confused and frankly…embarrassed. There are a whole bunch of different clothing items and weapons that are purchasable or findable, giving an overall RPG feel to a game that seems strictly action. You’ll be doing a great deal of button mashing in ‘Undead and Undressed’ and, if I’m to be brutally honest, it takes no skill whatsoever to be good at the game so long as you have better items than your enemy.
There are two types of quest in ‘Undead and Undressed’: The main missions and the side missions which usually consist of finding something or fighting someone or taking pictures of something. What’s funny about this is that these mission types sound tedious and boring but they actually prove to be quite fun. They don’t take too long to complete and the game usually only sends four or five at you between story missions so getting through them before moving on isn’t that hard. Even better is that they’re side missions so if you don’t feel like doing them…you don’t have to. Doing them, though, will force you to experience the town in different way and ultimately enjoy the game so much more. Not to mention the crazy characters you’ll be running into along the way. It’s well worth it.
Unfortunately these missions become hard to complete when the characters related to them took more time to load than the models that populate the areas. That wouldn’t be so bad if it happened occasionally but it seems to happen every single time. I often found myself standing in one place waiting for them to appear after the game had already ‘loaded’. What makes this even worse is that sometimes the models didn’t even appear at all, leading me to head online for some sort of mission support where all I read was more complaints about the exact same thing. There’s a specific string of missions where these characters never appeared and it drove me up the wall because of just how close I was to completing the mission and moving on. Yes, you can easily just forget about the mission but the completion freak inside of me wouldn’t let go.
Graphically ‘Undead and Undressed’ is massively lacking. Character models look cheap and stiff but the way they move is so much more fluid than imagined. Clearly the development team haven’t fully utilized the graphics capabilities of the PlayStation Vita, the console I reviewed this on. I’ve seen many other older Vita titles that blow this one out of the water aesthetically so I couldn’t help but want more out of what I was seeing. What makes up for the substandard character models is the environment you’re surrounded by throughout. From what I can gather, ‘Undead and Undressed’ does a brilliant job at properly mirroring the true Akihabara.
Going so far as to have actual billboards and advertisements scattered throughout. It doesn’t feel like a cash grab at all though, it simply feels…authentic. The lighting is dynamic and the camera feature allows you to appreciate the sights properly without that pesky HUD. The game doesn’t really feature any cutscenes, there are no spikes in graphical quality and most of what you see are still images of characters that pop up above dialogue boxes so, for the most part, the aesthetics of the game are pretty uninspiring but there are little gems that help you appreciate what you’re a part of.
Every main piece of dialogue is spoken which means the important cast characters each have their own voice actors and actresses who provide their talents to the role. There are really only two or three characters who have good enough dialogue for an actor or actress to truly show just how great they are at their career of choice, the others though, well…they’re kind of lackluster performances to say the very least. Thankfully the game has a great, contemporary soundtrack populated by the new-age sounds of electric instruments.
Each track, though not that many of them, is composed wonderfully to perfectly fit the technological vibes of Akihabara. Now I would have liked for the game to feature more than just five or so tracks but, once again, it is saved by something I feel as though not a lot of other games can do properly; environmental sound effects. Walking the streets, all you hear is the hustling and bustling of a highly populated city. People yelling out to each other, music from giant TV screens playing advertisements, cars honking, birds chirping, everything. This helps to engulf the player entirely, making it one of the more immersive games around.
There’s a great deal to look down upon within the game but all you have to do to enjoy it is to turn a blind eye to the stuff that you don’t like because, despite all that, there’s still a great deal of good to be sought after and found. Put simply; ‘Undead and Undressed’ is charming and funny but let down by certain specific gameplay mechanics and visual challenges. If you can get over that than maybe ‘Undead and Undressed’ is the game for you but I can see many people out there not even giving it a chance because of the way it looks.
It’s a perfect game for those of you like myself who consider themselves pseudo-Japanese citizens, who love the culture, who love the people and who live the cities. It’s made for the hardcore Otaku in all of us, all you have to do is reach deep down inside and pull him or her out. Despite what bad I’ve said about this game, I’ve been playing it right before bed every night and just after I wake up every morning. To say the least; I’m addicted. ‘Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed’ feels like a game I loved back in my high school days that I’ve recently found and started playing again. There’s something lovely about it, you just have to find it amidst all the grit.