Akiba's Beat Review -- Just A Fun Beat
It would be easy to merely mention a game's shortcomings in a review. However, that would ultimately be a disservice to JRPG fans looking for a quirky gaming experience in Akiba's Beat. There really isn't anything on the market quite like it for the PlayStation 4, so here's what we thought of the game.
Published by Xseed Games, the game stars Asahi Tachibana, an unassuming young resident of Akihabara. Our hero is a neet: a young person who is not in education, employment, and/or training. He's sort of on a permanent vacation...with no money. After a chance encounter, he and others relive Sunday continuously. At the same time, mysterious circumstances cause people's desires, dreams, and delusions to become real and endanger reality. Thus our unlikely hero and friends task themselves with saving Akihabara.
Beat: A Strong Rhythm
After playing my fair share of JRPGs, I can say that Akiba's Beat's gameplay is quite modern. The game is fully aware and respects the player's time. Essentially, it plays on two fronts. On one hand, you spend time exploring the city for clues, advancing the plot, and side quests. The other side of the game is dungeon exploration.
In both instances, saves aren't very far away from each other and the game reminds you to save often. You have the ability to make some noticeable progress and resume at your own pace. Even in 2017, not many games can claim this and I'm glad Akiba's Beat does.
Now with the dungeon exploration, you also take part in battle. So how is battle in this game you ask? Battle is in realtime and takes place in a confined space. You can run, jump, and attack on a basic level. You also have the ability to assign battle tactics to your AI controlled party members. You can tailor you party to play a certain way so you can remain focused only on yourself. Battle also depends upon the level of your offense. You have a special gauge that fills as you attack foes. When the gauge fills to 100, you and your party become dangerous.
While in this trance like state (glowing eyes and everything!) you gain bonuses as you increase your combo number. For example, you can gain percentage boosts in attack power. Ashai and comrades are also able to attack continuously. If necessary, you can exhaust your special meter to unleash massive damage. As a player, you'll be full of glee to see you and the party conquer with overwhelming force.
At its core, the game doesn't take itself seriously and proudly displays its quirkiness. When you play the game it feels like a sitcom. Party members often poke fun at each other because the opportunity merely presents itself. At its core they're kids being kids in the midst of some weird otherworldly goings on.
The light mood also applies to the game world. The city, NPCs, the culture, the craziness...nothing is safe from a good joke. That spirit of humor is consistent from start to finish. The humor is arguably at its best when the characters are targeting themselves. Honestly its refreshing because JRPGs can be very serious and this is very welcomed.
Follow the beat...
One aspect of the game that shouldn't be overlooked is its aesthetics. The art design, color, and music all mesh very well. Speaking as an audiophile, I can say that the soundtrack to this game is pretty impressive. Tracks range from rock, jazz fusion, electronica and much more. I found myself standing idly by to enjoy the songs played during dungeon themes and enemy encounters.
Going hand in hand with the music are the vivid visuals. Much like the actually Akihabara, the game is drenched in color. NPCs pepper environments with the brightest shades of the color spectrum. The city areas and dungeons display their various themes confidently alongside the urban theme. To take it one step further, the characters and monsters also mesh well. Yes, you have a characters in urban wear fighting fantasy creatures, but nothing stands out so much that it doesn't fit. Not many games can pull that off for a number of reasons and Akiba's Beat does it well.
Let's Beat This
If you were to me ask does this game present or offer the best of JRPGs on the market? Honestly, no it doesn't. There are a number of games that look much better, play a lot smoother, and have better plots. Ultimately, it would be very easy to label Akiba's Beat as an average game. However when you dig in the game has enough charm and a unique set of aesthetics to keep you engaged. You'll laugh with characters, save the day, and do it all while listening to fun beats.
JRPG fans can purchase Akiba's Beat today at both retail and PlayStation Network.
Note: Review code was provided by publisher