by Christopher Coke
reviewed on PC
American Mcgee. If you know this name, you probably know at least one of his games. Off-beat titles like Alice, Grimm, and Alice: Madness Returns come to mind; quirky little gems that take classic stories and twist them into darker, disturbing versions of enchanting childhood tales. At this point, we could safely call it Mcgee's calling card. So it should come as no surprise that free-to-play Akaneiro: Demon Hunters follows this trend by taking the Little Red Riding Hood tale and transporting it to ancient Japan. What's more surprising is that this mythos is applied to the classic action-RPG tropes of click-mashing and potion spamming. Players respond to this type of game, but in a world where Diablo 3 flounders and Torchlight 2 fades in the rear view mirror, is simply being free enough?
Before beginning the game proper, players must create a character. Customization is incredibly limited and only allows the choice of gender and specialty. Of these, you may focus in Prowess, Fortitude, or Cunning. These specialize in Area of Effect attacks (AOE), defense, and evasion respectively, but abilities from any tree can be purchased as you progress through the game. Level-up bonuses to certain stats can also be chosen by the player. This allows users to really craft a class that fits their playstyle. No matter what you choose, you will still be left-clicking to attack, right-clicking to cast, and mashing several other binds for abilities. Its mechanical roots to Diablo are proudly worn on its sleeve.
The game is immediately familiar to anyone who has played an action-RPG. Players come upon a central town where they can buy and sell goods, collect quests, and buy buffs to experience, magic find, and HP regeneration. Players can also use the game's universal currency, Karma, to unlock new abilities and explorable regions. Karma also restores health points, so virtually every mob and broken crate will yield some. There are no health potions in the game, so strategically killing monsters becomes important when facing off against bosses.
Akaneiro: Demon Hunters is not a pay-to-win game. Instead, everything can be purchased using this single currency. You can, if you choose, purchase more for real money, but it's not necessary if you're careful not to overspend. It's easy to do. While quests reward a small amount of Karma, and you'll pick up much more in the wild, vendor prices range from deceptively cheap to prohibitively expensive for enchanted items. And the sale prices for your goods, while not unfair, are balanced so you will need to run missions multiple times if you'd like to do more than open up new zones.
Out and About
After taking a quest, you leave town and are teleported to the objective area. While quest givers provide backstory for your efforts, traveling through each zone also uncovers clues that your character will respond to with speech bubbles. I found these helpful as the story can be confusing at times. Story is only a small element of the experience, however.
Combat is satisfying but lacks polish. Animations are sometimes stiff and lack flair compared to other games of the type. There is an array of purchasable abilities, however, which players can chain to their choice and to devastating effect. Allowing players to purchase abilities from any specialty was really an excellent choice that opens up a wealth of possibilities the further you progress.
Good free-to-play model, not pay to win, open classes, fun combat
Lacks some polish, needs better co-op, muddy visuals