Title: Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed Review -
Release Date: July 20, 2021
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: XSEED Games
Genre: Action Adventure
The Akiba’s Trip series has never been ashamed to bear all. Each entry highlights the obsessiveness of otaku culture while also providing a cast of likable characters through an enjoyable gameloop. However, the west hasn’t officially experienced this entire series, which is what brings us Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed. The game is a remastered port of a PSP title released in 2011, and while it definitely looks the part, there’s still some fun to be had in the streets of Akihabara.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed begins with rumors that vampires are haunting the streets of Akihabara. Our protagonist goes looking for a missing friend, only to find himself in a similar situation. Left for dead, a vampire girl kisses him and turns him into a vampire. This leads him to join a group of Freedom Fighters and an agency to rid the streets of these blood-sucking otaku killers.
The mission isn’t the easiest to explain, but you’re pretty much out to stop these vampires. A few antagonists met throughout the narrative, but I never felt explicitly drawn to “taking them down.” Instead, there’s an underlying mystery as to the ulterior motives of the agency and the desires of the vampire girl who kissed you, which become fully realized after missions.
I will say, Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed has not aged well in terms of menu design and mission layout. Sometimes, you’ll receive an objective without details and are forced to open your cellphone menu and check your to-do list. However, I would have preferred to just see this on the HUD along with other useful information such as your health, maybe?
The only way to take down enemies is to strip them and expose their bodies to the sun. This becomes more complicated throughout the game, but the general idea is to use low, mid, and high attacks to weaken the clothes and then rip them off. Attacks begin as basic combos, but new skills can be learned through purchased books around town. It’s not needed, but it does help when large groups of enemies are beating the crap out of you. The catch is is that you’re also a vampire, so if you lose all of your clothes, then it’s game over.
Clothes in the game are treated in a humorous tone. Not all clothes will be available to rip from the start as some require you to purchase books the detail their weaknesses. It creates a slow drip of enemies and provides reason to farm money and complete side-quests since nothing is cheap in this district. However, fighting becomes a significant issue thanks to a terrible in-game camera.
The entire experience of gameplay is just overly taxing and dull. You’re constantly sent out on missions where you either need to find someone based on a vague description, dress up in a certain way, or find an item. This creates unnecessary back and forth as you simply guess where these stores are. In addition, the entire experience lacks major quality-of-life features such as a way to check the stores in a district from the map, so you don’t have to check every store each time you’re unsure of where an item is.
Other lacking features are options to equip items from inside the areas, forcing you to go back to the map to change. It’s just so needless in execution and makes the entire experience a confusing scavenger hunt through the cities. Not to mention at the top of a chapter when you’re asked to just do side missions, but none are properly laid out for you. Every feature just seems like it’s taking the longest way possible to access it, and after a few hours, you just want it all to stop.
Systems aside, there are plenty of fun things to do around Akihabara that add to the overall novelty of this game. Idols dancing on the street, maid cafes, people asking for money, and other random events. However, even this becomes repetitive after a while when you just want to complete a mission, but some dude keeps asking you for money. If things get really boring for you, there’s a little sister dress-up mini-game that exposes secrets about the clothing, but it’s honestly pretty perverted in execution, provided you have to pay her when you do this.
The greatest parts about Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed are the characters and story. Every scene is voiced that really sells the drama of the situation. There are just some historical character moments here that kept me entertained across each chapter. It blends the mysteries of these vampires with high knowledge of otaku culture to create plenty of enjoyable situations.
Something interesting that happens through gameplay is how you begin to memorize the layout of the different distracts. It may take a few hours, but the random storefronts and mission layout become easier based on the countless times you’ve visited these areas. There’s so much packed in this PSP title that makes you wish it was a remake or a proper sequel. Further, the dated visuals impact the overall experience, but given that this is a PSP game, I can look past it.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed needs to played without any distractions from other games because the second you put it down, you may never care to return to it. Its lack of quality-of-life features solidifies it as a relic of the past, but its writing and characters make it out to be something that fits right in with your group of otaku friends. It’s not an easy game to get through, but its charm is enough to want a true sequel.
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