Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed Preview – Baring All
The Akiba’s Trip series is one of high-regard in some otaku circles. The themes parody our love for anime, figures, and word choice only to make us feel subtly cool that we understand the nuances of the dialogue. On top of this, you have a plot where vampires are feeding off these desires and walking amongst us. The only choice we have is to fight back and strip them in daylight to bring them to their doom.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed happens to be a PSP title that was never released in the west. From the first moments of gameplay, you’ll see that this is not a game from this era. The graphics, although remastered, aren’t the prettiest, but there’s still some character here. The game may have pushed what was capable of the PSP hardware, but you’ll be hard-pressed to see that show up in this remastered effort.
The dated camera angles, slow controller response time, and simplified environment design will constantly remind you that you’re playing an old game. However, something so charming about this experience is reminiscent of a strange arcade game from the 90s. The polygon characters that roam the streets each have a personality as you interact with them and fight off the vampire threat. The fun you have during fights is mirrored by ageless character banter that feels like it was written for this generation. I should preface that this all comes with knowing that this release is mainly for fans of the series which were never able to experience this release. Assuming this is a sequel to Undead & Undressed should be shelved with hopes that this only shows Acquire that a new entry in the series is wanted.
Through gameplay, players take on missions that require them to rid the streets of Akihabara of vampire-like enemies. While the ways to do this vary, you must take your camera to snap a photo of a group of people; if someone doesn’t show up, they are the enemy. Combat takes the form of high, mid, and low attacks. Depending on what the enemy is wearing, you’ll need to strip them of their clothing and let the sunlight do the job. However, they can strip your clothing as well, which results in a game over.
While combat is a significant part of gameplay, there’s a lot to do in the form of mini-games and simply interacting with the people on the street. There are dozens of stores that sell weapons and items that make encounters easier and just as zany. It’s these interactions that will mostly keep you playing. Still, I wish there was a way to run faster or equip items without leaving the area first to access the menu from the map screen. The limited graphics only spotlight some of these lacking quality-of-life issues that should have been refined for this release. I also found the numerous loading screens to be a bit much, and the camera is constantly fighting against you when you’re trying to fight an enemy. It gets worse when a group of people begins fighting you, even though you only want one of them.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is the missing entry to the series in the west. It will look great on your shelf next to Undead & Undressed, but it’s definitely a product of its time. I’m enjoying the narrative and the character writing, but there’s a target demographic for this game, and you probably already know if that’s you or not.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is coming to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch on July 20, 2021.
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