Title: Ogre Tale
Release Date: August 20, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Beat 'Em Up
When you first boot up a game such as Ogre Tale, I don’t think anything could prepare you for what you are about to experience. At face value, it looks to be a straightforward beat ’em up with adorable anime characters. However, like developer Mages’ Phantom Breaker, which shares similar systems, Ogre Tale‘s characters carry this adventure on their backs, and you’re going to want to play for their antics.
Ogre Tale’s story is an experience through quick and witty dialogue shared between the three main characters, Ran, Hana, and Yume, along with their cat, Iroha, who happens to be the reincarnation of a powerful ogre with the three girls being descendants. Now, I could sit here and explain the story, but I don’t think I’d do it justice.
Basically, these three ogre girls are sent out to fight this power deity named Momotaro. Also, there’s a bunch of yokai threatening Japan, which needs to be dealt with. Now that the premise is set up, the fun can begin. The personalities of the main characters are brilliant. They constantly riff off one another with witty remarks and comebacks. Their references are spot-on as they break the fourth wall multiple times in dialogue. The story does become a rather large epic, but it nails delivery during each character interaction.
I found myself playing for these moments of interaction alone. That’s not to say that the other systems within the game are lacking, but I was totally invested in this zany and random role out of exposition. For example, there was one time where a scene was going on for too long, but right when I thought that, one of the characters mentioned that they were talking too much and probably boring the player. That was it for me. I knew I had to read every line of text within this game.
Ogre Tale allows you to play as one of the three characters through various beat ’em stages. The beat ’em up offerings end up being pretty shallow at first, with some missions lasting less than 2 minutes. Further, the simple attack animation, as adorable as it is, gets pretty old the more you spam it. Sadly, the systems don’t become much more complicated, but you do unlock special moves later on.
The overall control within the game is a bit hit or miss. When using a controller, sometimes button presses felt unresponsive, which mostly stems from the run action that seems to keep going even when you stopped running. Direction and stance do play a role in your attack animation, but it does take some time to understand how to execute the specific combo you want. Also, I wouldn’t say I liked that jump was tied to the up button and couldn’t be switched to a face button. Still, after a few hours, you do become used to the button layout, but it does take some time.
Ogre Tale begs you to replay missions as many times as you can to unlock more abilities and further customize your character. To help with this, some sub-missions simply have you find an item or beat several yokai. These are simple in concept, but if you’re trying to unlock skills, you’ll appreciate the repetitive structure of these extra missions.
Main missions do have some variety outside of running in one direction and fighting everything. Also, exploration within the level can lead to mini-bosses and tougher enemies, which rewards you with more substantial items. It happens to be enough to break up the repetition of simply mashing an attack button for the entirety of the mission.
Each character plays a little differently and is tied to their own experience level. Completing missions rewards with EXP along with new weapons and talismans. The customize is pretty impressive here as players can equip talisman to personalize their weapons with passive abilities. There’s a large variety of items to collect, too, so I was always trying to figure out the best equipment combinations.
One thing that I felt slowed things down is the fighting itself. Sometimes enemies just wouldn’t spawn or would chill above the screen. This ends up bringing the game to a halt multiple times since you have to clear each section before you can move on. Also, you can’t progress unless you collect items, which I felt was overkill, I would have preferred just missing out on the item than having to run to the other side of the map just pick up health that I didn’t need.
Another issue I encountered is the overall difficulty. You can play through the game on Normal and one-shot enemies, but the second you reach the first boss, you’re put to the test. These boss fights will be unlike anything you’ve encountered up until then. It’s a mean way to force the player to understand blocking and dodging as it’s something they didn’t have to do until that fight. The difficulty levels need some serious adjusting since Normal is way too easy, and I found myself merely increasing the difficulty on regular stages just for some kind of challenge.
Ogre Tale is a beautiful game with some great character designs and environments. The enemies are reused a bit too much, but that could be because I played levels over and over and just got used to seeing them. Still, they’re all fun looking Yokai. The animations for the three characters are simply adorable, and they each match their respective personalities. The way the characters move around the room and interact is just an overall fun experience. Also, after you progress further into the game, you unlock online game modes. Sadly, I wasn’t able to find a server for this review.
Ogre Tale is more than just your standard everyday beat ’em up as it has some of the best character writing in the genre. It’s a game that you can take at your own pace and will consistently provide you with new items and upgrades after each mission. The game could use some difficulty balancing and additional controller support, but nothing really takes away from the overall fun experience. The saddest part is, when it’s over, your left wishing you can hang out with these characters just a little bit longer.
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