Tokyo Necro Review – Living Dead in a Cold Future

    Title: Tokyo Necro
    Developer: Nitro Origin
    Release Date: March 13, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: JAST
    Genre: Visual Novel

Tokyo Necro is a visual novel developed by Nitroplus, which now uses its Nitro Origin brand to make a clear distinction for its 18+ content. With a unique blend of zombie narrative and sci-fi themes, the game discusses human nature and experiments with 3D action scenes within a visual novel framework.

Tokyo Necro takes place in a future where the world faces a new Ice Age. Humanity struggles to survive these low temperatures, with Tokyo creating a geothermal heat pipe system. Due to the current circumstances, the energy company regulating it, the Empire Energy Corp, has a lot of importance in the management of the city.

However, the snow and the corporation’s iffy intentions aren’t the only issues of this futuristic setting. Ever since the Sino-American War, a new threat has arrived: Necromancers. These technological summoners of the living dead bring fear to people’s hearts, using people’s corpses as tools for their goals.

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The government has tagged these people as terrorists, and they’re wanted dead or alive. Besides the military forces, private agencies hunt down the living dead and necromancers for profit and personal reasons. These people are called Living Dead Stalkers, and we follow the story of a man and a woman who work this job.

On one side, we have Nagaoka So’un, a diligent, stoic guy who hardly expresses emotion. His fighting style is precise and robotic, following the instructions of his Ex-Brain, a wearable device that expands the user’s consciousness as it analyzes the situations on the go.

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On the other, his partner, Kibanohara Ethica, is a lesbian whose combat style relies on instinct and flashiness as she moves around with her trusty chainsaw Rabbit Punch. She tries to live life to her fullest with a flamboyant, flirty personality.

One day, during a special mission, So’un finds a mysterious girl called Hogyo Iria in the trunk of a car. The situation is puzzling, as they have no idea why the necromancers would be targeting her. Iria looks like a run-of-the-mill girl with weird taste tied to old anime of the late 20th/early 21st century. However, she has no memories besides her name.

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Now it’s up to So’un, Ethica, and the team at the Karasuzumi Living Dead Stalker Agency to find out who she is. Along the way, they’ll uncover multiple secrets tied to the girl, the government, the necromancers, and the not-so-distant past. As we learn more about society, we also see intriguing discussions about technology, what it means to be human, and finding your place in the world.

As much as Tokyo Necro is about seeing badass people fighting zombies and weird machines, it’s also a story about finding your humanity in what seems otherwise a hopeless world. It’s a “memento mori” reminder, looking deep into our biggest fear of death, leaving behind our loved ones and being left behind by some of them, and proposing we still keep our heads up to look into the future and live true to ourselves.

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With this in mind, Tokyo Necro offers a poignant story with a cast that suffers in one way or the other for past actions, regrets, and traumas. At the same time, we can see how technology has advanced considerably from our time, and issues like criminal activity and law enforcement abuse of power have also escalated. It never reaches the same peaks as Full Metal Daemon Muramasa, but it’s consistently interesting in its world-building and plot development.

Graphics-wise, Tokyo Necro intercalates 2D moments with 3D scenes, using the latter to emphasize battle choreography animation. This bold choice pays off, making the combat scenes some of the more detailed the visual novel format can offer now. However, some people may consider it not their cup of tea compared to 2D animations, as the areas sometimes feel more barren and a little below the ideal polishment.

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Though typical zombies are part of multiple scenes, the 3D moments have So’un and Ethica fighting necromancers and living dead with altered bodies. These alterations are a unique point of Tokyo Necro related to its futuristic setting as body augmentation has become usual, and zombies’ bodies are malleable enough to make killing machines. Robotic creatures with similar principles also exist.

While the 2D scenes are usually less intense, the backgrounds are very detailed, reflecting the feeling of a non-ideal future. Tokyo looks like a town struggling to survive, its pipes just keeping it barely alive. Places are mostly industrial-looking, and whenever we get to a popular Tokyo area of our time, it is devastating to see they’re in ruins, their old meaning utterly lost to time.

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Nitroplus’ partnership with ZIZZ Studio (Full Metal Daemon Muramasa, Slow Damage) is repeated here, with them handling the background music for this title. The music matches the story beats’ tone remarkably well, with a highlight being Kizu, which plays at one of the most emotional scenes of the game and makes it a memorable moment.

One thing to note is the Steam version cuts a ton of content from the game. Even beyond the sex scenes and illustrations featuring nudity or some choice of clothing that may lead to a Steam ban due to their arbitrary logic, JAST cut story events and moments of extreme relevance to the story.

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The censored build doesn’t even play a few 3D sequences, and I’m honestly puzzled by the reasoning here. However, it’s understandable that the publisher went to such lengths after Valve’s store banned their already-censored Full Metal Daemon Muramasa build. I’d recommend getting the game at JAST Store if possible. Otherwise, the JAST Store’s free 18+ patch is necessary to enjoy the game.

Another detail I’d like to mention is that I found a few typos and issues here and there, like term translation inconsistencies. These details are small and relatively rare, and I’d argue they didn’t significantly impact the game’s quality. Nonetheless, it’s a shame they persist in the current build.

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Tokyo Necro fits in perfectly with other Nitroplus-developed titles. This world of cold, zombies, and technology may have somber, darker undertones, but it’s also one of hope for people’s efforts to be their better selves. This contrast and the hype-inducing 3D action scenes make it a highlight in its genre and a must-play.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.