(Editor’s Note: This is not a review of Akaneiro)American McGee is the patron saint of MMO Fallout, an interesting turn of events when you consider that the man has never been involved in an MMO. What I love about American McGee is that his companies have remained one of the few developers willing to take real risks, knowing full well that not everything they do is going to be a winner. For every brilliant title like Alice there is a Bad Day LA, but it is not without the mistakes made in the latter that the former could be fully realized. Akaneiro: Demon Hunters certainly doesn’t disappoint in the category of unexpected mashups: A Diablo-esque hack and slash set to a an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood which takes place in Feudal Japan and features Okami-style calligraphy graphics.
For all of you Diablo/Torchlight fans out there, you already know how this works: You have a central hub where the trading and leveling takes place, and the game mostly revolves around repeating dungeons where the objective is to beat the crap out of vast armies of enemies in order to obtain the randomly generated loot which can either be equipped or sold to a vendor. As you level up, you gain access to better loot with which to kill bigger and tougher bad guys to get even better loot. Each area contains multiple difficulties that must be completed in order and each level increases the power of mobs in the area as well as the types of mini-bosses, their placement, and difficulty. Shops sell equipment (which is typically overpriced and underwhelming in quality, as is the case in most ARPGs) as well as boosts which increase your base stats, exp gain, and quality of drops.
Akaneiro is still in development, meaning features like crafting and cooperative play are still unavailable. With that in mind, let’s talk about the worst aspect of Akaneiro: The cash shop. Had there been no cash shop, Akaneiro might be considered something of a hardcore title: The game completely removes the potion system, meaning instead of relying on chugging vials you have to kill enemies for their delicious karma shards, as well as gaining health via abilities that sap foes. You don’t level up as you move through a dungeon, instead the experience all goes into a pool that is awarded once you complete your designated task and head back into town. If you have to abandon the mission for any reason (including death), you forfeit your xp pool.
The system isn’t to make the game more hardcore, unfortunately, but to monetize death, and this is no more apparent than once you get further into the game and Akaneiro starts throwing not just larger swarms of tougher mobs, but creatures that can stun you for ridiculous lengths of time while their friends club you to death. As a mechanic, Akaneiro is a callback to the days of coin-gobbling arcade machines where life was cheap, death was often unfair, and the game was geared the nickel and dime the player, or I should say quarter and quarter. I probably wouldn’t even be as annoyed if the game forced you to forfeit the xp gain, but the fact that death is just seen as a funneling mechanic to the cash shop is both obnoxious and, in a way, sleazy on Spicy Horse’s part.
And I could be wrong on some of this, not that there is any way of finding out since any and all of Akaneiro’s help tools either don’t exist at all or are “coming soon.”
Overall, Akaneiro is shaping up to be a solid game that will probably be killed by its disappointing monetization scheme in the form of what they call “pay to revive,” which Spicy Horse finds to be agreeable on the grounds that “players are not forced to revive.” I agree with this statement one hundred percent as fact, and judging by the statistics supplied to us by Raptr where players have played an average of 24 minutes (3,623 players and 1,501 hours played as of this writing) it looks like they aren’t forced to play at all. It takes a whole five hours of tracked game time to reach the top 10% of players in Raptr.