Developer: FREE STYLE
Publisher: FREE STYLE
Genre(s): Sports, Simulation, Communication, Party
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 29/08/2019
A code was provided for review purposes
Obakeidoro is a party game that is based on the traditional Japanese game Keidoro (also like the American game Manhunt). In Keidoro, there are two roles: police and thief. Obakeidoro takes this principle and expands upon it. Instead of thieves and police, I got to play as either monsters or people. It is still a tag game, and I had to evade or chase my enemies based on my assigned role. Did this title have me sitting on the edge of my seat orr was I ready to walk away? Find out in this Rapid Review.
To begin the game, I was surprised to watch a detailed cutscene about the circumstance of the tag game. While typically, I would have assumed that the game would begin with the gameplay, I got to watch as some humans were stolen and forced to participate in this game. Once this concluded, I was thrown into the tutorials, and as expected, there was no story content to follow. Still, the small addition establishing the plot bolstered my experience with the game.
Hide or Die
As I began the tutorial, I quickly came to realize how simple the game was. When I played as a human, I could jump, shine my lantern to stun the monsters and crouch to diminish my presence. When I played as the monsters, I could grab my prey, and jump. Some monsters were able to traverse walls or leverage special abilities. Even though the options seem limited, there was plenty of skill required to play the game well and there were even advanced techniques that could be mastered by players who want to. Having comprehensible options made it easy for Obakeidoro to be played and made this game much more engaging for people who are not familiar with it.
Even though the fundamental mechanics are basic, there are additional advanced techniques to master. When multiple humans run alongside each other, they can create a slipstream, and run faster. Mastering this technique is not required, but it gives the humans an advantage in their feud. Moreover, when humans stun the monster with their lantern while he is already stunned, the monster is placed into a longer period of stun instead of wasting the second attack. Having advanced techniques that require teamwork make the game more engaging, as players will quickly learn the mechanics from their teammates. Moreover, they were fun and helpful, further incentivizing teaching other players.
On a scarier note, learning the monster’s behaviour was also engaging. They were noticeably simpler than the humans. I walked faster than the humans walking alone, so I could chase them down in a foot race. However, humans are much smaller and more challenging to see. When it was finally time to catch them, the monsters have a grab to capture humans near the range of the attack. After each use, this attack has a cooldown, to give humans a chance to flee, and to prevent chaining attacks together. This cooldown worked to prevent chain attacks most of the time. The monsters were fun to play as, and largely balanced.
Once the humans were captured, there would be a brief cutscene showing the human getting launched into jail, a box in the centre of the map. Getting sent to jail is not the end of the world though, as the jail can be opened. Each jail has multiple locks that need to be pressed before unlocking it. While playing as humans, it is important to coordinate jailbreaks with your teammates. This added level of strategy keeps the game engaging and requires teamwork, and for the humans to keep moving throughout the game.
With so many things to manage, I was surprised by how balanced Obakeidoro is. The monsters have cooldowns, the jail cannot be broken into immediately after a previous jailbreak, and humans only get to shine their lantern once. These keep the game from being unbalanced. However, I think there should have been a way to replenish lanterns. As I played, I realized that lanterns get replenished by going to jail. Thus, players can be improved by getting locked in jail and being freed. I would have liked the human players to be able to rekindle their lanterns, but in a way that requires them to go into the open or travel around the map.
Likewise, the monsters also have some questionable features. For example, immediately after a jail escape, the monsters were able to capture humans. I would have appreciated a brief period of invincibility for the humans freeing and recently freed from the jail.
The gameplay was a lot of fun but often failed to be unique. My experience with the game heavily relied on who I was playing with. The game occasionally got stale, and the slow progression towards new features did not help this. I enjoyed the gameplay, but do not see myself playing it often, as the game does not have much variety.
To make the game feel unique, the developers included a variety of new stages and unlockable characters and lanterns. Though this added variety, the progression was incredibly slow, and I could not earn rating points by playing in local cooperative modes. This meant I either had to play online or play the single-player mode. While innately this was fine, I would have liked to earn progress towards these objectives in local cooperative modes and I would have wanted there to be additional rewards in between those already in the game. This would make progressing through the game more rewarding, and work to prevent some of the stagnation.
Even though there are some personal disappointments with the balancing in the game and the game was a bit repetitive, I had a really good time and was surprised by how dynamic the gameplay was.
Obakeidoro also features a nicely polished and creepy atmosphere. The visuals are stunning, and the lanterns truly stand out from the backgrounds. The maps are interesting to explore and have details on the walls to make each map stand out from the last.
The sound design is lovely as well, the game is suspenseful, and the developers even used the sound design to inform me. When a monster approaches a human, the music changes to something more suspenseful. The music was used expertly to heighten the experience.
Despite some tedium and repetitiveness with unlocking new features and revisiting the game, Obakeidoro is a very fun experience, and I am glad I got the opportunity to play it. Though it may not have the longevity that some other multiplayer titles do, I think it is an easy game to teach, thus making it a good game for both young audiences and inexperienced players.
4 out of 5
You can purchase Obakeidoro! from the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.