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August 2020


Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: DevilishGames
Release Date: 2020


PC Preview - 'Onirike'

by Cody Medellin on July 10, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Onirike is an action/adventure game where you explore a 3D exotic open world as Prieto, working through puzzles and platform maps based on famous classic games.

Sometimes, the best way to stand out in a crowded field of games is to just be odd. Having a world that is far away from some established sci-fi tropes is a start, but there are times when having a distinct set of characters is enough to make people take notice. Throwing in unexpected mechanics also helps a bit. Onirike, the latest title from Devilish Games, certainly fits that bill, and we checked out the latest public demo to see how it's shaping up.

You play the role of Prieto, a being that suffers from a type of amnesia where he can't remember anything from the previous day. One night, he decides to free a clown from his imprisonment and is then introduced to a device that helps him remember what he did the night before. This revelation suddenly thrusts him into a quest to discover more about the world he's in — and ultimately help him escape it.

The strangeness of the world is the first thing that grabs you. Everything looks to be made of clay or children's toys, while the skies are filled with flying manta rays that, while harmless, cast large shadows on the land below. The characters all have interesting designs that wouldn't seem out of place on one of the more experimental shorts from "Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation" or "MTV's Liquid Television." Accompanying the design is a look that makes the characters animated in a way that looks like Claymation or reused crumpled paper. If you wanted a modern game equivalent to the style, it would be Hylics.

Along with the graphical style comes the audio, which feels like a mash-up of divergent styles. On the one hand, the soundtrack constantly tries to evoke something epic. It feels ripped out of a big fantasy movie or TV show. On the other hand, you have a narrator who's driving the story along and speaking for every character in the game. The grand music and the narration seem like a better fit for a children's book, but when you combine it with the visuals, it somehow makes sense.

For the most part, this is a 3D platformer with some interesting design choices. There are no enemies to be seen, so none of the combat mechanics are present in the demo. There are orbs to pick up in the world, but so far, they don't seem to serve a purpose. While there is a reliance on puzzles, each one encountered is easy enough that it'll take no time at all to find the solutions. The platforming can be tricky at times, but it's not too frustrating. All of this seems like bad news for the game, but the life system is intriguing.

Once you discover the memory stone, you'll be transported into a valley of white flowers, where you can leap high into the air and collect blue spores. Those spores are essential once dawn arrives and you return to your world, since they allow you to plant gypsophila plants so you can stay put. Let your energy run out, and you become invisible, which results in you fading away unless you find a replenishing gypsophila plant. The good news is that you can plant the gypsophila plants anywhere you want instead of only at designated spots, so you can create your own life checkpoints as desired.

The system opens up possibilities and questions. On the surface, it seems restrictive, as the world invites some poking around, but we don't know if the game's spore output is generous enough to allow for that. Without that knowledge, it's difficult to gauge how hard Onirike is going to be and whether it's possible to give yourself artificially boosted difficulty by refusing to collect too many spores. We really need to play further into the game before we can make that determination. As it stands now, this can be a big deciding factor for those who are interested in the title.

There are only a few issues in the demo that need to be called out. The subtitles don't match up with the spoken dialogue. This is something that usually gets fixed near the end of development, but it is worth noting that while the overall meaning to the dialogue is the same, the mismatched subtitles are very noticeable. Another issue has to do with the camera, which is unstable in its current state. The field of view is pulled back far enough that it can seem like a reverse fish-eye lens is being used. Thanks to the camera distance, going near anything causes it to zoom in and out on a constant basis, and that can add to the unstable feeling. Finally, while it is appreciated that the narrator tells you when you're about to go invisible, it happens so often that it's more annoying than helpful.

If a demo's job is to keep players hungry for more, then Onirike's demo does a good job. The world is strange enough that you'd like to know more about it, and there's also the question of what your enemies are going to be like. The teaser at the end of the demo shows off some new powers that should be fun to use. Onirike has a release date of late 2020, and we're certainly interested to see where it goes.

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