Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines Review – Taint Very Good (Vita)
What can I say about Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines that hasn’t already been said about the third Matrix movie. It’s a game full of ideas and what looks like it has great depth at first, yet it falls flat on it’s face at almost every turn. I honestly really wanted to like this game, as the Vita is really in need of more quality offerings, and it was fairly interesting when I first booted it up. However, that excitement quickly faded as I delved deeper into it and realized just how good this game could have actually been with a bit more polish and just a smidgen of fun.
Tainted Bloodlines starts you off with a sad intro about a clan being killed off by demons and you, the head of a clan, being sentenced to death by the emperor as punishment. However, a god decides to take pity on you, reviving your clan and setting you on a mission to redeem your name and bring justice to those that wronged you. As with anything you are given though, it is often too good to be true and this is no exception. With your revival, a curse has been placed on you and your descendants where your lifespan has been shortened to two years and you may never mate again with another human, instead having to get jiggy with gods to bear new members of your clan.
After making it through the intro, you will then be tasked with creating your main character and his two sidekicks. During this process, you will want to pay close attention to the difficulty you decide on for the game, as your options here change the game time you will need to put in. The easiest setting places the game at 30 hours to completion, while the hardest of the five settings will net you around 120 hours of gameplay. I honestly don’t know how anyone could play this game for 120 hours, but to each their own on that.
Following the difficulty setting, you can create the look and name of your main clan leader, as well as the trade of both your lead and the two other clans members. The options you will have are Fencer, Archer, Halberdier, Wrecker, Gunner, Lancer, Martial Artist, and Dancer. Pay very close attention to the trades you select, as for a good chunk of the beginning of the game, these will be your only trade options to use for new children in the clan. As you progress you will unlock the abilities to create the others, but it can take some time before that happens. The trades all feel very unique and are genuinely fun to use, specifically the Dancer.
My Clan Kills Demons…With Planning!
To remove the curses laid upon your family, you will need to travel to the different areas of the world and kill off the demons who stand in your way until you can get to the culprit of the curse. However, before you just run out and start swinging away, you will need to plan out exactly how you will spend your time each month. This planning can be done solely by yourself or with the aid of your trusty half-weasel, half-human sidekick, Kochin. For the most part, I found it easier to simply have her plan out my month and then just act on it, rather than select the options of what to gather, where to go, what items to bring, etc.
Planning will also revolve around what to do with your town, as you can invest money into expanding your weapon and armor shop, or bringing more entertainment into the town. Like earlier, this planning can be done by yourself or it will be a part of Kochin’s plan for the month. It is kind of cool to see your tiny town grow as you invest money into it, but you never actually see anyone in the town, so it never feels alive.
Once you have accepted your plan for the month, you will then head out and try to accomplish the task. Most of the time you will be running through a dungeon to either find a specific scroll, defeat a set amount of demons, or release a god by defeating them. The quests to defeat demons or release a god are fairly easy to complete. However the quests to gain a scroll can be downright annoying as the drops are completely random, leaving you spending months to gather a single damn item. These quests are made even more annoying with the month time limit set on them, which goes by far too quickly. In fact, traversing dungeons is made frustrating by the fact that time passes the entire time you spend in the dungeon and passes far too quickly to ever seem like you’re making any progress.
No Really, My Clan Kills Demons in Combat!
Now that you have planned out your month, from your purpose during that time to your investment portfolio, it’s time to get into that dungeon and kick some ass. Starting a battle is as simple as walking up to an enemy on the battlefield. The way you approach them matters, as catching them from behind triggers initiative and getting attacked from behind gives them the advantage. After triggering a battle with the demon, you will be greeted with a spinning reel that will have items, scrolls, and weapons listed on it. When the wheel stops, the items and such listed are what you can receive as a prize for winning the battle. Once that is settled, it’s time to get swinging.
In battle, you control your party of up to four members, that are placed on either the front or back row of the battlefield. The placement of each member of the party changes the way they attack and their defenses. For example, it might not be wise to place a gunner right up front, while it makes sense to stick a high defense trade like the fencer in the front. Now, in battle you have free reign to control your leader and what he does, but the rest of the clan gets a bit trickier. At the beginning of each members turn, you will have options given to you by said member on what they want to do. These are usually attack enemy A, attack enemy C, Defend, Use a skill, or something like that. Selecting these preset choices ensures that your loyalty remains high with that member, but you can always go against these wishes and select your own attack, but your loyalty will suffer a bit.
The demon parties you will be facing off against have a leader, just as your party does, and the battle will be over once one of the leaders has been slain. So, if you don’t feel like dragging out the fight, you can go straight for the leader and end it quickly, but your experience will be lessened. The enemy leader also has the ability to bolt from the battlefield with your possible winnings, so it’s a decision each battle to go straight for the leader and loot, or take out the entire party and risk getting nothing but EXP.
Combat for me is a bit of a mixed bag. On the outside, there is really nothing fundamentally wrong with it and everything works the way it was intended. Then again, the combat isn’t overly fun or engaging, with very few “epic” battles and a majority of the time spent fighting enemies just felt dull. This opens a bit later in the game when you unlock more trades and the enemies seem to get a bit harder, but early on it’s just a snore fest through the battles and the dungeons themselves.
This is How the Teague Family was Born
With such a short life span for your family members and a long list of people you need to take down, you must procreate to keep your name going. However, you can’t just get with any old human out there, so it’s time to find you some gods and goddesses and perform a rite called the Divine Union.
This essentially boils down to a breeding system you might find it other games. Select your family member and a god/goddess of your choosing and then get to the divine union. There is a bit more to it then that actually. As you kill demons you will gain devotion that you in turn use to earn a god’s approval to perform the rite of union and have a baby. There are a lot of deities to choose from, each with their own skills and level of devotion needed to obtain their love. Making the baby takes about a month before they will arrive and once they do, you will need about two months to train them before they are available to fight in battles. Skills and abilities learned from the parent will transfer over to the child, as well as anything learned from their assigned teacher.
The process of growing your family tree over the years can be pretty cool, as it transferring those skills through the generation and just watching as your name continues on. I just wish there was more attachment to the characters and actually feeling a loss when they moved on. Instead it feels like the characters die far too quickly and are replaced by another family member that never feels all that different from the one before. It all became one big mash up of unrecognizable family members that all basically perform the same.
A Beautifully Crafted World
The art style for Oreshika is just a beautiful thing to see. The “painted on” look that the game posses makes each cut-scene, character, and dungeon really shine with this really unique look. It reminds me a bit of the first time I played Valkyria Chronicles, where the art style just really dragged me into the fray. The game gives you this old school Japanese painting feel that just really nails it. The dungeons actually really surprised me, with a fair amount of color and depth to their presentation. It would have been nice if the dungeons didn’t drag on for infinity, but at least it was pretty along the way. On the audio side of things, it was also a pleasant soundtrack and voice cast that did well to push you through the game without feeling annoying or overblown.
The biggest let down in presentation is with the clear lack of direction when traveling through the dungeons. There is no clear indication where you need to travel, leaving you to spend months aimlessly wandering through dungeons. Trying to remember exactly where the green and red gates are and just where the hell the keys are to unlock them. Oh, and in the event you have to run to the end of the dungeon to take on an enemy, the month is basically done. This lack of direction also runs over to taking care of your town, as if you plan out your month’s on your own, there is never any clear direction on just what the hell you need to quest for, leaving you to just throw darts are a board to decide.
Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines is a game that just really doesn’t do anything great. You load it up, piddle around in some dungeons, make babies, and repeat. There is never a sense of accomplishment associated with any part of your journey. The entirety of your time spent in this game will be like watching paint dry on a fence. You know something is happening to the paint but it’s not the most fun thing to watch. That’s not to say the game isn’t without it’s appealing parts and there will be an audience out there who will enjoy a fairly good breeding system and the lengthy dungeons. It just seems at the end of the day, there is slightly more bad then good here and I really can’t recommend running out and purchasing it at full price… or even half price for that matter.
Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines review copy was provided by the developer. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.