Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed E3 Impression
Despite sounding like a sequel to Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed, Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is actually the previously-unlocalized predecessor to that game, and consequently shares quite a few similarities with its 2013 counterpart. However, the two games’ stories are unrelated, so sequential play order or familiarity with the license are really not required to enjoy this outing; a certain sense of humor, however, is a definite must.
The game, like others in the franchise, takes its name from being set in the Akihabara district in Tokyo. Speaking with Ryan Graff, the game’s localization lead, the development team took quite a few pains to accurately model the in-game Akihabara after the real thing, going so far as to include the exact stores and vendor stalls, complete with name branding, as in the real world. It must be remembered that this game is a remaster of a PlayStation Portable title rather than a complete remake, so the graphics, particularly navigation in the Akihabara district, looked suitably low-poly.
The game revolves around main character Nanashi, who gets caught up with two factions within Akihabara: the underground vampire clan called Shadow Souls, and NIRO, the clandestine government agency devoted to hunting down Shadow Souls. Within the opening scene, Nanashi is ambushed by the Shadow Souls’ maniacal leader, and left to bleed out in an abandoned alley. He is saved from death by the lead vampire’s merciful sister, who turns him into a Shadow Soul to save his life; Nanashi’s friend, however, is not so lucky. Sensing that Nanashi has an involuntary connection to the Shadow Souls, NIRO recruits him as a double agent, and, without spoiling the game’s plot any further, things go from there.
Of course, the previous western Akiba’s Trip release became known for featuring an unconventional combat mechanic, and Hellbound & Debriefed follows suit — it’s right there in the name, after all. Combat is hand-to-hand, taking the form of a 2D martial arts fighting game, and in order to win, Nanashi must target specific articles of his opponent’s clothing and literally punch and kick them off their body. Of course, enemies will do the same to him, and combat upgrades include acquiring new combat moves and keeping clothes from vanquished enemies to wear yourself. Things do get raucous, but the game shies away from any actual nudity.
No one can accuse Akiba’s Trip to be conventional; whether its sense of offbeat humor appeals is a different matter, but players returning to the franchise will already know what to expect. Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is coming to PC and PlayStation 4 later this year.