Onmyoji has become quite a popular game over in Asia, and because of this popularity, western gamers now have an opportunity to see what this title is all about as an English language version is available in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Scandinavia (Denmark, Findland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden). Now available on iOS, Onmyoji will be available for Android on February 1 and PC via Steam and Facebook Gameroom at some point in the future.
Onmyoji is an RPG filled with character designs that were heavily influenced by anime. Anime aficionados may even recognize some of the dialogue in the game as being voiced by industry legends as Rie Kugimiya of Full Metal Alchemist fame and Jun Fukuyama of Code Geass. Onmyoji is set during the Heian period, where players take control of the onmyoji Abe no Seimei. Seimei must embark on a quest in order to recover his lost memories. Early on Seimei receives guidance from a two tailed white fox spirit named Kohaku. Kohaku advises Seimei on what to do next as a means of being an incognito tutorial device, though he does get into some hot water early on when he faces accusations of devouring a sparrow.
Being an RPG, Seimei progresses through story by the common activities that most heroes do in these sort of games, which involve talking to a lot of people to ascertain what is happening in the world and what sort of evil power needs to be killed in order to set things right and then going to out to kill it. Seimei is able to summon powerful spirits to assist him in battle, called shikigami, and acquiring these spirits felt like taking part in an actual magick ritual. Using one’s finger to draw a pentagram on the touchscreen (the early access build for this preview was played on an iPhone) Seimei can call forth powerful shikigami to go into battle with him.
Gameplay mechanics are fairly simple in Onmyoji. The player taps the part of the screen they want to interact with, whether it is walk to a different location or talk to an NPC, and the fingertips make everything happen. Talking to characters can get Seimei into some situations where the next course of action isn’t immediately clear, but thanks to Seimei being an onmyoji he is able to activate an ability to see beyond what us mere mortals can comprehend and see clues that are only visible within the spirit world. This is a good way to uncover evidence proving the innocence of a friend or reveal some malevolent force hiding in the darkness.
Combat mechanics are just as simple, though the combat itself can require some deeper strategy than its simplicity may imply. At the beginning of battle the player has the option to arrange their shikigami on the battlefield before getting into the heat of battle. Once battle commences it’s pretty standard turn based JRPG kind of stuff where the player basically taps the action they want the character to take and what target they want to hit. Certain attacks can cover a large area of effect or inflict substantial damage, but those take up orbs which do limit how often such attacks can occur, but anyone who’s played an RPG before would expect that.
Whether they be friend or foe, the world is filled with various onmyoji who all have their own back story and motivation for seeking the ends they seek. As an onmyoji, Seimei’s role in the world is to defeat malicious and find balance between the material and spirit world. Defeating more evil spirits will allow the player to collect more shikigami to fight at their side, and as they journey through the world they will be able to customize their character further as they become the most powerful onmyoji the world has ever seen.
Like a lot of games playable on mobile devices, the player is connected to a world populated by other players, making this an adventure that can be enjoyed with friends and strangers alike in a game that offers PvP and PvE, but it can also be enjoyable when played solo. Exploration mode has plenty of quests to keep players occupied that mix character interaction with strategic RPG combat in a well-balanced ratio. The beautiful artwork, interesting plots and accessible gameplay warrant giving this mobile title a look.