Onikira: Demon Killer
Now Available on Steam Early Access
Developed by Digital Furnace Games
In the blood-steeped lands of feudal Japan exists a history rich with gruesome folklore of oni and yokai, creatures of our minds creation that lurk in the darkness and haunt mortals from beyond. Onikira: Demon Killer takes a bold step into the darker side of Japanese tradition and mythology, pitting you against the dark energies of hellish realms that threaten to creep into the world of the living and feast upon the souls of the unsuspecting.
The gritty, heavy visual style of the game and its usage of dark demonic imagery and lots of blood red hues gave me strong vibes of the PS2 era Shinobi and evokes that same kind of obscure attraction to the Japanese underworld felt from that series. The gameplay itself takes cues from only the greatest of action games with an addictive grading system strongly resembling Devil May Cry's, insane almost endless aerial combos reminiscent of Bayonetta, and brightly colored red and blue orbs for replenishing your health or energy that fans of the Onimusha series will be familiar with. In the end, this is a developer who wears their influences on their sleeve, and some mighty fine influences these are.
The music is dark, heavy, and fitting. The percussions beat with the strength and power of a taiko drummer, the eerie and almost gothic sounding riffs of the interspersed guitar tearing in and out. When I hear the evil and ominous melodies in Onikira with their Eastern overtones I am instantly reminded of some of the best music from Mortal Kombat, particularly of the 3 and 4 era, and this is a very good thing when it comes to the subject matter dealt with in such a game.
Currently Onikira features two very lengthy, sufficiently challenging (though a hard mode would be nice for the old schoolers!), and detailed levels and one outstanding boss battle. If the boss fight we're shown here is any indication, the game has some huge ambitions when it comes to monster designs and the bosses will hopefully continue in this giant titan-like structure that gives the current encounters such an epic feel.
Aside from hacking and slashing your way through the first story based levels available currently there's a combat arena facing you against waves of increasingly difficult enemies, and is the perfect place to hone and perfect your skills while testing your ability against the rest of the world with the included Leaderboards.
Just like these great hacknslash titles of the past, Onikira: Demon Killer has some of the sharpest and most responsive action around. You can slice your enemies with a barrage of normal attacks, toss them in the air with a heavy attack and continue your onslaught with a follow-up air combo. Freakish oni heads float above shooting lazers at you while you use the dash ability to dodge the beam and keep the combo meter going. Boss battles are already beyond epic in scope and show huge ambition in size, and the weapons you're given to slay these grotesque creatures with are already a serious blast to experiment with.
So far this is an already satisfying action slash 'em up with some incredible influences and only a few non-gamebreaking rough spots, and if you're as optimistic as I am about its future there's no better time to get involved than now. Digital Furnace have nailed the feel of a dark and demonic feudal Japan, and I'm excited to see what content is in store for the future.