Developer(s) – Bungie & Rockstar Games
Publisher(s) – Gathering of Developers
Designer – Hardy LeBel
ELSPA – 15
Heavily inspired by the infamous Japanese manga film, Ghost in the Shell, Oni is a third-person action game, which to me, can be described as wanting at best. Though the release of the PlayStation 2 marked a turning point in how Sony would approach the 3D action-adventure genre, and release some of the best games of the kind, such as Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, this early PlayStation 2 and PC title doesn’t fall into that category in my opinion. There have been mixed reviews of this game, and I wanted a definitive answer but was disappointed by the result.
Graphics – 5/10
From the very first level, I thought very little of the variety and quality in visual design, thinking nothing of it other than it being bland and boring. Though it had been influenced by one of my favorite Japanese films, it doesn’t seem to me like the developers capitalized on that properly, since they clearly haven’t added any flair to that concept in a bid to make the content of the game truly their own cohesive work. Also, compared to many early PlayStation 2 titles, I don’t think it does a particularly good job of showing off what the system was capable of on a graphical level either.
Gameplay – 5/10
In terms of gameplay, I found that things didn’t get significantly better by any means. There’s nothing about it to even make it stand out to any particular extent next to other early PlayStation 2 games like Operation Winback or even Gift. There is a little bit of variety to be experienced towards the end of Oni, but for the most part, it stays extremely repetitive and extremely unmemorable the way I see it. I even felt fatigued by playing it before the first hour had passed, and it felt like a chore to play through it to the end.
Controls – 4/10
Like many 3D action-adventure games on the original PlayStation, Oni’s control scheme is dishearteningly broken. Everything about the game’s controls from aiming weapons to moving around to traversing platforms to hand-to-hand combat makes the games ever more dismal and unsatisfying to play. Although Bungie would later be known among the gaming company for developing some of the best first-person shooters of all time, I guess 3D action-adventure games are not their strong point.
Lifespan – 4/10
To soldier through the game’s main story campaign will take roughly about 5 hours, but in all honesty, I think player interest will be outlasted by its lifespan. I don’t believe there’s enough to do or see in the game that would make people want to play it for any extended amount of time.
Storyline – 3/10
The story of Oni centers on a secret agent named Konoko, who works for the police force responsible for suppressing opposition to the laws of the dystopian society that Earth has become, but later embarks on a quest for self-discovery. There is one major twist in the plot at a point, but other than that, I don’t think there was much thought put into it at all. The voice acting is weak at best, and the characters are consequently very monotonous and very hard to identify with; it’s indeed not worthy of the excellent story it was influenced by.
Originality – 1/10
Again, the game draws inspiration from an excellent source, but that influence was not built upon enough to make it stand out anywhere near on the same level as the controversial Japanese film. There’s no room for artistic interpretation or debate, and on top of that, there is nothing new or exciting brought to the table in terms of gameplay either.
Overall, Oni is a dreadful gaming experience, and I would advocate anyone who is sat on the fence about it, as I was, to not bother with it. Bungie has since gained well-deserved renown as video game developers, but this early example merely lives in the shadow of what they have gone on to achieve, and in my opinion, rightfully so.