Originally released on Sony’s PlayStation Portable way back in 2011, the first game in the Akiba’s Trip series is making its way to PS4, Switch and PC later this month in the form of Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound and Debriefed.
We’ve been hands-on with the opening hours of the title, and to call it a remaster is perhaps a little generous. Instead, consider it more of an uprezzed port. Its PSP roots shine through, with basic character models, small environments and low-quality textures aplenty. Due to its anime styling, however, it’s not too much of a biggie; after the initial shock of how dated it looks, you’ll soon just settle in to have a good time.
The premise of Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is an interesting one, and puts the player in a unique scenario. You’re essentially turned into a vampire at the start of the game after attempting to save your friend. Picked up by a shadowy organisation, you’re then given the opportunity to get revenge, and begin working with them to take down other vampires, or Shadow Souls as they’re called in-game. To do that, you have to strip off their clothes in broad daylight, exposing their soft, delicate flesh.
In the early hours of the game, we’ve explored a few of the streets of Akihabara, and established a base of operations. On most streets you’ll find shops where weapons and clothing can be purchased, each with their own attack and durability values. You’ll need money to buy them, of course, and you’ll earn plenty as you complete missions. Up to now they’ve been fairly simple – head to a certain area and kill a specific vampire or even a group of them. If you’re playing on a harder difficulty, though, you might have to pick on some weaker vampires first to get your skills up, or purchase some e-books which boost your clothes-removing abilities.
With vampires dressing like normal people and not exhibiting any tell-tale signs of being exactly what they are unless they’re naked and burning in the sunlight, you might be wondering how you identify vampires in Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed. The answer is, you have a special device that modifies the camera you’re always carrying around with you. In any given area you can raise your camera with a touch of a button, before getting people in view and then taking a shot. Humans will appear in your picture, while vampires will not. You can then get on with the act of engaging them in combat and stripping them of their clothes.
Unfortunately, the combat in Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed hasn’t impressed me so far. You have high, medium and low attacks, and you’ll need to use them to weaken the clothing your opponents are wearing in those key areas. You can keep hitting them if you want, which may eventually result in their clothing simply breaking. It’s better, however, to try and rip your opponents clothing off once it’s been weakened enough. Sometimes you can end up in a chain-stripping situation, too, tearing off one item of clothing after another if you can time your button presses just right.
It’s just a shame that the combat is so clunky and basic, as there’s seemingly quite a lot of it to be done. You can’t lock onto an opponent, either, which makes singling one out during a mass brawl very tricky indeed. Hopefully as I progress further into the game it’ll grow on me a little as I get more accustomed to it.
Set for release on 20th July on PC, and 23rd July on PS4 and Switch, Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is likely to be an interesting curio for fans of the series and those simply into obscure Japanese games. With a branching story that leads to multiple endings, those who do get on with it are likely to find themselves playing though it at least a few times, too. It doesn’t look too hot, but its interesting premise has drawn me in. It’s just a shame that the combat has been equally frustrating and enjoyable thus far. Come back for a full review later this month.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed launches 20th July in PC and 23rd July on PS4 and Switch.