|System: PS Vita|
|Dev: Alfa System|
|Release: March 3, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 544p||Blood, Crude Humor, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence|
Once you get into the rhythm of living month to month, earning devotion, building your wealth, and keeping your clan going as members are born and die, Oreshika becomes a fascinating and compelling experience. The story unfolds gradually as you confront the sorcerer who cursed you about once a year. In the meantime, you come to care for your clan as they live out their too-brief lives and deliver a heartfelt eulogy upon their deaths.
The beautiful package in which Oreshika is wrapped helps with the feeling that you're in a living Japanese epic. The graphics look like classical Japanese art come to life, from the architecture to the watercolor-style cutscenes to the bizarre demonic enemies. Traditional Japanese music makes up the score, and has been chosen well to represent the ebb and flow of the game's energy. There is no English dub, but listening to the Japanese actors voice the lines just makes sense in Oreshika. They are unusually good at conveying character and emotion across language barriers, and I find it hard to imagine listening to English voices in this particular game.
If there's one major negative to playing Oreshika, it's that the game relies a bit too heavily on the random nature of the loot slot machines. In particular, getting special weapons that unlock new gods and unlocking new character classes for your clan members requires a great deal of luck at the slots. There's nothing more frustrating than finally landing on one of these elusive items, only to have the enemy commander decide to scarper off on the second turn of the fight. Still, this is a game that is meant to be played over the long haul, (it even lets you tweak its speed and experience rates, but the fastest estimated playthrough time is thirty hours) so everything is likely to shake out in the end.
Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines is a welcome start to 2015's lineup of Japanese RPGs. It's something quite different from the usual fare that has come bouncing and giggling onto our shores lately. It's a hard-core strategic and time-management RPG that also presents a sweeping heroic history of a doomed clan searching for redemption. That very hard-core nature, as well as the over-reliance on random loot roles, will undoubtedly turn off some players. For those who enjoy really digging into RPG systems or who love Japanese mythology, however, it's a real treat.
Date: March 4, 2015