This review is a total fail. I am supposed to review a game called Hyakki Yagyo, and after several hours playing it I still don’t know what the heck I am doing. When looking at the descrption in the App Store you get the following not too helpful information:
”This is Japanese style 3D shooting game.
The player side becomes a shrine maiden.
When striking at an enemy,
You can use two methods of the magic circle and shot.”
To get to know more I took a look at the webpage for Hyakki Yagyo, and got the following addition to the description:
”In the rule of this game, you won’t die even if you recieved enemy’s attack.
(However, the energy of the magic circle and power to attack decrease.)
You should defeat the boss in each stage until the time limit. If the boss run away three times, Game is over. (When the stage boss can run away even once, it is game over.)”
Ok, this helps quite a lot actually as I at least get to know why I never die in the game. I still have no clue to the background to the shrine maiden, heck I don’t even know what a shrine maiden is.
Hyakki Yagyo is a shooter where you control the shrine maiden by tilting your iPhone. Simply tap the screen to shoot, and you can even hold the screen for autofire without any risk of running out of ammo. Special attacks are performed by multitouching the screen, and once the game enters a special slow motion state you can draw a circle to attack everything within it.
The controls work quite well even though you can’t calibrate the controls once the game is in progress. Calibration is only found in the main options menu. Getting the game to register the multitouch can be a bit twitchy, and I tend to go back and forth between reality and circle attack instead of actually attacking.
The game does not save your progress when you have to quit by either lack of time or incoming phone calls. This is not good, not at all. It takes quite a while to complete the six levels, and if you are aiming for a highscore it can easily be wiped out by a friend calling in the middle of the last level.
Enemies come in a variety of strange shapes, ranging from small combinations of musical notes and dog turds to large skeleton bosses. Those you meet on the level can’t kill you but diminish your power meter found at the bottom of the screen. I played the game by simply holding the screen to fire, while at the same time doing something else until a boss appears. The boss has to be captured by shooting until it runs out of energy or until you manage to capture it using the circle attack. A times ticks down until the boss escapes, and you can only let two of them escape as you die when the third escapes. Level bosses kill you right away if they escape.
The presentation in Hyakki Yagyo is beautiful reminding me of Okami for the Wii with a lucid dreamy hypnotic feel to it. At times it is hard telling the enemies apart from the moving landscape though. The music is also really good combining traditional Asian vibes with a modern electronica in a strangely appealing mix. Firing your weapon as the shrine maiden is really annoying though with an unnerving high pitched sound.
Gamelife is ensured by Openfeint integration with high scores for the 6 levels, and achievements for capturing the level bosses in hard difficulty. There are only easy and normal difficulty unlocked from the start, and you have to complete the game to unlock hard mode.
Hyakki Yagyo is strange as a game because of the long travel sections between the levels. Not being able to die during these is really weird, and I feel that collecting points by killing the lesser enemies is a bit boring. I want to have action in a shooter, and feeling threatened is a big part of a good action game. A bit more story would also be really good to introduce the world of the shrine maiden.
Great presentation, ok controls and a unique gameplay on the one hand. Poor story/introduction, no ingame calibration, no savegame function, and a strange pacing of the game on the other hand. Sadly the negative aspects of the game weighs the game down too much. If you are interested in playing a hypnotic game set in a lovely Okami like world I can recommend it. If you are looking for a shooter that challenges you intensely Hyakki Yagyo is not the right game for you.
This review is a total fail but hopefully you know as much about Hyakki Yagyo as me from reading it.