Onigo Hunter left me with some early questions. What are these Onigos exactly? And why am I hunting them? These monsters reside in the ancient ruins that hunters explore in search of artifacts. Said artifacts contribute to the development of the Kingdom. How so? I couldn’t tell you. But enough, let the hunt begin.
You start by picking your difficulty level, easy or tough. Where’s normal? The plot is actually alright, as ruin hunts quickly turn into a search for the missing king. Where it stumbles is in the low-effort naming (Lucifer Island, Satan Island… seriously?). The game isn’t as horrific as the naming implies; it feels like the devs simply pulled generic names out of a hat. Even the lone inhabited island is known merely as the town.
Where the story loses steam is through slow development. I hoped for occasional surprises, but things advance at too limited a pace for my liking. After 7-8 hours, I couldn’t tell you much in the way of twists. Onigo Hunter is the type of RPG you can pick up and play seamlessly after setting it down for a week. The plot takes a backseat to the gameplay.
However, like some of the island naming, the gameplay can be misleading. You’ll be disappointed learning that the monsters you capture don’t fight alongside you. Instead, you combine them to make items via Energy Alchemy Devices. I had some initial interest in this, as it helped early on. However, this gameplay gimmick falls victim to KEMCO’s numerous attempts at innovation. What sounds good on paper ends up being used sparingly in-game.
One of the more significant changes outside of combat involves overworld travel. The traditional approach is absent. Instead, you click the spot on the map, and you are there. While I can appreciate that this cuts down on time, I do miss individual towns. The lone hub town houses a guild, equipment shop, and tavern, living up to its name’s implied personality, or lack thereof.
A lack of personality extends to the main characters, who are cliched variants of previously seen tropes. None are offensive, just forgettable. Lead Fain allies with Lumiere, the king’s teenage daughter, her doting tea-serving butler Sebastian, and a mechanical doll machine. Onigo Hunter doesn’t go beyond the minimum I expected.
The game has a couple of things working in its favor, though. The guild requests, where you can grind your way up in rank and watch your monster compendium fill, are compelling in their own way. Although mostly standard, a couple of musical tracks remind me of Yasufumi Fukuda’s compositions in Smash Bros. Brawl.
It’s a shame that the unique elements of Onigo Hunter (monster acquisition, map trimming) have only a marginal impact. You’re left with a generic RPG, the kind that many uninformed associate with the publisher. This game could be comfort food to grab on sale, but there are superior offerings from this publisher. Onigo Hunter comes off as a lower-effort KEMCO RPG.