The mythology of vampires has been interpreted in many different ways in the past few years, with the adult focused Vampire the Masquerade and light hearted representations in The Sims 3 providing opposite ends of the spectrum. The latest title from NIS America, Akiba’s Trip Undead and Undressed, is another reimagining of the creatures of the night, which places them within a modern day setting and changes the rules to suit its purpose.
Taking the role of a freedom fighting high school student, whose gender you choose, you awaken to find yourself transformed into a vampire, or a Synthister, as they are known within the game. After being liberated by a mysterious girl named Shizuku, you learn that instead of sucking blood from your victims, you drain their energy and motivation to survive. You decide not to submit to the ones who converted you, and so you must defeat the Synthisters that come your way, and uncover the deadly secrets that are being held by a corporation known as Magaimono. The general plot has been told many times, but Akiba’s Trip is quite inventive in how it deals with the situations that you come across, leading you to genuinely wonder what will happen next.
In order to defeat the Synthisters, you need to engage them in real time combat. The basic actions are limited to attacking the head, the midsection or the feet. To get rid of the enemy for good, you will need to weaken each section with multiple attacks, and then remove their clothes when they begin to glow. This will expose them to the sun, and they fade away. While this is an interesting mechanic, this is unfortunately as advanced as the combat gets, with only the ability to dodge and perform slightly more powerful attacks providing any sense of difference. You will not have to worry about nudity, because they all wear undergarments to hide their sensitive areas.
Outside of the battle system, you will interact with NPCs in a visual novel style fashion, and travel between different locations to resolve the conflict. Whilst the frame rate of all the game’s sections remained consistently fluid, I felt that moving the main character around the map felt awkward, almost like you were controlling a ragdoll rather than a human being. It was also quite common to bump into many of the NPCs you meet along route, even though you were not intentionally heading in their direction.
Akiba’s Trip: UAU is set in the town of Akihabara, and similar to games such as Sleeping Dogs and The Getaway, the in-game map is almost identical to the real life location. This is enhanced by the fact that you can visit virtual versions of actual shops. Their stock will vary on occasion, as should be expected, but this kind of authenticity is rarely seen in video games because of licensing fees for product placement and world design practicalities. There are also several signs for SEGA posted all over the map, which is slightly odd considering that the two developers are in no way connected. However, the real-life location and shops make the world feel immersive, aside from the energy vampires that you wouldn’t find in the real world. If you want something to distract you from saving the world, you can take photographs using the in game camera, and keep in touch with social media by using Pitter.
Unfortunately for English dub fans, the quality of the translation feels very unprofessional, with some characters voices completely inappropriate and some frequent dips in audio quality. For the first time in my life, I was forced to change the dub track, because I didn’t feel like the English voice artists were doing the game justice. The soundtrack is a standard playlist that you would expect to find in a game of the same genre, with very few tracks, apart from the excellent theme song, standing out as memorable compositions. On the positive side, the shopping centres play licensed tracks from other games, so it was a positive surprise to hear the theme from Conception II – Children of the Seven Stars during my first hour playing the game.
Overall, Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed is a unique but flawed action game. While it has a heavy emphasis on open world exploration and combat, it lacks the solid battle mechanics and differing types of gameplay that would make it enjoyable. While it is by no means a bad title, there is a distinct lack of challenge and innovation, and the heavy focus on the removal of clothing leaves you in no doubt as to the true audience of the game.