Long, long ago, on the beloved PlayStation Vita, XSEED made the confusing decision to bring the second game in the Akiba’s Trip series to North America when we hadn’t even seen the first. It’s been nearly seven years since but fans will finally be able to play the game that started it all. Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed laid the groundwork for Undead & Undressed, a game I thoroughly enjoyed, so it was imperative I play the original. For science.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed Review – Welcome to Akihabara
A new type of vampire has taken to lurking in the corners of Akihabara. They call themselves Shadow Souls. Some drain innocent victims of their livelihood in darkened alleys while others blend into the environment and use more subtle ways to collect what they require. The hero of Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is concerned when a friend of his has gone silent. When he heads out to search for his pal, our MC has a near death experience of his own, only to be saved by one of these vampiric creatures. Immediately rescued by a secret government organization working to wipe out the threat, we have one choice: work with them to eradicate the vampires or succumb to our new sun sensitivity.
Clearly we have no choice in the matter. So using our closest allies and any resources offered by the government, it’s up to us to expose this plague for what it is. To do so, we will have to train in the fine art of clothing removal. For when Shadow Souls’ skin is touched by sunlight they will be no more. Under the tutelage of The Master we learn how to remove some of the toughest outfits out there without tearing. But there’s a growing movement inside the Shadow Souls operation. A group that wants to live with humans and not use them as sustenance. Whatever we choose, the residents of Akihabara will live or die by our decision.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed Review – “Should Have Been a Remake” Edition
I stand by this header: this game should have been a remake. We got a remaster with some improved graphics and a full English voice over, which I appreciate. This might be some of my favorite voice over work in recent days. I haven’t screamed at the TV about mispronunciations once. But there are just so many issues I have with the combat system, design problems, and weird glitches that should have put this one in the remake pile.
Starting with the combat system, since that’s where my biggest problems are, I want to address the lack of a targeting system first. When surrounded by a mob, whether it’s five school girls smacking you with rando bags or an entire group of people dressed as frogs, being unable to single out one in the crowd is frustrating. Time after time I’d be ready to strip the final item from a Shadow Soul only to see someone else step in front and ruin my combo. This also leads to hitting innocent bystanders and pulling them into the fight.
Sometimes the wrong button flashes on the screen to perform a strip maneuver. What starts out as a Cross turns into Square for some reason and then my combo breaks. This tends to happen if my camera angle has moved and something like a tree or pole is obstructing a sliver of the view. Annoying but at least it’s not killing my ability to finish the fight.
Another problem lies with the level design and poor spawn points for enemies. When you reach an exit point in each level you simply leave the area and are pushed back onto the map. You don’t have to press a button to confirm that you wish to leave. Couple this with enemies placed too close to one of these exits and you will inevitably fight yourself out of the area. The game doesn’t recognize that you’re brawling to stop this from happening. I’ve had to put down the controller and walk away a few times because I was just about to strip a mini-boss and lost all progress due to it.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed isn’t that great of a story in and of itself. The writing relies way too much on decade old tropes about otaku culture, including some very disturbing and cringy sister dress-up moments that you can’t even skip. Every time I needed to have her try on an outfit for me I felt the need to take a shower. This coming from someone who loves the DOA volleyball games. If that’s not telling, I don’t know what is.
And don’t get me started on the randomly spawning NPCs you need to talk to in order to progress certain quests. I shouldn’t have to load a level multiple times to move the story forward. Neither should I have to speak to everyone on the street to find an NPC. I don’t get how this game was considered for a remaster and not a remake based on so many balancing and performance issues.
I appreciate Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed for spawning a sequel that I fondly remember. I just have an extremely hard time overlooking so many glaring problems that were glossed over to repackage and sell it in this state. Unless you really loved Undead & Undressed or just don’t want a hole in your collection, this is one to pick up on sale.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a PlayStation 5.
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