Akaneiro: Demon Hunters Review - Red Goes Hunting

Andy Chalk | 16 Feb 2013 16:00
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The game can be played through a web browser or a stand-alone client and the two are almost indistinguishable, except that the browser version suffers far more from Akaneiro's greatest weakness: lag. Because it's an online game, with all the important business handled by a remote server, your gameplay experience is very subject to the whims of lag, slow connections and server issues. Loading a single level can take well over a minute - which is a lot longer than it sounds when you're waiting for your game to start - the delay between swing and impact can be anywhere from virtually non-existent to a full second or more (although pauses of that length are quite rare) and sooner or later you will be killed by a lag spike. You may also find yourself in the frustrating position of losing earned experience because of a server disconnect; experience isn't awarded until you've completed a mission, so if you get dumped just before you strike the final blow against the boss, it all disappears into the ether.

The term "free-to-play" tends to conjure thoughts of "pay to win" (or "free to suck") but in this regard Akaneiro seems to have found the sweet spot between giving a leg up to those willing to pay while not putting the screws to people who don't. Karma not only restores health, it also serves as the in-game currency, used for everything from buying and selling items to reviving your character after death, unlocking new areas and removing level caps. You can buy karma in amounts from $5 to $20 if you want to ratchet up your skills and equipment in a hurry, but the game is perfectly playable without spending a dime. You'll have to grind a bit if you don't want to pay, but the variable difficulty levels in each area and the commensurately higher rewards keep things moving ahead at a decent clip, so unless you blow your karma extremely injudiciously, you won't need to spend hours hammering the same levels over and over again.

Despite being in full release, Akaneiro is still very much a work in progress. Crafting and co-op play, both added to the feature list thanks to the successful Kickstarter, haven't yet been implemented, enemies are still being balanced, the chat in the stand-alone client doesn't work and player records aren't being tracked. Foreground objects like trees don't always go sufficiently transparent when they block your view, leaving you unable to see what you're doing or who you're smacking around, and there's currently no manual or in-game guide aside from a link to the Spicy Horse forums. There are also rare bouts of general wonkiness, usually attributable to the game's browser-based design: your cache didn't clear, your buffer didn't buff, that sort of thing - frustrating, but not game-breaking.

Even so, Akaneiro: Demon Hunters as it stands is a solid Action-RPG in a pleasingly unique setting, made even more appealing by its great potential for future growth and improvement. And it's free! If you have any interest in the genre at all, there is absolutely no reason not to try it, and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised when you do.

Bottom Line: Akaneiro: Demon Hunters is no Diablo III, but it's a surprisingly robust experience and proof that free-to-play gaming doesn't have to be second-rate.

Recommendation: Check it out! It's free, after all, and unless you have a deep-rooted dislike of the Action-RPG genre, it's more than good enough to be worth your time.

Game: Akaneiro: Demon Hunters
Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: Spicy Horse
Publisher: Spicy Horse
Platform(s): PC

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