The Tale of Onogoro Review

• written by Krist Duro
The Tale of Onogoro Review

While its sublime visuals, engrossing puzzles and memorable boss encounters show glimpses of greatness, inconsistent gameplay and an overreliance on excessive dialogue undermine this ambitious game

Japanese developer Amata K.K seeks to create something truly unique and story-driven with The Tale of Onogoro. I was really excited to play and review this game, as I'd loved the previous game made by the same developer, Last Labyrinth, (take a look at our review here), but that excitement kinda faltered away after playing it for a while.

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The Tale of Onogoro transports you to the floating sky island of Onogoro, where magic is real and feudal Japan meets steampunk technology. You take control of an unnamed god or Kami summoned by priestess Haru to stop the villainous Masatake from unleashing chaos across the land. Masatake has weakened Haru by removing her limbs, binding her to a magical stone. Working together, you must restore Haru's power to defeat legendary monsters called Kami and Masatake's forces plaguing the island. An image showcasing the game described in this article.

From the start, Onogoro strives to immerse you in its beautifully realized world. Environments feel genuinely lived-in and detailed, from mystical forests to industrial zones. Areas change dramatically as the story progresses, each featuring striking visual aesthetic. Best of all, Haru and enemies appear strikingly animated. Overall presentation makes Onogoro's world supremely immersive.

Much of The Tale of Onogoro involves puzzle solving. You wield Celestial Weapons - steam-powered guns that absorb elemental energies to interact with the world. Say you need to light up a "beacon" to open a door. Well, you can absorb some fire from a fire stone you find in the level and shoot at the beacon to light it up. Basically this is how pretty much all of the puzzles are presented. There's an obstacle that requires a specific elemental "bullet", absorb that and shoot it at the obstacle. Puzzles start simply but increase dramatically in complexity, combining abilities in intricate ways. Later puzzles encompass grand scales, continually refreshing the formula. Solving each conundrum provides immense satisfaction due to ingenious, multi-step designs that encourage experimentation.

An image showcasing the game described in this article.

Combat arises periodically involving smaller enemies and massive Kami boss encounters. While battles remain straightforward, Kami battles prove immensely challenging through clever mechanics. Learning patterns and utilizing all tools available makes overcoming each beast incredibly thrilling. Combat maintains excitement throughout, not only cause it's fun to shoot at these little strange creatures, but because at the same time you need to make sure that Haru, who is bound to a rock, is not in the line of fire. So you will constantly have to move her around while absorbing elemental thingies and shooting those towards the enemies.

However, The Tale of Onogoro falters in one key area. An overreliance on extensive dialogue sequences hampers pacing terribly. You spend an excessive amount time passively listening to Haru just talking and giving tons of, honestly, uninteresting exposition. During these sequences, gameplay grinds to a halt. You can always skip these sequences, but then you wouldn't have any idea what was happening in the world.

In terms of navigation you have the usual things like teleporting and smooth locomotion and I found that they both work well. Moving Haru with Celestial Weapons, on the other hand, involves some unintuitive grabbing motions. There's this sequence early on in the game where a portal opens up and starts sucking Haru and her rock. Of course, I locked onto the rock and, in my mind, if I yanked the controller back, that would translate to the rock moving backward. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that and I had to find that out by reading a tutorial in the menus cause I was constantly failing this seemingly unimportant scene. What you have to do is that once you grab hold of the rock, you can use the face buttons to move the rock back and forth. How an I supposed to do that at the same time while my thumb is also on the analog controlling my movement? You can sit still and use the buttons, but that leaves you open to enemy attacks which happens quite a lot later in the game.

An image showcasing the game described in this article.

The Tale of Onogoro shows glimmers of brilliance, but misses the mark of greatness due to misguided priorities. Its stumbles highlight the difficulty of blending gameplay and story seamlessly in VR. With refining development could cultivate Onogoro into something truly special. For now, it settles as an imperfect yet still compelling journey if you can overlook its chronic issues. Having said all that, I still would recommend giving this game a try. Thanks for reading!

The game was reviewed on a Quest 3 using a review copy provided by the PR. The Tale of Onogoro is out now on Meta Quest, PSVR and PCVR.

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