A titanic threat to humankind.
Tecmo-Koei, once known almost exclusively for its Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors (including spin offs and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms classics), has, in recent years, expanded its repertoire of hack-and-slash games to reach into other sources for inspiration. It began with Koei’s foray into Dynasty Warriors Gundam, which produced some of Koei’s best Warriors gameplay. Soon to follow was One Piece, Arslan: Warriors of Legend, and Fist of the North Star, to name a few. Next up on Koei’s list: the popular Attack on Titan.
For those gamers not in the anime and/or manga know, Attack on Titan is the story of Eren Jaeger and his fellow scouts as they battle the largesse and terrifying Titans. Humankind, they believe, is ravaged outside of the few enormous walls barricading the remainder of the human race. With the enormous, fleshy and grinning Titans roaming outside of the walls, Eren and the military must fight for their lives in order to protect the ones they love. But what secrets the Titans hold is cause for quite a few questions.
The great news about Koei’s Attack on Titan is twofold. First: the game is pretty faithful to the tale of Attack on Titan; second: even if you’re not a fan of the anime or manga (or if you’ve been interested but never had the chance to get into it), Koei’s newest title presents a narrative both easy to follow and close to canon. The presentation, too, is excellent, and the visuals take on the aesthetics of the anime. For Koei, Attack on Titan brings about a bloody upgrade to the general PG violence of most Warriors games. In fact, the gore is so prevalent that Koei allows the user to turn off the bloodshed. KO’s are a thing of the past.
If I’ve piqued your interest, listen closely. Koei’s Attack on Titan gameplay is extremely refreshing but not without its own set of problems. Traditional Warriors games released by Koei involve the mindless slayings of thousands upon thousands of grunts by combining the square and triangle (PlayStation controls) buttons. Occasionally, you’ll tap the circle for your musou or x to jump, but that’s the gameplay. In Attack on Titan, thanks to the manga’s unique premise, the gameplay is different from past Koei titles.
Players traverse the maps either on foot or by grappling throughout buildings, trees, hills, or whatever else is in the way. Each character comes equipped with dual blades, a propelling system, and a canister set (in layman’s terms) in order to soar and battle. By double tapping x, your character will jump and boost forward; by tapping square, your character will propel through his/her scenery. Flying across any given map within a matter of moments is one of my favorite aspects of the game.
Combat in Attack on Titan involves patience and perfection. In order to attack a Titan, the player must hit R1 to lock on to his/her target. From there, the square button latches your propelling hooks into the targeted section of the Titan and pulls the player in. With enough speed and the proper targeting, the player can destroy body parts or kill a Titan (with a nape [of the neck] attack). Be careful, however; if you miss or fly off target, the Titans can easily grab you and deplete most of your health.
Luckily, that’s where provisions come into play. Each character comes stocked with a set of health potions, fresh blades, propel canisters, and disorienting grenades. By completing distress signals mid-mission, the player can save suppliers or friendly soldiers, either obtaining extra items or partnering for combat. As you play, your blades will dull, your fuel will deplete, and your health will diminish; supplies are essential to survival.
In order to break up the monotony of slaying the variously sized Titans continuously, a series of distress signals will appear on map. Completing these will, as I’ve already indicated, allow the player to obtain extra supplies or a new ally. Unfortunately, the good majority of these distress signals require the player to simply kill more Titans – but this time with a brief time limit. As the player progresses through the story, side quests, expeditions, and more become available to conquer. Again, however, these modes are hindered by the standard “slay the Titans” objectives and help the distress beacon soldiers. There are segments in the game that allows the player to battle as a Titan, but these are few and far between, and in the style of regular Koei games.
Outside of combat, the player can upgrade his/her equipment, buy upgradeable materials (though many of these materials will either drop from dismembering an appropriately marked body part on a Titan or for successfully completing missions and/or objectives). Also included in these mission interims is the ability to talk to each character and further the narrative (though this is not required). Still, with the Japanese voice acting preventing me from reading too much mid-combat, catching up on the plot in the interims was helpful.
And therein lies my biggest concern: the voice acting. Forget your biases toward English or Japanese voice acting. It doesn’t matter if you like or hate one. In a game like Attack on Titan (or any Koei game, really), dialogue mid-level is critical. If you miss one line of dialogue, you could potentially fail a mission. I did so numerous times in Samurai Warriors 4 and other similar titles. Fortunately, I was good enough in Attack on Titan that I could navigate the levels successfully, but I had to have missed a good 50% of the dialogue amidst combat.
Attack on Titan offers players an incredible amount of content. With numerous game modes, an intriguing story, unique gameplay, interesting characters, and a plethora of side quests/objectives, Attack on Titan is loaded with well over 70 hours of gameplay (and that’s probably on the low end of estimates). While the voice acting does inhibit the game, and while the combat can grow stale with overuse, navigating the city walls with such speed and taking down the Titans is pretty fun and well executed. Attack on Titan is definitely not a game for everyone, but fans of or those interested in the manga/anime should try this Koei experiment out. It will certainly be a unique one.