Tokyo Jungle was the little game that grabbed my interest by the horns at E3 this year. I love crazy games, the weirder the better, and Tokyo Jungle was a strange foreign meal I wanted in my mouth. The whole idea of animals ruling the world is one thing, but you give me the ability to hunt in an abandoned city, and then you mention I’ll be doing it with a toy terrier, I’m in it for the long haul.
Tokyo Jungle‘s story is simple, crazy, and easily believable. The human race has disappeared, and they’ve been gone for quite some time. The cities have become overgrown with vegetation, animals have staked their territorial claim, and pets have become feral after their owners have left them to fend for themselves. The real story lies in historical “Archives” you find throughout the “Survival” mode of the game, I avoided going into great detail to avoid spoilers. You’re welcome.
Tokyo Jungle allows you to play up to 50 different animals, ranging from small chickens and toy pomeranians, to giraffes and saber tooth cats, but they can easily be broken into two groups, predators (carnivores) and grazers (herbivores). Each class has their strengths and weaknesses, carnivores must hunt and eat more but can easily defend themselves, while herbivores eat less, but can rarely defend themselves and must run and hide much more than any sane person would enjoy. The combat system is also very basic, swipe attacks, a dodge, then counters when prompted. As you can imagine, some animals are much stronger than others, so running is a good idea even if you’re a formidable hunter, beagles usually don’t fare well versus tigers for example.
There are essentials two modes to choose from in Tokyo Jungle, Survival or Story, with the majority of your time spent in Survival. In Survival you choose whatever animal you want to survive with and grab “Archives” for Story mode. Story chapters become available only by picking them up in Survival mode. Survival mode also gives you the opportunity to complete challenges, the ever changing “checklist” of things to do in order to earn new animals and clothing. Yes, there is clothing for your animal to wear in Tokyo Jungle. Hats, collars, shirts, and shoes are all wearable by your animal. Clothing isn’t just aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, it also acts as a stat booster and degrades over time. Pets in clothing are funny, pets lurking and hunting in sun hats are down right hilarious.
Story chapters become available after sets of archives have been discovered, you don’t choose what animal to use, and a short story is given before and after each chapter. Story modes are essentially the challenges in Survival mode, just shorter and with an underlying narrative tone. One example is the first chapter where you learn why the pomeranian must leave his home, find food, and then take over a safe place to sleep from a “Fat Cat” boss. These obviously get harder throughout your journey, but it’s actually quite cool learning about how the human race “disappears”.
I know you all have been waiting for this, yes there is mating in Tokyo Jungle. Your animals general lifespan is 15 years, after that, your animal begins to lose stats and eventually will die. Mating is often part of challenges, and isn’t as easy as you’d think. You must first claim the territory, then find a mate. Mates are separated by three distinct groups, desperate, average, and prime, all displayed with hearts above their heads. Prime usually require you to be higher level and will have bright pink hearts floating above their head, while desperate will take anything, and have empty hearts, just like finding a date to high school prom.
With all joking aside, and everything strange going on along with it, Tokyo Jungle is a very solid game, especially for it’s price. It has a strategic way to play, whether it be using stealth wisely, knowing when to attack and when to run, eating only when needed not to deplete the precious resource, all while watching a forever diminishing hunger bar, changing challenges, map events, and toxicity measurements rising and falling in each area. On the outside it looks crazy, on the inside it’s an intricate watch needing to be wound again and again to run, and it can be overwhelming at times.
A lot of the challenges presented in Survival mode are damn near impossible, and will sometimes inconvenience your travels to pick up archives. These may vary between players obviously, but I found it increasingly annoying having to eat over 3,000 cal. on my way to defeat a boss that’s in the opposite direction of my intended point of interest. It almost felt like the game was purposely pulling me away from the archives, beckoning me, “hey, over here, we have credit cards and clothes.” like I was some 80′s high school valley girl, knowing I couldn’t resist such an offer. If you want to progress in the story you must ignore some challenges and head straight to the archives, which just screams Japanese title. Story modes don’t sneak past without some complaints either, without checkpoints, you could be doomed to repeat your mistakes over and over again, another Japanese game trait (Thanks Demon Souls! I’m not smiling right now). This is really where Tokyo Jungle‘s faults end.
Tokyo Jungle is such a well rounded title, with plenty of different styles of play, an intriguing story, and a price that is well worth the price of admission. 50 ridiculous animals to choose from makes every jaunt into Tokyo and it’s changing inhabitants that much more exciting and unpredictable. When the challenges aren’t being annoying as Annoying Orange, they have rewards worth the hassle. It’s just one of those games that you can’t put down, it’s one you want to challenge you. You want to see how well you can do with a certain animal, whether it be run like a little girl, or walk around godlike. Tokyo Jungle looks and sounds as incredibly awesome as it is, if your into dressed up animals fending for themselves in a world full of feral golden retriever packs and possibly dinosaurs…I hope I didn’t give away too much.
You can pick up Tokyo Jungle on PSN now for $15 or $12 if your a PlayStation Plus member.
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