The Watchers oversee lost souls and help them crossover from this life into the next. Oninaki is an action role-playing game developed by Tokyo RPG Factory and published by Square Enix for the Nintendo Switch. I bought this game hoping to play a cool Japanese RPG like the ones I used to play as a kid, and this game did not disappoint. Having a dark atmosphere and story while implementing fun combat mechanics, Oninaki sets itself apart from a lot of JRPGS on the market right now. Oninaki also has a surprising amount of accessibility options that should make this game easy to play for a lot of disabled gamers.
The gameplay in Oninaki mostly consists of defeating monsters called The Fallen, while you explore dungeons and complete story-based missions. By defeating enemies you will gain experience points to upgrade your health, items, and weapons just like most rpgs. However, you will also be fighting enemies in two different planes of existence, The Living World and The Beyond. When you are traveling in The Beyond your character will take more damage and more enemies will appear. To help you on your journey you can gain spirit allies known as Daemons. Daemons take the form of different weapons you can use during combat and you can also learn more about their past lives when you interact with save points.
Oninaki has some great accessibility options for disabled gamers with fine motor skill impairments. The gameplay has easy hack and slash elements and the only time I noticed having trouble was during boss fights. Thankfully there are three different difficulty modes to choose from and easy mode is recommended for those who just want enjoy the story. Easy mode worked best for someone like me with fine motor skill impairments. The A button is used to interact and talk to people, the B button cancels, X&Y are used for attack. The trigger buttons let you do more advanced skills and even things like the directional buttons and the touch pad are utilized. The good news is every single button on the controller can be customized and remapped in Oninaki. Sometimes the weapons you use require different kinds of combat, so it really helps to be able to choose how you use each button. I do have to say that the auto save feature can be a bit spotty. You sometimes don't know where you will end up, starting after you die. Sometimes it could mean coming back to life several areas back before your last battle. I recommend using the manual save areas at street lights and totems. Fast traveling can help you jump to different parts of the map you have already explored and alleviate some of the savepoint problems.
The audio in the game is completely subtitled so deaf players should not have any problems playing Oninaki. This particular translated release of Oninaki does not have an English voice cast and sometimes during the dialogue you will hear Japanese words being said in the background. Don't worry though these moments are only meant to highlight the tone of scene, but they are largely unnecessary and don't give much more context then the subtitled dialogue. Oninaki also gives you the option to raise and lower the individual volume levels in the game including dialogue, background noise, and music. Visually speaking the game is dark, but because of the cell-shaded graphics and highlighted objects it's fairly easy to see what's happening. Traveling to The Beyond can darken the screen greatly so disabled gamers with visual impairments lookout. Still, Oninaki does let you adjust battle displays and reminders to your liking. These features should be helpful for disabled gamers with visual impairments.
Oninaki has a heavy atmosphere and a dark story about life and death. Battling monsters in the afterlife is a lot of fun and the customizable controls make combat manageable. Your mileage may vary when it comes to savepoint consistency, but deaf players will not have many obstacles because of the subtitles in the game. The game can get dark at times, but there are some adjustable options for visually impaired players. If you have been looking for a fun JRPG with a good amount of accessibility options then Oninaki is the right game for you.
Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Barrier Free
Fine-Motor Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Auditory Rating: Barrier Free
Released For: Nintendo Switch, PS4
ESRB Rating: M