Android action and the meaning of life?
Rengoku: The Tower Of Purgatory, or as I will refer to it from now on, Rengoku is a third person action adventure game on the PSP from developers Hudson Soft. The story revolves around an android named A.D.A.M. as he questions his existence and, in doing so, battles other androids on his journey to the top of the eight floored tower, in search of the answers to why he is here and the meaning of it all.
The game adopts the third person over the shoulder perspective that seems to be favoured in many PSP adventure games nowadays and why not, I say, when it seems to work so well. The player takes control of A.D.A.M. and guides him through every room on each floor which, after beating an end of level boss, unlocks the door to the next floor of the tower so the player can progress. I recently reviewed another game from Hudson Soft on the site, Dungeon Explorer, and one of the problems that plagued that game rears itâ€™s head once more in Rengoku. That problem is that every floor of the tower looks almost identical. This would not have been such a huge problem if the rooms had actually looked interesting. Instead, what we are given is numerous empty rooms with extremely plain, nondescript textures on the walls, ceilings and floors. The contents of the rooms are limited to piles of breakable crates and enemy androids. It really makes you feel like you are making no real progress through the game as you trudge through the levels that appear no different from the last.
The crates that fill some of the rooms are not just set dressing. They can be smashed to reveal pickups, be they canisters that replenish your health, or one of numerous weapons that can be picked up throughout the game. The weapons are one of the things that Rengoku has done quite well. The very first room on each of the eight levels is a small room with two teleporters, one to the floor below and one to the floor above, which only becomes active once that floor has been cleared. Also in this teleport room is a device which can be activated by tapping the X button. This opens up the menu system with one of the options being equip. From there you can attach weapons or enhancements to various points of your androids body. The most important of those being the weapons, be it melee or ranged weapons such as swords, pistols or shotguns, amongst many others. One of the funny points to this is that you can attach a gun to your androids head and he then walks about in the game with a gun barrel poking out of the top of his head. You may think, at the beginning of the game, that it is being overly generous with the weapon drops but not long after that you soon realize that this is not the case. When you are beaten in a fight, you lose all of your equipped weapons, so you should try and stockpile them when you have the chance.
Controlling A.D.A.M. in the game can be kind of hit and miss. In general its fine using the analogue nub to move around. It does the job, but can feel a little stiff and awkward at times and the fact that there are no controls to look around does not help. Another problem being the lock on and dodge system. Locking onto an enemy is not the problem itself, you simply face in his general direction and tap the left shoulder button. While you are locked onto a bad guy, you can dodge or charge at him by tapping the direction you wish to on the d-pad and this is where the problem lies. You have to move your thumb from the analogue control to the d-pad to do what could essentially be done using the analogue pad already. Because of that, I found myself ignoring the dodge controls altogether. Once I had locked on, I preferred to stay on the analogue nub and dodge by backing away instead. Using the analogue nub for both may have worked better, moving as normal and dodging when locked on, as it just feels a little awkward moving from one set of controls to the other depending on what you are doing at the time.
The controls for attacking on the other hand are spot on and, bearing in mind that you can have three weapons equipped at one time, it could have led to another control disaster. But it is well handled using the face buttons with triangle representing the head attachment slot and the circle and square buttons representing the appropriate hand. This means that you can easily use any of the weapons you have equipped with a tap of a single button, negating the need for a weapon selection control. So in general, the controls are pretty good but with a minor problem which, if you can overlook, is not a huge problem.
The game does offer a challenge, with some of the fights proving tough enough to make you think twice about rushing in arms flailing. Instead, it pays to think about what weapons to use and when to attack. But the challenge it offers in these fights soon begins to lose its appeal when you realize that nothing new is going to happen, and that you are going from room to room fighting what is essentially the same bad guy over and over again. So, although the fights are a good challenge, the repetitive nature of them soon gets a little boring.
Graphics wise, despite the game looking the same throughout, other than changing the colours, it doesnâ€™t look all that bad. The same can be said for the androids themselves. Sure, they all look pretty similar apart from differing colours, but again they actually look quite good. It is not the best looking game out there but itâ€™s far from the worst. The same can be said for the sound, it is not great but it does what it needs to do.
So overall Rengoku is pretty much a run of the mill action adventure game .But with the fights being the same over and over, much like the scenery with one room looking almost identical to the next, it falls a little short. With more variation in the fights and scenery, this could have been a much more enjoyable game. As it is, what you get is a pretty uninspiring third person action game with the negative points outweighing the positive. To sum it up, Rengoku is not a terrible game but there is a lot of room for improvement.
Rengoku The Tower Of Purgatory is available for download from the PSN store for the price of Â£8.69