Review – The Tale of Onogoro

The growing popularity of the Quest 2, the perfect balance between a relatively powerful VR machine with an excellent set of controllers and appealing pricepoint, has allowed developers to come up with new genres, as well as adaptations of tried and true non-VR genres, to the VR world. One such example is the ultra ambitious The Tale of Onogoro, coming from Amata K.K., the same developers behind the pretty decent PSVR title, Last Labyrinth. Their objective was clear: they wanted to create one of the first heavily story-driven, action-adventure anime games for VR consoles. A bold move, which has resulted in a game with a lot of great ideas, most of them hampered by annoying design choices.

The Tale of Onogoro

Screw you, I was watching The Masked Singer!

In this game, you control an unnamed deity who just got summoned to the titular island of Onogoro by a maiden called Haru, a girl who got beaten up by the game’s main villain, who got rid of some of her limbs and tied her up to a magic stone, rendering her defenseless against the sheer amount of kami now scattered throughout the island. You team up with said priestess/waifu to clean the island of all the evil, the traditional anime-esque plot, complete with an insane amount of dialogue and filler, what you would expect from your run-of-the-mill shonen.

The Tale of Onogoro is plastered with cutscenes and dialogue sections, and sadly, that is not one of its strongest points. I’d go as far as to say that you will spend more time stuck in a boring, exposition-heavy dialogue section than the actual game itself, as most of its levels are quite short and easy to complete. They are comprised of simple puzzles, where you need to use your spiritual guns to collect magical energy and shoot it in specific targets, some Portal-inspired sections, as well as the occasional combat section, which will always be pretty simple. The game shines the brightest when you’re fighting humongous, Shadow of the Colossus-esque bosses, but those are few and far between. Let’s just say that, whenever you’re allowed to actually play the game, you’ll have a good time with it.

The Tale of Onogoro Haru

My own VR waifu.

The controls themselves are good. You control your character around with pretty traditional, dual-stick FPS controls, complete with smooth movement and camera controls, although you can’t do both at the same time. It would have been downright irritating if this game was a bit more intense, but that wasn’t the case. Resident Evil 4 VR, this is not. You have a dedicated button to basically summon your spiritual pistol on your hand, which is a bit immersion-breaking, but not that annoying either. Finally, remember to guide Haru to your next destination by carrying her seemingly immovable stone around through the power of the pistol. By no means revolutionary, a bit glitchy, but far from terrible. The gameplay itself is hard to complain about. It’s just hampered by the game’s awful pacing.

The Tale of Onogoro Combat

Combat sections are really simple. No stakes at all.

On the other hand, I have to commend this game’s overall presentation. If it wasn’t for its constant framerate issues, The Tale of Onogoro would have easily been the most visually impressive game available on the Quest 2, and possibly VR in general. It throws into a believable anime world, where immersion is only occasionally hampered by these aforementioned framerate hiccups. Haru, in particular, is superbly well-animated. The voice acting is a mixed bag. It all depends on the language you choose. Japanese? Not to worry, it’s sublime, better than most anime out there. English? Jill Sandwich levels of bad.

The Tale of Onogoro Dialogue

Yes Haru, I know how to pull a trigger. Mindblowing stuff.

There is a lot in The Tale of Onogoro that deserves praise, from its impressive presentation to its overall ambitious format, trying to be a more cinematic and story-focused action-adventure game in a brand new gaming medium. For as much as I think this is a gorgeous game with occasionally good controls and interesting puzzles, the sheer amount of dialogue cutscenes bothered the hell out of me really quickly. Oddly enough, this is the kind of game I’m sure I would have enjoyed a lot more if it wasn’t a VR exclusive.

Graphics: 9.0

If it wasn’t for its constant framerate issues, The Tale of Onogoro would have easily been the most visually impressive game available on the Quest 2, and possibly VR in general.

Gameplay: 7.5

I appreciate the smooth walking movement, camera controls, shooting mechanics and simple puzzle solving. I did not like the clunky “walking+camera” issues and framerate problems, however. There is also a crapton of voice acting, which affects the game’s pacing.

Sound: 7.5

The voice acting isn’t bad if you play it in Japanese. There’s just too much of it, all thanks to the nonsensical amount of cutscenes thrown at you.

Fun Factor: 6.0

For as much as I think that The Tale of Onogoro is stupidly groundbreaking and ambitious for a VR game, its neverending cutscenes and uninteresting plot severely hinder its pacing.

Final Verdict: 7.5

The Tale of Onogoro is available now on Meta Quest 2.

Reviewed on Meta Quest 2.

A copy of The Tale of Onogoro was provided by the publisher.