AKIBA'S TRIP: Hellbound and Debriefed (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 08.07.2022

Review for AKIBA

Akiba's Trip: Hellbound and Debriefed is brought to Nintendo Switch by Acquire, XSeed Games and Marvelous Europe as an HD remaster of the original Akiba's Trip on PlayStation Portable released in 2011. It sees the protagonist, whose name is chosen by the player, witness something horrific in Akihabara and as a consequence be turned into a Shadow Soul, a non-human creature who is immensely powerful but weak to sunshine. In trying to find answers about what happened while doing errands for the mysterious National Intelligence and Research Organisation (NIRO), a secret group allegedly tasked with protecting Japan from harm, missions are taken on to bring down the evil Shadow Souls once and for all.

Essentially being a vampire and needing to expose the other non-human creatures to make them disappear by taking off their clothes is certainly an interesting concept. The way Akiba's Trip: Hellbound and Debriefed starts adds to the layers of mystery that are so deep that when they get peeled back it's hard not to be shocked by the plot revelations. Having little choice but to join NIRO as a way to escape death, there's certainly a feeling of being forced into the situation. It sounds simple: search for and discover intel for NIRO while keeping the streets safe. The group's initial headquarters, which change far later in the game, are tucked in a side street with limited resources inside. There is a strange group called Freedom Fighters who help NIRO out, but in the surrounding streets there are plenty of shops to buy both items and weapons, as well as the all-important quest giving Info Broker in a side alley.

Main quests usually happen through natural story progression as events unfold, however quite a few can be obtained by speaking with this mysterious guy who might not be the most savoury person but the jobs he has result in much needed money. That and depending which faction the job is for will directly affect how both NIRO and the Shadow Souls regard the player. Initially NIRO has to be helped, but later missions come from Shadow Souls, sometimes money is needed and they pay a tidy sum, so relations with each group becomes fluid and down to personal choice.

Screenshot for AKIBA'S TRIP: Hellbound and Debriefed on Nintendo Switch

Even with a tutorial on how to latch onto an enemy and start removing their clothes it can take time to successfully pull off the technique. To do so requires visiting The Master, whose tastes are on the mature side and often questionable in morality. This high-ranking person's identity is hidden, and he has minions who will do the practice fighting. There are several points in the game where a new fight technique must be mastered in order to move on with the story. The fighting techniques probably are more essential in the higher difficulties; certainly in easy mode the enemies are quick to be defeated, leaving more time to focus on the story. Outside of mandatory story events The Master's minions can be fought any time, there is even a tournament to participate in for high rewards if successful.

Screenshot for AKIBA'S TRIP: Hellbound and Debriefed on Nintendo Switch

Levelling up happens through fighting; again, in the easiest difficulty grinding is rarely required, but if a boss is too hard it does not take long to get strong enough. Alternatively, it can be a case of making sure the best equipment is worn. This has to be bought using money or stealing clothes from enemies - however the correct skill book must be acquired or else the clothes will automatically shred to pieces rather than be stolen. Fulfilling quests results in monetary rewards, as does selling items. Whenever an enemy is defeated they drop various items that are automatically collected. Selling duplicates is an easy way to get more money outside of quests. It may seem tedious but later in the game it is easy to accumulate dozens of some items. Not all have high value, but selling enough lower value items can provide enough funds to purchase a desired item. It is not just weapons whose strength matter; shirts, trousers, skirts and more are all important.
On the first playthrough starting as a guy is mandatory, and for a good part of the game skirts and dresses cannot be worn. After a particular scenario the option to wear those items is unlocked, allowing for a greater variety and if a female protagonist is preferred, the character can be female on a second playthrough. The wardrobe change ability is functional and fun, looking good too. Sometimes particular clothes are needed to complete quests and take time to collect. It certainly adds creativity to the game which is a fun element.

Screenshot for AKIBA'S TRIP: Hellbound and Debriefed on Nintendo Switch

The game is not solely based on removing or acquiring clothes. The level of intrigue in both the NIRO and Shadow Souls and is unravelled a bit at a time. When major plot points hit home the shock from them changes the perspective of the whole game; they are that mind blowing and unexpected. A key decision then has to be made on whom to support: this is where it matters what reputation has been built with each faction. Doing side quests for the enemy can be a good thing not only for the cash reward but it may make them more amenable late game. The ability to decide whom to undertake missions for places part of the outcome of the game in the player's hands. There is no right or wrong path, all paths are an option and do have an impact on how some of the game will play out. Friendships are formed but some get broken when true identities are revealed later in the game. The level of manipulation and deception is impressive.

Saving often is a must as there is no telling when an enemy can outmanoeuvre and result in a defeat; the resulting game over can lose all saved items, not all of which are easy to come by. It is also essential because there is no autosave and unfortunately during gameplay the game crashed at least twice, the first incident resulted in repeating a significant amount of gameplay due to only being able to save at certain points. Later updates since the review playthrough may have fixed some of the issues. At the beginning, having several locations it can be a bit hard to remember what shops are in each quarter, but clocking up game time breeds familiarity.

Screenshot for AKIBA'S TRIP: Hellbound and Debriefed on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

An intriguing plot coupled with a focus on questioning morality and who is truly an enemy, Akiba's Trip: Hellbound and Debriefed brings the original story to a new generation of gamers. Bugs, the lack of autosave which does seem a little odd for a remaster and some clunky game mechanics aside, there are easily over twenty hours of game time in the fairly realistic portrayal of Tokyo's Akihabara region. Replay value for those who played the original will vary depending on nostalgia feel, but a second playthrough is highly appealing for completionists and those who want to make different choices in their gameplay since supporting a faction does influence in the end story.

Developer

Acquire

Publisher

Marvelous

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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