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Game Info:

Ogre Tale
Developed By: MAGES, Inc.
Published By: Degica
Released: August 20, 2020
Available On: Windows PC (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One coming soon)
Genre: Action Beat 'em up
ESRB Rating: Not Rated (yet?)
Number of Players: 1-3 local or online multiplayer (mix and match)
Price: $19.99

Thank you Degica for sending us this game to review!

When I first heard MAGES was making a new game, I assumed it was another visual novel, since that's what they are most famous for. Looking deeper, it turns out they also sell a line of quite good action games, of which this one is their newest entry. Looking for something different to play through, I was eager to check it out.

Ogre Tale is the tale of three sister ogres, who, as members of the Oni clan, are distant descendants of the great and beautiful Iroha, who was shamefully defeated by the hero of the Momotaro clan, whom they have since been taught to hate for generations. The two clans were supposed to remain perpetually at war, keeping balance in the world; this ended when the Oni clan was defeated. Now, hundreds of years later, the three sisters, Hana, Ran, and Yume, seek to finally exact that revenge.

It's a simple revenge tale really, and the developers know this - so rather than take it seriously, they are as humorously light-hearted and over-the-top as possible. Puns, jokes, references to other games and media, and forth-wall breaking are par for the course in this short and sweet story. They even make fun of themselves, poking at their other popular beat 'em up game, Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds. It also helps that your grandfather is Iroha (the same woman who was defeated all those years ago) that has been reincarnated as a cat.

Ogre Tale
Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent pixel art; good music and sound effects; fun beat 'em up action; very humorous story and localization that smashes the fourth wall into tiny little pieces
Weak Points: Relatively short (5-ish hours); a few interface quirks that hopefully get patched out
Moral Warnings: Main characters are all Ogres (Japanese demons); their family is trying to get revenge on a hero family that defeated them several hundred years ago; reincarnation mentioned; some curse words, like 'b*tch', '*ss', 'h*ll', and 'sh*t'; lots of animated violence; enemies are often mythical and include ghosts, statues, and undead; one undead enemy looks really gross; a few bosses are rather large chested, and cleavage is shown; one player character uses a whip and sways her hips dramatically

The meat of what's on offer is the beat 'em up action. Here it does not disappoint. It took me a few minutes to get a good feel for the action and combos; you can juggle quite aggressively if you mash the 'Ultimate Attack' button repeatedly. Other enemies require you to jump up and knock them out of the sky, or some combination to whittle their health bar to nothing. Of course, they are trying to do the same to you.

Controls are quite simple; you have a 'Normal Attack', 'Long Range Attack', 'Ultimate Attack', and 'Guard'. These map to the face buttons on a typical controller. The analog stick or D-pad (I recommend the latter) works to move you around, duck, jump, or dash if you double-tap. While it is possible to play this with a keyboard, a controller (Xbox compatible) is strongly encouraged.

After you choose one of the three characters to play as (all are fun, but I like Hana the best), you can then setup your equipment. Each character basically has one weapon they can use; whips, knives, or clubs. Some weapons have up to six slots for jewels or talismans. Jewels raise stats, and can be replaced, even though you might lose any previous jewels in that slot. Talismans grant skills, but they are permanently locked to that weapon afterwards. Choose carefully! Thankfully, enemies drop a lot of weapons, and you can even buy and sell for more - but shops don't seem to help much later in the game.

After equipping, you can start your current or any previous main mission, which moves the story along, or one of many side missions, which the game explicitly says are there for powering up. They tend to be shorter than normal levels (with notable exceptions), and open up as you complete story missions. Even regular missions aren't too long, though there is banter before, during, and after that can sometimes be quite funny.

As you enter a room, an unsubtitled Japanese character appears on screen, that presumably means something like 'start'. Enemies soon appear and you get to hit them until they fall over. When you clear the screen, you see another Japanese character, and the fighting stops. You then can choose which direction to go in to find more rascals to beat up. These bogeys can range from strange blobs to large, muscular humanoids to floating ghost women or even zombie-like monsters. There is a decent variety; some use melee attacks while others are ranged. Mini-bosses and large final bosses can be on some levels; it seems to vary quite a bit. Most levels aren't exceptionally long, even after dialogue.

Ogre Tale
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 56%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 6/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 6/10

Again, that dialogue can be pretty funny. It ranges from puns to things like pop culture references like 'the whole falling to the dark side and powering up thing is so cliché!' to terrible forth-wall breaking comments like 'So...much...text...' and references to other games like Metal Gear. There is a fair amount of cursing present, with words like '*ss', 'h*ll', 'b*tch', 'sh*t', and so on. One girl offers to undress, but thankfully another one points out that 'Stop, you'll drive up our age rating!'

As expected, there is a lot of violence. I haven't seen a beat 'em up game yet where you don't beat up bad guys. I did not notice blood or gore. As previously mentioned, you are a team of ogres trying to get revenge on the other clan. Ogres are demon-like creatures, and while you do look humanoid, at least one of the sisters has horns. Another of the sisters sways her hips quite dramatically while walking around, putting on that feminine charm for sure. She also uses a whip as her primary weapon. At least one enemy has an unusually large bosom with visible cleavage. Other enemies include various mythical creatures like ghosts, statues, and undead zombies. One of the undead enemies attacks others with tendrils that come out of its flesh, and it's pretty gross looking.

Ogre Tale is a simple yet fun beat 'em up that came at just the right time for me. I needed something quick in between some of these large RPG games I've been playing, and this fit the bill quite nicely. It also supports co-op play, for up to three players. I played locally with my son, and it worked great. Online is supported as well, though I found no one during the prerelease window. The only gotcha is a bug I reported and they promised to fix; weapon drops seem to only happen for player one in local co-op play. If the appropriateness issues and relative length (you can beat it in a few hours) aren't a major issue, Ogre Tale is lots of fun.

About the Author

Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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