I’ve been wondering if I should start reviewing the number of imported games that I own. It’s not like I have that many of them to begin with but I’ve never felt like the proper person to criticize imported games. Why? Because I simply can’t read or understand Japanese. The gameplay portion of the game may trascend any language but if the whole storytelling gets literally lost in translation, should I be even reviewing the game? I came to the conclusion that… yes. Well, I’m sure that there will be many people out there that loves japanese videogames but doesn’t know a word of Japanese and they might deem useful the view of someone like them has on those imported games.
And now it’s when the whole rant gets absurdly comical because the asian version of Deemo: The last recital, the game I chose as the first “import briefiew”, is completely in english. Enjoy.
Deemo: The last recital is a rythm game but, while Guitar Hero was obviously all about the guitars, Deemo decides to focus on the piano. The gameplay is very simple in concept, everything in the game is touch controlled. During the songs, notes will be falling off the top of the vita screen and you’ll have to touch them as they go over a line situated at the bottom. If some notes appear to be yellow, you can just touch the first and then drag the finger over the following ones without having to tap on them. And that’s all there is to the way you play the songs.
It requires you to have fast fingers, good coordination between them and a good sense of rythm but it’s not like those games that love to throw curve balls at you and, in the middle of a fast section, be thrown 5 different kind of notes so that you’re not sure if you’re supposed to touch, pinch, keep pressed or sweep your finger. Deemo has a much simplistic approach and in its simplicity resides its beauty I think.
Now, let’s talk about the story because yes, there’s one. It’s not a Visual Novel kind of deal like in Persona 4 Dancing all night. If I were to compare the storytelling of Deemo to some other game, it’d be Journey. Like in that game, the game is very sparse on words. You’ll be given some beautiful anime-style cutscenes with very little dialog (if any at all) and you’ll have to form an idea on the story with your own thoughts on what you’ve seen.
At the start of the game you’ll see a girl fall down a hole and into a strange room where she meets an enigmatic creature called Deemo. You’ll be Deemo playing songs on a magical piano because that makes a tree grow. Your mission would be making the tree grow high enough so that little girl could climb back out of the hole.
I mentioned how the cutscenes were beautifully drawn but really all the visuals on the game I found beautiful. While playing songs the aesthetic is rather minimalistic and almost monochromatic, but the menus, the cutscenes and everything else is just gorgeous.
Arguably, the most important part of a rythm game are the songs. At the start of the game there won’t be many but they’ll unlock to a healthy sum as you make the tree grow. Additionally, there will be hidden songs in the “oveworld” background, so be sure to press on everything that looks interesting and you may get a nice surprise.
As for the style of the songs, even if all of the songs are pretty much piano focused, it manages to extend to different genres. From lounge to dubstep and also getting into something more classical. There’s variety and more importantly, quality.
It should be mentioned that even though there’s plenty of downloadable song packs, they’re only available in the respective regions of the games so, you won’t be able to purchase one if you can’t access those foreign stores.
Things I liked
- The music: This is a very subjective matter I’m sure but some of the tracks on this game I’ve absolutely loved. I never heard any of the songs in Deemo but now I find them playing them outside of the game quite often and even now as I’m writting the review. They’re that good.
- Gameplay: Similar to the Taiko games the control scheme for Deemo is very simple but being that simple makes you focus on the most important part which is the timing. Also, and of course, the responsiveness of the touch controls is pitch perfect, if you screw up it’s only your fault.
- Charming: The way the story is told, the beautiful the illustrations, the elegant presentation… There was some love put into the game and it shines through this.
Things I didn’t
- Grinding: You’ll find yourself having to replay the same songs over and over in order to make the tree grow until the next point when it starts unlocking more stuff. If you’re a great player maybe you won’t be faced with this problem because there’s plenty of rewards to those who manage to not miss a single note but, to those not good enough like me, you’ll have to have some patience.
Who’d like this?
This game was worth it for me just alone with the songs and composers that it introduced to me. I loved the music of Deemo and, for a rythm game I feel like that’s very important. Feel free to check the soundtrack for the game, judge by yourself and know that it will be accompanied by a very competent and charming little game.