Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines PS Vita Review

March 15, 2015

It’s always a little depressing turning on my PS Vita these days, purely because I increasingly have little occasion to do so. Big releases are few and far between on the platform, somewhat forgotten alongside the runaway success of its bigger brother, the PS4, and its rival, the 3DS. However, quite different to its original goal of providing console-quality experiences on a portable device, the Vita has become a center for little strange gems, slightly left-of-center. Oreshika: Tainted Bloodline is certainly as strange as Danganronpa and Murusaki Baby, but it’s also much larger in scope. A strange RPG/family simulator with Okami-style painterly graphics, it’s hard to pin down Oreshika or recommend it to a wide audience, but it is definitely worth checking out.

One of the first tasks the game puts before you is creating a character – but more than that, a bloodline. Facial features you select (or have selected from you by a dodgy camera-assisted photo analyser) are passed on from your character to their family members and descendants. So, if you’ve always wanted to raise the stakes of your hideous user-created monstrosities, now you have entire clans to disfigure.

That is the central premise of Oreshika, after all – fostering and expanding a clan of wronged medieval Japanese, blamed for failing to protect the treasures of the emperor. They’re all executed – but not for long, as God’s second-in-command descends from the heavens to offer your family a second chance. She can resurrect each of them, but only for two years of life, and this applies to their children as well. Accepting the offer, the array of bleached skulls is transformed into your longevity-challenged clan, leaving your revenge up to you, as well as your family’s future.


The strange set-up is perfectly engineered for Oreshika’s strange brand of RPG. The actual gameplay comes in the form of a standard dungeon crawler – you take a party of characters into several weirdly themed dungeons (one filled with cats and over-sized sushi dishes springs to mind) to fight ‘Oni’ demons and level-up your characters.

The battle system is your standard turn-based affair, with a little spice thrown into the mix with different classes that are more or less effective at taking on rows or arrangements of Oni, as they line up in groups. The actual gameplay in these sections does feel pretty bog-standard, even introducing the ability to auto-play battles, or have your commands restricted by your character’s suggestions. Slot reels roll on-screen before each fight, determining what your reward will be by the end – from money to rare equipment. There’s always an enemy ‘leader’ among your foes in each fight, and they’re the only ones who will cough up your reward, but defeating them will instantly end the battle. So, you’re left with a choice of fighting everybody and collecting more experience, or focusing strictly on the leader if a particularly good piece of loot is up for grabs (who is often able to escape battle very easily).

Defeating baddies nets you not only experience points but devotion points, which feeds into the other half of Oreshika – the family simulator. As you learn at the start of the game, each member of your family has a brief two years to live, and fighting in dungeons can often eat away months of their life-span at a time. To continue your revenge further than a couple of hours of gameplay, you’ll need to reproduce and have your heirs continue your mission, but as a side effect of your clan’s curse, you can’t just mate with mortals. No, you’ll need to start boning gods, and devotion is the ticket to gaining their affection and getting into their pants, a kind of currency to earn their favour. The more devotion you have, the better gods you’ll be able to woo, and the more hardy offspring can be produced.


Ultimately, your enjoyment of Oreshika is entirely dependent on how much time you’re willing to put in. Up front, the game asks you how you want to play it – offering options to vary the difficulty and breadth of content to accommodate 30-hour to 100-hour playthroughs. Some will suffer from information overload with the game’s opening hours, as you sit through several lengthy (though well animated) anime cutscenes that explain the story, then even more cutscenes and tutorials which explain to you the different fundamentals of the game. Buying into the strange concept and utilizing your time wisely in each generation, growing your family by mating with stronger and stronger deities and defeating harder dungeons, does become an addictive experience. The story, which isn’t as involving as I had hoped, despite its nice presentation, isn’t really the driving force behind your progress – it’s your own investment in your clan’s future.

Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines does a lot of really cool things for the RPG genre, in a relatively cheap (AU $29.95) JRPG package on the PS Vita. By definition it is a niche title, and many will be turned off by the game’s opening hours, but if you’re looking for an enjoyable time-sink to give you a reason to switch on your long-neglected portable console, Oreshika is definitely deserving of a chance.


Weird but successful mix of dungeon crawler and family simulator


Information overload during the first few hours | Dungeon crawling is pretty standard

Overall Score: