Action Anime Review

AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed – Review

Many moons ago gamers were given the chance to walk around a recreation of Akihabara, strip vampires, and get involved in an Otaku mystery. That title was in fact the sequel to a cult hit which Marvelous have now localized and re-released outside of Japan. This is the tale of AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed.

This One Bites!

AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed puts you in the worn sneakers of a customizable character whose friend has gone missing in the electric capital of the world Akihabara. As “luck” would have it, events transpire and you end up being turned into an Otaku Vampire. Yeah, it’s that kind of game!

Naturally being a vampire you have an aversion to light. Not directly though; it only matters if you’re in undergarments. Of course, that’s how Bram Stoker envisioned Dracula’s offspring!

You pair up with a team of Otaku and a secret government project to take down the more aggressive and dominative vampire clans currently using the streets of Akihabara as a feeding ground and take revenge for your fallen weebs in arms.

AKIBA'S TRIP: Undead and Undressed - Crossing

AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed has multiple narrative routes you can take depending on who you interact with or what missions you take on giving it plenty of legs in terms of how replayable it is. Unfortunately, none of it is really too endearing meaning you’ll question why to bother far too quickly. 

The cast of characters is unremarkable and couldn’t be more cookie-cutter cliche if they tried. On top of that, the main narrative manages to outlive its quirky premise within the opening few hours, especially when it drops a rather “awkward” scene on you early on. 

You visit someone who trains you in the act of “stripping” your foes. What happens is that you accompany your handler who clearly doesn’t want to be there. You get trained under the condition your handler “performs” for this character who paints a female stripper outline.

After the training your handler appears in ripped clothing, clutching her stomach and limping. She doesn’t want to talk about it and it left more than a sinking feeling in my stomach.

AKIBA'S TRIP: Undead and Undressed - Story

The Streets Make me Rage

AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed is a free roam, beat ‘em up with light RPG mechanics and a focus on fashion. Think the Yakuza series, but with shirts being ripped off as a mechanic as well as a plot device. 

Akihabara is split into many different smaller areas rather than one giant map and these are accessed with a map screen. You choose where to go next and appear in that area.

The general ebb and flow of the game involve you taking on tasks either focused on the main story narrative or the plethora of side quests. You’ll be entering the area and performing either a fetch quest, talking to certain people, or tracking down some of your vampiric foes.

The vampires are sneaky sneaks and blend into the general public. Fortunately, you have a handy camera that doesn’t show your prey when a picture is taken. Engage them and you will enter a “combat phase”. 

The combat is 3D real-time with attacks that target the upper or lower body. You can learn different moves throughout the game such as knockdown moves and the like, but for the most part it’s a basic 3D brawler combat engine.

AKIBA'S TRIP: Undead and Undressed - Fight

Clothes are Like Literally My Life

When you have damaged someone’s clothes enough they will start to flash. You hold down the attack button and this will strip them, exposing their skin to sunlight. Remove their upper and lower garments to vanquish or embarrass your foes.

While there are different types of attacks and even weapons, nothing can alleviate the fact the combat looks crap, feels cheap, and is frankly boring.

Wild difficulty spikes mean some fights end in a matter of seconds. At other times they feel painfully drawn out as curiously animated people awkwardly slap each other in the middle of Akihabara and it somehow manages to not be fun.

Clothes are your stats and you need money from quests and enemies to buy them. They also unlock other story paths and unique scenes depending on which cool threads you have and make up the bulk of the collection time dump within this title. On the flip side, it has some really good customization!

A Sight to Make Eyes Sore

The visual side of things gives you the biggest indication of where this game comes from. It looks like a PSP game that someone dropped into a vat of vaseline and turned bloom up too high!

The character animations are stiff and the areas while normal around the time of original release are all quite small and show the limitations of the original console. This pairs with the lack of foot traffic in the barren streets and how they pop into view and disappear as you walk a few steps away, draw distance be damned. 

On the audio side of things, there is an improvement. AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed features a brand new and quite well-done English dub for those who cannot abide by the Japanese tongue. 

The hustle-bustle of the streets sounds brilliant and there is plenty of cheesy J-pop kicking around to help fit the theme of Akihabara, on the audio side of things I can’t really fault the game for authenticity or its brand new dub.

Verdict

I really enjoyed AKIBA’S TRIP: Undead and Undressed which was released on Vita and PS4 before this. Sadly I cannot say the same for AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed, which despite being much “newer” is pretty much a bare-bones remaster of an older game that’s aged like bread.

While it’s not the worst game to have Akiba in the title (see: Akiba’s Beat), it’s very hard to suggest anyone other than die-hard fans of the series even consider this one. It’s dated and repetitive with a little bit of charm, but it’s sadly outdone by the previous release. If you haven’t played that already, just go straight to it or watch the anime.

AKIBA’S TRIP: HELLBOUND & DEBRIEFED IS NOT RECOMMENDED

Platforms: Steam (PC), Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch

If you would like a better action game, you may be interested in our review of Judgment.

Many thanks go to Marvelous Games for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.

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