Tokyo Jungle – First Impressions

Toyko Junge is one of the most weirdest and most amazing mainstream games this year. Have a trailer.

You control various animals and struggle to survive in the streets of post-apocalyptic Toyko. The game offers an impressive number of animals to chose from. You can play as anything from chickens to Tigers and even Dinosaurs. The focus is on pets, farm and zoo animals.

If this premise wasn’t unique enough, the gameplay is pretty weird too. You control the animal from a very zoomed-out 3rd person perspective. The camera is fixed. The setup reminds of the PSX Metal Gear solid. The game actually takes a lot of features from MGS including the stealth mechanics – among them even a box to hide under. Those stealth mechanics are usually important for the herbivorous animals, who can’t attack very well and need to avoid contact with predators. Playing as a carnivore, the game reminds more of a brawler where you make your way through a sequence of passages and beat up enemies with some very basic, button-mashy combat moves.

But on top of that sits an RPG system and a challenge system. Your animal gets constantly hungry so you need to make it eat on a regular basis. You also need to mark your territory and procreate. You offspring inherit you RPG stats and the size of the litter represents the number of lives you have. Completing simple challenges such as “eat 3 flowers” will give you stat boosts and can unlock new animals. The goal is to see how far you can make it until you get eaten by a crocodile or poisoned by radiation. With each run taking half an hour, it feels very much like an action-based roguelike… with animals. And it is just as addictive as a true Roguelike can be.

And of course there is an insane story mode which – curiously – needs to be unlocked by playing the regular survival mode. The story seems to be taking clues from Yakuza films with clans of dogs competing against each other for the control of Tokyo. There is even a hint of social criticism found in the backstory of humanity’s last days.

Tokyo Jungle is honest in it’s quirkiness like old games used to be. It doesn’t hide the fact that it is silly or repetitive. But at the same time, it feels fresh and new because of gameplay and setting that avoid the oh so tired modern formulas. What I’m saying is take a look at Tokyo Jungle.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

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The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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