5 PlayStation 4 Games to Experience Japan With
1) Toukiden: Kiwami
Toukiden Kiwami is practically a showcase of Japan for tourists. Divided into zones (ages) corresponding to different periods of Japanese history, most zones incorporate one or more famous Japanese structures into their background design.
For example, in the Age of Grace, which is based on the Nara period, advance boss battles take place within a ruin of Todaiji. In the Age of Chaos, which represents the Meiji Restoration, Goryōkaku floats in the background. In the Age of Honor, which symbolises the Kamakura Shogunate, a collapsed version of Kinkakuji looms ominously among overgrown trees.
In addition, Toukiden: Kiwami is also a compendium of famous Japanese historical figures. Mitama power-ups of the game are displayed like playing cards within the inventory, with each card is accompanied by both an Anime illustration and a concise write-up. In my opinion, memorising the stories of just a quarter of those cards gives you enough knowledge to speak like a Japanese history expert. Naturally, this knowledge also affords you a good feel of this ancient nation. A sensation akin to visiting Japan physically.
2) Ryu ga Gotoku: Ishin!
A lot of games incorporate Japanese elements into their stage designs. Shoji screen, bamboo forests, rustic temples, etc. Few games, however, allow you to wander in a purely Japanese setting in an open-world way. Even fewer are translated into English for the international market.
Ryu ga Gotoku: Ishin! has no English release too. But with handy guides like this, it’s really not difficult to get through the game. You might not want to progress through the story, for that matter, with Ishin’s rendition of Kyoto being so atmospheric. The sounds, the chatter, all the exotic goods in the stores! Like me, you might just want to wander around endlessly to soak in the ambience. I might be going all fanboy here. But in my opinion, no other game delivers a more enthralling experience of medieval Japan than this PS4 title.
3) Ryu ga Gotoku Six: Inochi no Uta
Nope, I’m not cheating here. I know it feels wrong to list two games from the same franchise. However, Ishin and Inochi no Uta are so different in feel and ambience, they really shouldn’t be considered under the same light. To begin with, there’s a time difference of 150 years between the two episodes.
And while Ishin is all about the charms and chaos of 19th century Japan, Inochi no Uta showcases the modern face of the country. It’s more or less a touristy look, with side-stories and mini games involving Japanese pastimes like baseball, pub chatting and karaoke. But hey, aren’t these integral aspects of modern Japanese life? The very things so many people go to Japan to enjoy?
On top of which, this final episode of Ryu Ga Gotoku also showcases the idyllic seaside town of Onomichi, temples and cable cars and Seto Sea fishing and all. Journeying from dazzling Kamurocho to Onomichi is akin to a Shinkansen day-trip from Tokyo into the Japanese countryside. You will feel the excitement of a tourist in Japan. And at the end of the day, be very satisfied with your cyber Japanese adventure.
4) Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed
Rather than recommend this game for its rendition of otaku wonderland Akihabara, which by the way is fantastic, I’d instead draw your attention to its story. A story about stripping vampire-like creatures in the middle of downtown, so as to kill them with sunlight.
… What? What?
Yet, in the hands of its producers, Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed becomes a hilarious adventure, one that’s also occasionally infused with moments of philosophical brilliance. Through this, the entire game becomes a shining example of the craft Japan is renowned worldwide for. Anime/Manga storytelling. If you’re looking for a taste of this unique genre, there’s really no better PS4 game to go to. In turn, I believe this makes Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed the perfect modern Japanese experience too.
By the way, don’t be too worried about this game’s unique combat system. (Or too excited) You do need to strip your enemies to win, but everything is done in a cartoonish, humorous way. You also win the moment your foes are down to undergarments.
5) Persona 5
Atlus’ Persona 5 is the newest game in this list, and possibly the one with the most immersive Japanese experience. In this unique modern day JRPG, you play the role of a Japanese high school student juggling studies, friends, and saving everybody’s souls in bizarre cognitive worlds.
What’s exemplary about the Persona formula is how realistic the experience gets. With or without the fantasy elements, you completely feel the burden of a typical Japanese student struggling between textbooks, buddies and social life. Don’t let that put you off the game, though. It’s not dreary and there is enough variety of tasks to keep you looking forward to every day. Lastly, there are the cognitive battles. If you are perceptive enough, these would offer you deep insights into the Japanese psyche too.
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© 2017 Kuan Leong Yong