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Review: Tokyo Jungle


Leah

Developer: PlayStation C.A.M.P.,

Crispy's, SCE Japan Studio

Publisher: SCEA

Platform: PSN

Release Date: September 27, 2012

ESRB: T for Teen

 

 

Man is gone. All that remains among the ruins of Tokyo are animals of every other species. They haven’t a care in the world about what has happened to human beings, though; the only thought they have on their minds is to survive and pass on their genes. The premise may sound incredibly simple, but there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes that makes Tokyo Jungle engrossing and addicting.

 

Upon first starting out in Tokyo Jungle, you’re able to play as a cute, but vicious little Pomeranian or a dainty Sika deer. You’re thrown right into the action of survival mode (but not without having gone over the basics with the tutorial beforehand, of course), and your goal is to eat, mark your territory, breed, and survive as long as possible. But is that it? Quite the contrary. You also have a rather hefty amount of other animals to unlock and play as, as well as slowly figuring out the explanation for Tokyo’s current state through the game’s story mode.

 

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Survival mode is exactly what it sounds like - you travel throughout the different areas of Tokyo to eat and make babies. To keep things fresh and offer a chance to earn mega survival points (which are used to purchase new animals and clothing), there are also randomized challenges to partake in. These challenges include some things as simple as making your way to a specific area or performing a number of clean/stealth kills. Challenges that unlock animals specifically ask for killing an animal boss or claiming the territory of that animal. And in order to progress through Tokyo Jungle’s story mode, you’ll need to collect the scattered archives in survival mode. However, Mother Nature isn’t going to be holding back any of her punches here. As a beginner, you’ll probably die within the first ten years – most likely from something like a wolf or toxicity.

 

The difficulty may turn a lot of people off of continuing with Tokyo Jungle. Who could blame them? The toxicity factor is ruthlessly unfair, with seemingly every area always polluted and all food sources you come across having become tainted. Many times, you’ll be up against hordes of lions or other terrifying foes (and I mean hordes). With absolutely no way to go against them all, your deer will be running for dear life, which means missing out on nice food opportunities and marking territories.

 

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That’s just the beginning of how cruel Tokyo Jungle can be. But if you find the game enjoyable, you’ll learn to deal with all of that and learn to combat it. It can be excruciatingly tough at first, but I promise you’ll learn the ropes of the game. Mastering stealth and combat, planning out your routes and how you’ll tackle challenges, and memorizing shortcuts and water locations will get you to 100+ years in no time. It’s at this point that the difficulty becomes sickeningly satisfying.

 

However, after 100 years, Tokyo Jungle really does want you to just die already. If you’re playing as a carnivore, all your food sources have been replaced by a powerful foe (I won’t spoil what it is for you!) that cannot be eaten. And like the lion packs, there are tons of these guys. Unless you go underground (and that’s impossible for some large creatures like the elephant), you’re guaranteed to be running away from them all the time. Herbivores encounter the same trouble from said enemy, so they're unable to graze often even if there are plants available. How unfortunate that our fun has to end at a measly 100-something years, in any case.

 

With 40 animals to play as, plus 12 DLC animals, you’ll spend countless hours in survival mode with a different experience in each playthrough. Each animal really does feel unique, and not just a reskin of some sort (for example, the Thoroughbred versus the zebra). And even though you can get different colors for cats, lions, and so on, the stats between those can also have slight differences. Nonetheless, it’s an exhilarating feeling to progress up the food chain as you unlock more and more animals (for the most part, each animal unlocks one new animal – like a chain). Getting to finally unlock the grizzly bear and mauling everything in sight is simply awesome. It makes you wish that the selection of animals was even larger (and had included some of my favorite animals, such as the Fennec fox and red panda)!

 

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The clothing and equipment you’re able to dress your animal up in only adds to that. There’s a bunch of different clothing items to collect, such as a cute school girl uniform set and a tough guard dog set. These aren’t just for appearance, either – they also provide precious stat bonuses to your creature. There are even items with special effects that can help you out immensely. Clothing such as the trash bag will eliminate the poisoning your animal receives when eating tainted food and water. Although these special clothing items are rare and difficult to get, it’s worth the effort when it comes to surviving in Tokyo Jungle.

 

Survival mode is immense fun—the most fun I’ve had in ages, in fact. But what about story mode? Does it offer comparable entertainment? Not really (the stealth sections can be quite annoying), but it’s worth going through just to find out why Tokyo is in its current state and why all the humans are gone. Not only that, but you get a deeper look into the lives of the animals – such as the territorial war between the Tosa dogs and the beagles. And when you finally do get to the last story episode and succeed in attaining the true ending, what occurs is quite touching and bittersweet. The story mode definitely could have used some fine-tuning, but it’s an admirable piece of work for the type of game Tokyo Jungle is.

 

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Tokyo Jungle is a must-buy for anybody even slightly interested in its premise. Playing as an animal in a video game is always great fun, especially with how much we’re used to playing as bald space marines and macho tough guys lately. Moreover, Tokyo Jungle provides a surprisingly large and diverse selection of creatures that are all exciting to control and make that very concept even better. With how expansive, random, and amusing the game’s survival mode can be, Tokyo Jungle will provide you with hours upon hours of game time and comical (or dramatic!) stories to tell. In fact, it’s taken me at least a week of heavy playing to unlock almost everything and achieve all of the trophies. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and Tokyo Jungle is one of those unique little gems that you should definitely play before you die.

 


Pros:

 

+ A whopping 40 animals to play as (with 12 DLC animals set to release) that offer different play-styles and experiences

+ Survival mode is addicting and randomized enough to have you playing over and over again

+ Large amount of clothing that not only makes your animal adorable or menacing in appearance, but useful in regards to stats or special effects

 

Cons:

 

- Game can be mercilessly unfair and feel artificially difficult with factors such as toxicity

- Story mode could use some refinement and its stealth sections are especially annoying

 


 

Overall Score: 9 (out of 10)

Fantastic

 

Tokyo Jungle is just as brilliant as it looks. You’ll spend countless hours as a variety of different animals either eating or being eaten. And though it’s challenging, it can be addicting and satisfying.

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