Inukari – Chase of Deception is a platformer that takes place over the course of twenty-four levels and three different “worlds”. The gameplay is rather straightforward and consists of running, jumping, and fighting different enemies and bosses.
The first thing you notice when playing Inukari are the pixel graphics. These are built out nicely and hail back to more retro platforming games. They aren’t groundbreaking by any means, but for an indie game they do a good job reflecting the tone and genre of game that Inukari wants to be.
However, despite the solid visuals, much of Inukari lacks the polish that it needs to be a truly good game. For starters, the dialogue and text are marred with errors. This isn’t uncommon in many of these smaller indie games, especially ones that are translated into English by a non-native English speaker. While this is an understandable shortcoming, it still results in an awkward telling of the story.
The story itself is one that’s been told before. People no longer respect nature and chaos ensues. It’s by no means a bad trope but it isn’t one that comes at you with any twists or turns.
The bigger issue that Inukari faces and fails to rise against is its issues offering a smooth gameplay experience. The movement is incredibly loose, giving the controls a floaty feeling. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself – even though I am partial to tighter controls – but when paired with the level design, these controls make the platforming element incredibly simple.
It doesn’t help that one of the main mechanics for moving throughout the game are wall jumps. Not because there is anything wrong with wall jumping, but because Inukari has an issue with consistently registering when your character climbs the wall. More often than not I would have to stutter jump up the wall. The final result is easy but awkward platforming that doesn’t let up for the entirety of the game.
The combat and life system also could use some refinement. Because of the awkwardness of the movement and the small hitboxes, I found it more practical just to skip over enemies instead of engaging them.
The boss fights are where these issues became more prominent. Hitboxes would be inconsistent and many bosses have attacks that are too fast to dodge. One boss has a tracking arrow that will follow you anywhere on the screen and can’t be dodged unless it doesn’t track you properly. Another would cause the screen to shake violently as it hurled projectiles towards you too quickly to dodge. There is no skill in avoiding these attacks, just luck. This hardly makes for an enjoyable combat experience.
Another issue is found in the AI for the enemies. There are two behaviors enemies will follow: either they will repeat the same action and then attack you when you are within range, or they will lock on to you, following until you either move out of range or kill them.
Some enemies will just repeat an attack in the same spot, others will fly back and forth before targeting you, making a move forwards as you enter their attack range.
Bosses follow this same pattern. The last boss, for example, is fought while standing on three platforms. He will go off screen and then reappear behind one of the three platforms and then attack if I was standing on it. If I wasn’t standing on the platform, he would wait for a few seconds and then go back off-screen before reappearing. The issue was, he never actively targeted where I was standing. This resulted in me standing in the same spot for half of the boss fight as the AI kept selecting the same platform to reappear behind.
It led to a large amount of redundancy in the gameplay. If the enemy behaviors would’ve been varied, or if they would’ve just been a bit more clever, Inukari could well have fared much better. Ironically, in the third world you unlock a double jump and that actually seems to make the wall jumps more responsive. The irony comes as this is about the same point where you’ll rarely have to use them.
Really, Inukari suffers from a lack of quality control. Small glitches and issues with the gameplay turn what could’ve been a fun, short game into a lackluster adventure with a disappointing conclusion.
To end on a positive note, the best things about Inukari – Chase of Deception are the visuals and the music. Each world comes with audio tailored to the environment, catchy enough that it never gets redundant. If only the rest of the game would’ve seen the same care, then I would easily be able to recommend it.
Inukari – Chase of Deception is on the Xbox Store