Whenever I see a turn-based RPG hit the Xbox Store, I immediately expect a long-winded and complex affair. That’s one of the worries I had about Pinku Kult: Hex Mortis, as well as the fact it has creepy horror vibes. Thankfully, it’s not a drawn-out adventure by any means and things are generally straightforward enough for even an RPG novice to feel comfortable playing. Pinku Kult: Hex Mortis gets off on the right foot, but can the rest of its offerings make for a worthwhile experience?
Pinku Kult: Hex Mortis is an RPG set in Razore City; a place where people go missing far too often and the amount of peculiar deaths are on the rise. The only common denominator related to these occurrences is a girl wearing a fox mask and you’ve been hired by the mysterious Shōkan Corp to do a spot of investigating. They’ve picked you because, well, you’re a nobody and this is dangerous work, so it’s no real loss should the worst happen. But nobody could’ve predicted the pure chaos caused by demons lurking in the heart of the city. It’s time to find out whether you possess the necessary skills to stop this hell on earth, before it’s too late.
Without spoiling too much, you’re going to bump into a lot of demonic characters on your journey to uncovering the truth, which spans four chapters. There are also several allies and friendly folk in Razore City to be fair. No matter their allegiances, the text dialogue manages to convey these personalities and their own sub-stories very well. Some will actually join the fight and your party for the foreseeable, but they do so organically, so that’s credit to the storytelling. The mystery of what happens after dark and the varied characters you meet will definitely hold your interest.
Among the fellow souls searching for answers are a herbalist, a young chap looking for a soul mate, and a performer. Despite being regular people, they’re characters you soon care about and fortunately they seem to have a few special abilities that come in handy during battles. The supernatural aspects enable a range of bizarre demons, often disguised in human form, to be introduced; ranging from Nana, a love-obsessed arachnid and Ichi, a beastly minotaur, to a whole host of indescribably monstrous creatures. They’re quite ghastly, while simultaneously eye-catching due to the fluorescent style colours used in the designs.
Actually, the pure vibrancy in the artwork overall is genuinely appealing and helps balance out the gruesome parts. This is especially true for the spooky locations traversed throughout. Wandering around an underground nest or a mansion that’s more akin to an abandoned psychiatric hospital, with rotting corpses all over the place, would be quite grim in isolation. However, you really are drawn to every dungeon-like area thanks to the contrasting usage of such bright colours too. I simply adored the Alice in Wonderland inspired section because the creepiness and jolly vibes go hand in hand.
It’s within those settings that you’ll find useful items such as potions and clues to figuring out the answers to small puzzles to solve. Nothing is too taxing here, for it’s basically just remembering numbers or giving fairly logical answers to riddles. The puzzles just fill in the rare moments where there are no enemies. Upon encountering an enemy though, you’ll transition into the battle phase and this is where the real action begins.
The combat plays out in turn-based fashion, with a user-friendly timeline in view to display the upcoming turns. At your disposal are regular attacks, special moves, support abilities and the option to use items. Initially, the special moves are limited, but as you level up, more will become available as your MP (mana points) bar increases in size. While relatively easy to grasp, a mini tutorial could do with being in place; if only to explain the idea of no single blow to your characters being a fatal one, because it will always leave you with a single HP for a turn.
Fighting various arachnids, vicious plants, spirit foxes and hell hounds is decent fun, with the special moves delivering cool animations. I do believe however, a trick has been missed slightly in not having any status effects involved with the special moves. Nevertheless, the boss battles are on another level; witnessing them morph into different forms as you push them to their limits is rather exciting. The designs are fantastic first and foremost, but you also have to use all your party’s abilities smartly in order to stay in the fight. Better yet, defeated demons can then be summoned – albeit sparingly – for huge damage dealing attacks in other battles and that’s a real help.
So, everything is great so far, but there are a handful of minor things which I feel Pinku Kult: Hex Mortis is lacking. Some of the fighting can be a slog, and that’s accentuated by enemies not having a health bar. You see, it’s nice to have the end in sight sometimes and know what’s required to land the final deathly hit. The levelling up is fairly basic too, with no skill trees or anything to think about – although this could be a positive if you’re after a lighter RPG experience. It would also be good to have more items available to buy with the in-game currency as you’ll probably end up with a lot of it left over by the end.
Overall, I must say it’s very out of character for someone so easily scared to actually enjoy anything that has a horror aspect to it, but I absolutely did, which is testament to the great job developer Dream Oni LTD have done here. Pinku Kult: Hex Mortis manages to infuse light horror elements with an easy-going turn-based RPG adventure to create an enthralling experience lasting roughly five hours. The story, characters, and the designs are all utterly fascinating, featuring ideas and concepts that feel unique. In terms of drawbacks, there’s merely a couple of combat and level-up components which are a tad underwhelming, but that’s not enough to spoil the rest of what’s on offer.
Pinku Kult: Hex Mortis will give you the creeps, while also luring you back continuously until completion, and then has the gall to leave you with a desire for more. If it’s an enchanting turn-based affair you’re after, you should look no further.
Pinku Kult: Hex Mortis is out right now on the Xbox Store