Chances are you've never played anything quite like Tokyo Jungle. This PlayStation 3 exclusive, classified under the "urban-based animal survival" genre, is a game that stars animals in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo city. There are no humans so it is up to you and the animal of your choosing to survive. Can such a simple and odd concept make for an enjoyable experience?
The first thing you have to keep in mind when playing Tokyo Jungle is that there are plenty of liberties taken from what would happen in real life. Chances are a house cat wouldn't have a chance in hell against something like an alligator or lion. That's exactly what can happen though if you play your cards right which, for me, immediately gives this title its charm. If you can't bring yourself to smile the moment you start mashing the R1 button to take down a cow as a Pomeranian dog, then you probably sold your soul for some Alf pogs.
Survival is the main mode to play which first asks you to pick an animal. You will start off with choices like the small but vicious Pomeranian or the swift but stealthy Sika Deer. More animals can be unlocked by completing specific challenges. Once you have made your choice, you start looking for food. Carnivores hunt other animals while the herbivores just eat plants and various vegetation. It's a dog eat dog world, literally!
"Say I'm cute again! I DARE you! I DOUBLE DARE you!"
Combat is relatively simple but varies slightly depending on your character. There's the basic attack for a quick strikes and a lunging bite to go in for the kill when the red jaws icon appears. If you're hunting other animals, the smaller ones can be snuck up on or chased for the kill. Bigger animals or packs require some strategy and stealth. The bigger animals in particular may take a couple of critical strikes to take down but the payoff is worth it.
Sneak up on your prey and strike for a "clean kill".
Once it's safe after making the kill, you can feast on the corpse to fill up your hunger meter. This meter decreases over time the longer you go without food. There's also health which is self explanatory and stamina which will go down and eventually make you exhausted if you're not careful during combat situations.
Herbivores trade off combat ability for easier food. They can still attack but it's best used for defensive purposes. These animal types have to be sneakier so as to not accidentally run into a pack of hyenas. If you do, it's best to run and hide in a patch of grass until they lose your scent.
"Why did I accept that dinner invitation?"
Once you're well fed, it is now time for your animal to mark territories. Different areas on the map have a set of markers to reach before you can find a mate. These mates range in classes from "prime" (top of the line female) to "desperate" (barhound floozy). Oh yes, Tokyo Jungle has some "hot coffee" action, mounting and all, going on!
"C'mon baby, it's the apocalypse!"
Mating will result in the next generation of animals which will form a pack. You now play as one of the offspring and repeat the same process as before. Having a pack with you helps to cause distractions to escape dangerous situations or to simply be extra lives if the animal you're controlling falls.
You will also come across gift boxes as you explore which can contain handy items like flea shampoo or leftover pet food. There are also newspaper articles to be found which unlocks chapters for Story Mode which I will get to in a moment. Probably the oddest items that can be picked up though are clothing. Yes, you can dress up your animal which will actually boost stats and better your odds for survival. Fashion to the rescue!
Chicks, man. Am I right?
The Story Mode in Tokyo Jungle plays out some humorous scenarios that centers around specific animals. The first mission, for example, has a Pomeranian alone in his owner's apartment starving and taking a chance outside. From here, the dog learns to turn from a domesticated pet to a bloodthirsty beast! The situations are silly and good for a chuckle but you won't find any award-winning writing here. It's a relatively weak mode that you'll mainly go through for the trophies and unlocking certain animals.
Speaking of animals, Tokyo Jungle has up to 80 types to choose from along with more to download from the PlayStation Store. The DLC animals costs $.99 each and includes some interesting ones such as a crocodile, kangaroo, and giraffe.
Yes, you CAN play as a dinosaur!
The music is pretty catchy with a cool beat that just stacks on top of the already weird experience Tokyo Jungle provides. Sounds do their job and fits each animal well. The only weird design choice in that regard is after mating, no matter the animal, a wolf howl will play. Umm... I guess she was good in the sack?
Tokyo Jungle is one of those "must play" games if you're dying for something fresh and unique. I've played a few hours of it so far and still haven't gotten over the hilarious concept that allows dogs to hunt elephants. It can be repetitive but challenging especially if you survive over five generations.
Tokyo Jungle receives 3 1/2 Death Rays out of 5.