Release Date: September 25 (North America), September 26 (Europe)
Price: £9.99 / $14.99
Platforms available on: PlayStation Network
Developer: Sony Japan
Genre: Stealth, action adventure
Tokyo Jungle is the latest bonkers title from Sony Japan, the team behind such bizarre games as LocoRoco, Ape Escape and upcoming release Puppeteer. Full of killer cats and dogs, cute chicks and deadly dinosaurs, this incredibly Japanese-centric title is something of a surprise addition to the Western release schedule, albeit a welcome one, completely unlike anything else we've played this year.
Tokyo Jungle takes place in a futuristic version of Tokyo in which the human population has vanished and animals roam the streets. An urban jungle in every sense of the word, it's a case of survival of the fittest in an environment where dog literally eats dog. The gameplay involves moving freely around the city's multiple districts, eating plants or other animals, marking territory by urinating on flags, and breeding.
Finding the hidden archives is only possible in Survival mode, which is where players will spend most of their time. Initially, Survival mode is open only to the carnivorous Pomeranian dogs or the slightly more peaceful plant eating Sika deer. Completing challenges within the mode unlocks new animals in the game's shop, such as lions, tigers, chicks, elephants and hippos, as well as improving attack and defence attributes.
Challenges include ridding an area of its cat population, finding and defeating 'boss' animals, or mating a set number of times. Mating with female animals in their prime produces more offspring and increases your pack size, something that makes it easier to defeat stronger enemies and ultimately survive. Chances of survival are further increased by finding hidden items of clothing, which not only look hilarious, but also add stat boosts.
The potentially endless score-based Survival mode features a plentiful supply of animals to unlock and challenges to conquer, something that makes each survival attempt feel unique. Having complete freedom of the moderately sized city, which is full of hidden areas and interiors, increases replayability, as does playing as either a carnivore or herbivore, choices that change the type of gameplay experience.
Carnivorous animals, for example, are hunters and must fight and eat other animals in order to survive, level up and attract better mates. Herbivores, meanwhile, are faster and more agile, but also much weaker, and as such, rely more on stealth tactics, including hiding under boxes in a nod to Metal Gear Solid. They're also at the mercy of local wildlife, searching out the more limited array of plants and vegetation.
Unlocking levels for the story mode is also unnecessarily long-winded. The seemingly random nature in which archives appear means that players only in it for the story are forced to spend an age playing through a Survival mode that might hold little interest. The story mode itself, which features clearly defined goals in a set play area, also suffers from the odd extreme spike in difficulty. The visuals and animations also leave a lot to be desired.
Despite some poor design choices and sub-par graphics, Tokyo Jungle is an oddly addictive game that exudes charm. Each survival attempt feels unique thanks to a steady stream of unlockable animals, new challenges and hidden areas. Stranger than anything we've played this year, Tokyo Jungle is a unique title which, while not without its flaws, is wildly entertaining and well worth a download.