I remember Little Red Riding Hood having more of a story...
There's not really much of a noticeable storyline in Akaneiro: Demon Hunters. From what I've played of the game, it seems to be trying to adapt the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale into a dark fantasy style taking place in feudal Japan. While this sounds like an awesome and, at the very least, interesting idea for a game it doesn't really tell its story. There is very little dialogue between the NPCs and the player character at the tutorial level, and after that they don't really talk to players other than to let them know they have things to sell or to say that there are new missions available.
When it comes to the missions themselves, the players characters will say something every now and then but nothing really interesting or that isn't already quite obvious. The only time I even noticed that Akaneiro: Demon Hunters was trying to do a dark fantasy Little Red Riding hood was in the first mission, where a village had been attacked by wolves that had become corrupted and turned demonic. Before the boss fight players meet the village elder, who was also corrupted by whatever corrupted the wolves. That was about as deep as the story got in all the levels I played. There are additional snippets of the games story in the loading screens, but that goes by so fast that chances are most people won't pay attention to them, or get much out of them for that matter.
But it's an action RPG, right?
That it most certainly is! What the game lacks in story it does make up for in that it plays like most other Diablo style games out there. Players create their character, choosing from either the prowess, fortitude or cunning diciplines. These are basically the character's starting characters - a choice between warrior, tank, or assassin. From there they proceed to go out into the beautiful world of Akaneiro to hack and slash their way through every demon they encounter.
But that's about where the similarities with Diablo end. The awesome thing about the way Akaneiro: Demon Hunters plays is that a player's starting "class" is nothing more than a tool kit. Players aren't limited by what they chose at the beginning in regards to what they can do later in the game. Want to play a cunning warrior and use two handed weapons? Go right ahead. See skills from the other trees that would suit your playstyle better? Go ahead and grab them! There's nothing preventing players from playing how they want, unless they want to play a ranged class, as there aren't really ranged weapons and only a hand full of ranged abilities.
Whenever players aren't out and about slaying demons in one of the game's many stages they will be back in their home village, where they can trade with NPCs, ogle the crafting NPC that isn't up and running just yet or pick out a spirit pet that'll buff one of their stats for thirty minutes. There's also the option to summon a companion to assist players in missions. At first I thought this was multiplayer, inviting players into your session to go to town on the often painful onslaught of opponents that Akaneiro: Demon Hunters will throw at its players, but I was sadly disappointed. There is no multiplayer, and I'm not sure if there are plan to bring it in. At the very least the AI companions serve as a welcome distraction from overwhelming waves of enemies and provide extra damage against the games bosses. They're not exactly bright though, they do not use any abilities and once they die they're out of the session until you go back to town and scoop up a new one, so don't expect too much out of them.
I should probably mention that the enemy AI isn't much better than the friendly summons available to players. Their tactics boil down to brute force. Swarm the player from every angle, lock them in place and eat them alive. There is the occasional special monster that shows up in the field, but the only special thing about them is that they hit harder and are more durable than your average trash mobs. I've yet to see anything really special from even the boss monsters. For an action RPG, it's missing some rather important features like random special trash mobs, for example, one of the demonic wolves in a pack suddenly deciding it's going to teleport all over the place, or explode upon death into a larger pack of demonic wolves.
Free to plays gotta make money somehow
And now for the good and bad of Akaneiro: Demon Hunters, well not counting the almost complete lack of story.
I have some mixed feelings about the business model they use here in Akaneiro: Demon Hunters. The in-game and cash shop currency is karma, which I find to be pretty damn nice. Players can earn and buy the currency to spend on anything their heart desires, all of the nice, shiny pieces of loot that they're otherwise struggle to come across on their own. Players can earn this currency by cutting down demons or selling any loot they don't care for in their adventures, but it can take quite a bit of time to build up serious amounts.
The downside to this system is that progressing ones character has little to do with a character's level other than gaining the ability to purchase new abilities. To actually buy the ability and any of its improved versions, players need to spend karma on them. At first this doesn't seem like a terribly big deal, because they cost so little at low levels, but costs quickly rise to thousands of karma, forcing players to start grinding stages repeatedly to be able to unlock their abilities. However, players could reach into their wallets and spend some money to buy their skills. To make matters worse, unlocking each new area, which also moves the level cap higher, involves paying an increasingly higher Karma fee. So players basically have to chose between progressing their characters or progressing in the game. Either way, it's a lot of grinding to get anywhere without opening up your wallet.
The journey is worth a try
Akeneiro: Demon Hunters was an OK RPG, and it's certainly worth trying. It has an unique art style that is very reminiscent of Okami, and the gameplay is interesting enough to hold my attention for a while. Just don't go expecting much of a story here or for the gameplay to be too deep. But if you want to kill time and don't mind grinding, Akeneiro: Demon Hunters can be pretty fun, especially when a stage decides it wants to be on overwhelming difficulty.