In most RPGs, character classes or equipment are determine by a role you select at a designated place, nodes you fill in on their specific skill trees, and the different items you buy and assign to them. Things work differently in Oninaki. Kagachi, a Watcher tasked with helping Lost Souls reincarnate and preserving society’s order, joins up with special Lost Souls called Daemons. While he is doing all of the fighting, he is tapping into the abilities and affinities they had when they were still alive. This means each Daemon is essentially a job, moveset, and weapon all at once. It’s a streamlined approach. Given the investment that can go into each one, it also means people can get very attached to them, perhaps even more so than other major characters.
Oninaki Daemons join at a rather steady rate throughout the game. Aisha is with Kagachi right away, giving people access to the stereotypical single-sword you expect in any action-RPG. After that, a new Daemon joins on almost every major excursion, essentially giving players access to a new class. Since the character build and equipment is based on improving the Daemon’s skill tree and weapon with stones you acquire as you use them, you get a chance to experience life in certain roles and see what kind of tactics suit you. Aisha is a samurai. Zaav can feel like a dragoon. Dia is your gunner. But, to encourage you to go ahead and try Daemons you haven’t been using, enemies occasionally drop Null Stones that can be used on any Daemon’s skill tree node to unlock their active and passive abilities.
When you first recruit a Daemon, you don’t get to know much about them. You’ll know their name, what their weapon is, the movement-action tied to X, and one special attack. There’s actually a valid, lore-related reason for it. These particular lost souls have no memories. In some cases, a Daemon is lucky if they even remember their name. But, as you invest in their Skill trees, you’ll eventually unlock more of their memories. Doing so lets you learn their backstories at save points, one fragment at a time. Each one is naturally tragic, sometimes heavy-handed, in the name of evoking emotion and getting you to care about them. (Also, the overexposure in these segments can essentially have you attempting to read white text overlaid on top of characters in alabaster, beige, cream, and ivory attire.) Most importantly, each one does provide insight about the characters, their history, and their personality, while also unlocking more nodes in the skill tree with even better active and passive abilities.
The thing is, Oninaki follows the Tokyo RPG Factory trend of not having that many different enemy varieties. You’ll see the same sorts of opponents very frequently, with similar attack patterns, everywhere. Which means you’ll very likely find yourself attached to a certain Daemon or two. Yes, they have different types of techniques you can rely upon and their own strengths and weaknesses. Aisha, the first one you unlock, is a sword-wielder who quickly gets in an enemies face, has special attacks that actually push Kagashi toward or away from opponents, and has a dodging move assigned to X. Izana is more about crowd control with her scythe, though this can take away from her speed when preparing a standard swing. (The full circle Parallel skill is executed much more quickly.) She does have a teleporting dodge with X that helps get yourself in position for attacks, plus a series of shockwaves with her ranged Shock skill to help.
For example, Zaav is my boy. This is my battling BFF. I will poke all of the enemies with my long, sharp stick and load him up with all the skills, like the super stabby Phalanx, so I can chain together as many poking attacks as possible. Plus, he has so many perks. He’s the second Daemon you get, so you have lots of time to get familiar with him. He has a skill you can easily acquire that keeps Kagachi from being staggered from a head-on assault. Critical hits from him are boosted. His jumping attack lets Kagachi actually go through an enemy, which is great for positioning. Plus, some of his earliest skills are great at crowd control, like the Meteor that has him perform a dragoon-style jump on an area and the Sweep that can actually stagger the group of foes it hits. He even has a passive skill that restores health whenever you use a special attack. Also, since Daemons rank up as you invest in them, it can really make someone want to stick with certain favorites.
Oninaki Daemons are an unconventional approach to jobs and movesets. Connecting deeply to another character, helping them regain their sense of self, and working with them makes it possible for you to become a better fighter with more tactical options in each battle. It makes them more interesting. Plus, it gives you motivation to keep going, so you could see who you might meet next. It might help people better engage with the game.
Oninaki is available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC.