You are wounded, scared and alone. Your pack is mostly dead. A few scattered bones remind you of the ones you cherished in life. You smell and catch something in the corner of your eye. Too late. You are now at the brink of dying. A predator has caught you. You take it as a hallucination upon the last few seconds of life, but you imagine seeing the words “you are dead” suddenly appear in big bold letters as you helplessly watch your lifeless body be devoured by whatever was hunting you. You are now one with the jungle. Tokyo Jungle.
That was one bleak intro, wasn’t it? Way too dramatic and a little on the exaggerated side, I’ll admit. But imagine trying to convey the sense of danger and excitement of playing a game where you start off as a little Pomeranian dog that takes place in a mysteriously deserted metropolis of Tokyo. The concept is completely bananas right from the outset. Tokyo Jungle manages to go beyond its apparent ridiculous premise and presents PlayStation 3 players with one of the best downloadable offerings this year.
Things are a little more complicated as a herbivore. Plant life can be found throughout the city sectors, but now besides eating your way to success, you will have to keep an eye out for predators. Your only defense is to stun them, something that can rarely be done unless you can sneak up on a threat and hoof it on the head, and even then, it’s not a guarantee you’ll live unless you can outrun that threat. The tense moments of Tokyo Jungle take place in these unsure moments, where you’ll be asking yourself “Will I be able to stop this thing? Should I even try?”. The rewards of succeeding are huge and the results of failure are usually a game over screen.
Luckily, you can find incentives to keep playing even in failure. Tokyo Jungle’s scoring system rewards you for just about anything you do in game. Obviously, living out as long as possible and evolving your species through as many generations as you can yields the most points, even though smaller victories like defeating other animals or meeting some of the bonus goals the game randomly generates can also give you much deserved points. These points can then be used to buy new animals to choose from, among many types of felines, dogs and even elephants or items to wear – which can give you an edge in game.
You will spend your time jumping from mode to mode in order to unlock new missions and things to do, which is a refreshing way to play Tokyo Jungle. Survival mode is obviously the game course, but the story segments provide some of the more crazy scenarios you’ll find, especially as you approach the end. Speaking of the ending, it is unforgettable and something that is well worth the playthrough.
The unpredictable nature of Tokyo Jungle is its biggest charm. No two playthroughs are alike, even if you pick the same animal and go to the same sections of the city. There’s no way of predicting what you’ll run into. You may find a pack of hyenas fighting a grizzly bear or a deserted street, beagles having a turf war with kangaroos, all while a toxic cloud creepily covers the sector and slowly poisons everyone. The uniqueness of setting and premise and the random elements like these that make this game an experience you will not soon forget.
On the other hand, it was to be mentioned that Tokyo Jungle isn’t the prettiest game or the easiest to control. It looks and controls much like a late PlayStation 2 game running on a steady frame rate, but frankly, you should be playing the game for the unique experience and not for the wow factor of the graphics. Even if the repetitive music grates your ears, you’ll want to see if everything really tastes like chicken, metaphorically speaking. Hopefully Tokyo Jungle won’t propel you into going out and finding it out personally.You will just have to find out whether or not you have it in you to accept how tense and atmospheric Tokyo Jungle can get at times, all the while, providing some of the weirdest animal moments ever seen outside of those annoying Facebook posts your great aunt likes to make.