Playing In A World Of Japanese Watercolours

Playing in a World of Japanese Watercolors

Back at the Tokyo Game Show last year, I got some hands-on time with Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines. At that time, I said it was the prettiest game I saw at the show. And now, as I play through the full version, I find myself loving the art style more and more.

Playing in a World of Japanese Watercolors

Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines is actually a sequel to 1999's Ore no Shikabane wo Koete Yuke -- or, loosely translated, "Walk Over My Corpse". Walk Over My Corpse is one of those classic PS1 JRPGs that, while quite popular in Japan, never had a Western release. This is a shame because of one of its biggest selling points: its sumi-e-inspired art style.

Playing in a World of Japanese Watercolors

Sumi-e, if you are not aware, is the traditional Japanese art style that uses nothing but brush, black ink, and rice paper to create a water colour of the "soul" of an object. And while Walk Over My Corpse added more than a little bit of colour -- especially in the monster designs -- the use of a sumi-e style gave the game a truly mystical and feudal Japan feel.

Playing in a World of Japanese Watercolors

Fifteen years later, its sequel, Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines, also uses sumi-e's thick black ink outlines as a base for its art style. However, instead of using the muted colour palette of the original game, it often goes for a far more vibrant one -- making the environments look like a beautiful collection of Japanese watercolors. Moreover, as you play and the seasons change, so do the levels -- letting you see the scenery change between vibrant spring and barren winter.

Playing in a World of Japanese Watercolors

Also of special note are the monster designs. The gods, demons, and yokai you battle all seem torn straight out of traditional Japanese paintings -- so much so that they appear as flat 2D entities on the 3D plane where your characters stand. Effects like fire and water also share this 2D art-come-to-life style as well.

Playing in a World of Japanese Watercolors

All in all, Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines' art is wonderfully unique and makes it as much a joy to look at as it is to play -- and with a "take screenshot" button as part of the on-screen interface, the game clearly knows it, too.

Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines was released in Japan for the PlayStation Vita on July 17, 2014. It has been licensed for a Western release, but no specific date has been announced.


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