Tokyo Jungle – Review

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A unique experience in the pantheon of the PS3.

Tokyo Jungle’s concept is simple, but brilliantly novel – in a humanity-free future, a ruined Japan succumbs to the animals of the wild, as zoos see their fences torn down by the starving beasts, and all kinds of animals, both exotic and domestic, battle tooth and claw for supremacy on the streets of Tokyo.

But this is no mere beat-’em-up populated with animal characters, more a strange twisted form of survival horror. With any animal, you have to take care of your three gauges – life, hunger and stamina. When the hunger gauge falls to zero, your life gauge begins to drop, and so begins the search for meat, vegetation or water.

What could have been a dull side-scrolling thumper has surprising finesse. The developers have wisely gone for a wider pool of gameplay than the concept would perhaps usually be permitted, and with this reaps rewards through diversity.

That’s not to say it’s overly serious in tone, the game literally allowing you to mark your territory, pissing on checkpoints in order to make an area of the city safe. It also features the rather incongruous option to cloth your chosen animal in all variety of accessories, perhaps sporting a woolly hat and scarf as you starve to death in some unfamiliar district.

Herbivores must desperately spar with rivals over the last remaining plant supplies in the area, whereas the carnivores can brawl and claw their way to the next meal. Don’t let other animals see you if you fear their fighting prowess, instead hide in convenient patches of long foliage which provide ideal breathing space while your danger gauge falls.

As in any post-apocalyptic future, you also have to mate with those of your own species in order to replicate and hopefully keep your genes jumping to the next generation. This mainly involves rutting in a cloud of pink love-hearts, which provides welcome relief from the rather gloomy hiding and scrapping as you try to keep your strength up.

Looks-wise, the game isn’t particularly spectacular, the rather functional visuals notable mainly for strange 90s arcade-style fonts and icons, giving a kind of quaint retro-naff-chic vibe. Sonically it’s threadbare too but again, what effects there are do the job with the minimum of fuss and obtrusion.

The lack of ability to move the camera around perplexed me for a good while, as trying to get a better view I would instinctively prod the second analogue stick, expecting it to rotate the camera angle and instead having my under-powered animal inexplicably jump from the safety of cover into the path of a marauding wolf.

However, the simplicity and rough edges of the presentation are easily ignored when you begin to delve into the survival mechanic, and this is where you are rewarded – there’s actually a solid game underneath.

Unlike many modern titles, with developers often forgetting to lay their spectacular framework over a solid foundation of game, Tokyo Jungle is compelling for the game’s central mechanic, not a bunch of peripheral CGI set pieces or an expensive voice-over artist.

The sense of anguish and loss as you die still easily surpasses that of the majority of bigger budget titles, and the potential scope for development encompasses evolution itself, with many levels of species advancement to contend with if you get far enough into the game.

It’s not perfect, the few niggling flaws and slightly lacklustre presentation stop it being so. But when making games too many make the wrong choices, and Tokyo Jungle deserves many plaudits for getting it right and focusing on the playability, offering a unique experience in the pantheon of the PS3.

This game shows us a glimpse of our own twisted Darwinian logic really – as consoles evolve towards yet another generation of graphical improvements, the survival of the most commercially successful leads people to treasure the skin-deep looks of the latest Hollywood blockbuster. But somewhere inside us, we all know that it’s what’s on the inside that matters.

By Sam Gill

Score: 4/5

Format: PS3
Price: £9.99 via PSN
Developer: Sony
Publisher: Sony

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

    £6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Infrastructure Engineer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking to find a...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Engineer

    £21000 - £23600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss