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Firstly, apologies for this late review. I really meant to get something up much sooner, but recent life events have gotten in the way of things a little and will probably continue to do so for some time.

Tokyo Jungle, upon seeing it for the very first time,  was a game I had to have. I knew it’d be mine.

Whether I’d like it or not would be a totally different factor altogether.

As with all games these days, I tried not to get excited, I tried to keep my expectations low and I prepared myself for disappointment, which was just as well, as I was left completely underwhelmed after my first play.

What the hell is this? I thought, whilst staring blankly at the (game over) screen of stats scrolling by.

Perplexed by the whole experience, I had another go. The same disappointment ensued.

I walked away and didn’t play it for a couple of days.
 

There’s probably a really funny quip for this caption, but I’m buggered if I can think of one.

Then, one day, during a night of TV viewing (I say viewing but I really mean flicking through endless channels of absolute shite) I decided to give it another go.

I chose the Pomeranian and died fairly quickly. I knew where I’d gone wrong and immediately jumped back in for another go. I got a little further. I died again and tried again and got a lot further.

A very strange thing was happening to me. I was actually enjoying it and having fun. Something I’ve rarely experienced from a game since the Dreamcast era.

Tokyo Jungle is a very, very deep game. It’s extremely strategic and requires you to think one step ahead at all times. This was something I wasn’t expecting at all. It’s very cleverly crafted and the developers are a hugely talented bunch.
 

It would appear that the Danger symbol is quite subdued, given the circumstances at hand.

Allow me to explain the strategy elements a little more:

Regardless of the animal you choose at the start (you only have a choice of a Pomeranian or a Sika deer) you’re always dumped in the same area of Tokyo. You’re free to move wherever you want to though, and as you explore, the map branches out into more directions.

There’s a day and a night cycle and just like in real life, it’s generally more dangerous when it’s dark. Some areas have an abundance of food in them. Others less so. Some actually have no food at all and some areas are poisoned. You can still enter the poisoned areas but your health gauges will take a hit.

Allow me to explain the health bars, of which you have three of:

LIFE – HUNGER – STAMINA

The most important bar is the hunger bar. This constantly depletes. Eating food or drinking water replenishes it. If the hunger bar depletes fully, your life bar starts to deplete. Lose your life bar and it’s game over.

It’s really quite simple to understand and this element adds a sense of urgency to everything you do. It’s basically a time limit, cleverly worked into the game to create tension. It works very well.

You’ll discover power-ups as you travel around and you can store them to get you out of hairy (no pun intended) situations. Often, the way in which you use these will make the difference between living and dying.

As you progress, you’ll level up RPG style. As you level up and gain new territory, the opposite sex will become interested in you and you can breed. Breeding allows you to carry your stats across to your offspring and in most cases you’ll have more than one offspring. More offspring equals an extra life. If one dies, you’ll gain control of the surviving one, where you’ll grow up and be able to breed again, thus extending your play.
 

My money’s on the lion.

The game has two main play modes:

There is a basic tutorial mode that you’re forced to endure upon your very first play and once completed you can choose between an episodic mission-based ‘Chapter mode’ and a survival mode. Oddly, the survival mode is actually the main game. You have to play this mode in order to find the mission files that open up the stories in the Chapter mode. This strikes me as a very strange move, as the chapter stories mainly seem to play out in a tutorial-like fashion and would be far better suited to being open from the off. By the time you unlock most of them, you’ve already learned to do the thing they try to teach you via your own trial and error.

The story mode is very important though, as it unlocks the animals for play within the survival mode.

It’s worth mentioning that the survival portion of the game can be played in multiplayer mode. This makes the game a little easier and is a very welcome addition. The missus and I had a great time playing it together .

Extra animals can be unlocked early via paid dlc. I’m not a fan of this method but as the game only costs £9.99 for us, I’ll let it slide. Especially as it was full-whack when it came out in Japan and they still have the same paid dlc in their version as us lot.
 

Money’s still on the lion.

£9.99 is still a considerable investment to make though. It’s a shame there’s no demo available, but due to the very nature of how the game is constructed, I really don’t think a demo would have been possible and I fully understand why Sony chose not to issue one.

I’ve read a lot of mediocre/negative reviews for Tokyo Jungle and whilst they’re all perfectly entitled to their opinions, I can’t help but feel they’ve failed to see the genius at work here.

Tokyo Jungle is a perfect example of a game that rewards you for the time that you invest into it. It’s a proper gamers’ game and I highly recommend it.

I could sing its praises until the cows come home (again, awful pun not intended).

Just buy it. It’s that simple.

Also, you can dress the animals up with hats and stuff.