Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed was published by Acquire and released in Japan on November 7th 2013 for PS3 and PS Vita, and July 3rd, 2014 for PS4. XSEED Games localized it for North America, which released August 12th, 2014 for PS3 and PS Vita, with a PS4 release coming November 4th, 2014. The review was on the PS Vita.
I was very surprised when I heard this game was getting a NA localization, since the premise is quite...obscure for many American gamers. The main character is Nanashi, a high school age boy living in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, Japan. The story begins with Nanashi learning that he was transformed into a Synthister, a vampire-like creature that feeds off the life energy of humans living within Akihabara. Not long after, another main character appears, a young girl by the name of Shizuku Tokikaze. A short tutorial battle ensues, after which there is more exposition, before finally opening the exploration portion.
The story revolves around the Synthisters and why they're feeding within Akihabara, as well as a lot of backstory on Shizuku. The main story is set in stone, however there are five 'routes' within it; these routes revolve around the affection level of five of the main female protagonists, and show different angles of the same general struggle.
The gameplay is fairly addictive. Outside of the visual novel portions, you have two additional angles: Exploration and Combat. Exploration sets you in a near perfect representation of the Akihabara district. Those familiar with Akiba (A diminutive of Akihabara) will delight in seeing some of their favorite locales within the game. For those not, it serves as a nice intro to the district, should one decide to travel there. Additionally, you can receive flyers in-game for real stores and cafés within Akiba, with a trophy for those who collect all of those flyers.
Combat within the game is deceptively simple. On the surface, it's quite basic: hitting Triangle targets the enemy's head, Circle hits their chest, and Cross their legs. The goal of this is to strip your opponents - being vampiric, Synthisters melt in the sun (though covered later in the story, and not relevant to events, by melting they turn back into normal humans instead of completely dying). Conversely, you also have to be mindful to not be stripped yourself, else you hit a game over screen - though the game allows you to redo any combat quest following, so long as you choose to continue. It's quite simple, until you factor in blocking and strip chains, and unblockable attacks, etc. For the unwary, it's entirely possible to be completely overwhelmed by your opponents on higher difficulties, but once you understand the nuances of combat, the game evens out in difficulty.
To add a level of depth, you can change your clothes and weapons to numerous different varieties. You can collect them from the NPCs that spawn in each zone - though you have to level up your Strip Skill for that clothing style. Without a maxed Skill, the clothing has a high chance to 'rip', rendering it useless to everyone and disappearing to the nether. Once it maxes, you can gather all the clothing to your heart's content.
Finally, there are two parts that pad the length of gameplay: Side Quests and the Battle Arena. The Arena is quite simple. Each level - F, D, E, B, A, and S, in order from lowest to highest rank - pits you against three groups of opponents, the goal being the same as any combat within the game: to strip the opponent. Early levels are populated with groups you can find wandering the streets naturally, while the final levels have unique gear that can only be found in the battle arena. Sadly, there is no way to repeat a set without restarting the game (I'll cover that slightly later), so be careful if you go in with less than max Strip Skills and want the unique clothing.
Side Quests function like any other game that has side quests; you accept the quest, and then complete it to the satisfaction of the giver. The side quests can be failed if you don't complete them in a timely fashion - usually within two or three story missions - so it's a good idea to complete them as soon as you accept them. They range from combat (There's an annoying man who runs around making train noises all day) to search quests (A maid cafe is opening and you're looking for new maids to work there). They all give money, so it's a good way to gain cash early on.
Last thing to cover are gripes. The game is fun, but unfortunately comes with some downsides. The combat sometimes causes the frame rate to suffer, and the hit detection sometimes misses the mark entirely. Once you figure out the timing, it doesn't affect the combat too much, but it is slightly annoying that one even has to learn how to move around the stuttering frame rate. Additionally, the game sometimes chooses to not load important quest targets - not a problem for Main Quests, which load when you enter the requisite area, but having to search an area for minutes at a time for a quest target that's standing in a corner that you checked right before is troublesome. A simple increase of loading precedence of these targets would solve this issue, but until then it's definitely an issue. Finally, the lack of a targeting system is my main gripe. During combat, not being able to target an enemy right next to you - instead preferring a target on the other side of the battlefield - was the cause of multiple game over screens for me. I would've liked a simple targeting system to make it much easier to complete quests.
Verdict: If you're in the market for an off-the-wall JRPG that may or may not be appropriate for others to watch you play, buy this. The few gripes I have are minor to the fun I had playing this. Also, being able to choose to play the game entirely in Japanese - in the English port - gives it a big boost for those who are learning the language. Very few English releases of JRPGs like this allow you to change the written language into Japanese, so being able to do it sets it above the rest I've found so far.