Released in 2001, Oni is a video game developed by Bungie West. Available for Windows, Mac OS and Playstation 2, it’s a third-person action game with hand-to-hand combat heavily inspired by Mamoru Oshii’s movie Ghost in the Shell. You might think this soon after learning that the protagonist’s name, Konoko, sounds pretty much like an adaptation of Motoko.
The story happens around the year 2032, in a dystopic world where pollution made habitable places too rare. In order to solve the international economic crises, all countries combined their forces into a single organization named World Coalition Government. It is an Orwellian institution. It manipulates information about the toxic regions and uses corrupt polices forces (Technological Crimes Task Force, TCTF) to suppress opposition. In the beginning, the protagonist works as a TCTF special agent, but soon she realizes her employers have been keeping secrets about her past. While fighting against the police and their main enemy, a criminal organization called the Syndicate, Konoko discovers more details about her family and origins.
In Oni you can see that, at first, Konoko follows TCTF rules as faithfully as Motoko does for Section 9 in Ghost in the Shell. Their partners are also alike, for instance Konoko’s chief Commander Terrance Griffin, which is a quite perfect depiction of Aramaki. However, she is also supported by a Simulated Life Doll (SLD, an android) named Shinamata, who is constantly giving advice and new information about the missions.
As you may already had noticed, this is an old game, so you won’t find amazing graphics or the conveniences of the latest releases and there are a few minor issues worth noting. You will need to get used to Oni‘s savepoints (which are quite infrequent), which can add to the difficulty and get a bit annoying. Also, Konoko carries only one gun at a time, so you will need to explore her amazing and vast combat moves to defeat the enemies.
Through the gameplay you will experience the interaction between the characters like in an old RPG game, where a static emotive avatar of the character shows their reaction rather than expressing it via sprites. These are some of aesthetic choices that were already criticized by people by the time of Oni‘s release. But it seems the players liked Oni so much to the point that, seven years after, they published an anniversary edition mod that enhances the graphics. There are also several other mods available online which you can check in their wiki page.
Oni isn’t available on Steam or GOG.com, so you’ll have to hunt for a second-hand copy. It’ll be worth it, though!