It has always been a dog-eat-dog world out there. But when humanity disappears and animals are left to fend for themselves, the streets of Tokyo become a far more savage place, where former house pets must learn to hunt and kill much larger, more deadly animals to survive. The concept may sound grim, but Tokyo Jungle brings enough humor to its vision of the post-human streets of Shibuya to make the whole scenario pleasantly silly. That humor only goes so far, though; repetitive gameplay and frustrating difficulty issues make Tokyo Jungle an underwhelming glimpse at the future of the animal kingdom.
There are two modes of play in Tokyo Jungle: survival and story. In survival mode, you choose one of the animals you've unlocked and make a go at living on the rough-and-tumble streets of Shibuya. You roam dilapidated neighborhoods, hunting or grazing to survive as your hunger meter rapidly dwindles. You also mark your territory and mate before old age takes its toll. Years pass at a rate of one a minute, so you can't play as any one animal for too long. Therefore, it's in your best interests to improve your animal's stats as much as possible in a short period of time so that you can pass better qualities on to the next generation.
After you've marked certain spots in a neighborhood, you can mate there, though the quality of your mating partner can depend on your experience. If you've ranked up your animal sufficiently, you might entice a "prime" mate or at least an "average" one. If you haven't, you may have to settle for a mangy mate, and get the periodically paralyzing fleas that come along with such a prospect. Repeating the process of ranking up your animal, marking territory, and mating every 10 or 15 minutes quickly becomes a relentless, unrewarding grind.
You improve stats by completing challenges, which provide you with goals like killing a certain number of animals, eating a certain number of calories, or heading to a certain neighborhood. You can also find and equip gear that comes with stat bonuses. You might give your golden retriever a spiffy baseball cap or deck out your cat in a provocative pet bikini, bringing both a sense of style and a sense of humor to your gloomy plight.
Among the challenges available to each animal in survival mode are those that unlock other animals. To unlock cats, you must venture into a territory overrun with cats as a Pomeranian and reclaim it. To unlock golden retrievers, you must defeat the boss of the golden retrievers while playing as a beagle. The opportunity to unlock and play as a wide assortment of animals as you make progress in survival mode may seem like it would keep this mode fresh for quite some time, but the same simple challenges surface again and again for every type of animal, and usually the animals you unlock play almost exactly like the animals you used to unlock them.
As you roam the streets of Tokyo, you encounter a variety of other animals, some of which you can probably easily kill, and others you're better off trying to avoid. Combat is shallow. When an animal doesn't know you're there, an icon appears indicating you can pull off an attack that will likely kill your prey. There's some entertainment value in seeing a little Pomeranian fly through the air and kill a hyena with the savage grace of a cheetah pouncing on a gazelle in the wild, but soon, the simplicity of pulling off these kills prevents the process from being satisfying. Combat isn't much better when your enemies know you're there. You pound an attack button, do a quick evasive maneuver when your enemy is about to strike, and then go in for the one-button kill.