Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE

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Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE – Review

Nintendo Switch has been my home for alternative games, and the brand-new title from Tookyo Games and Spike Chunsoft fits that category beautifully. Master Detective Archive: Rain Code is a modern-day supernatural mystery game that puts your deductive skills to the test in some outlandish and unique ways.

This single-player title is a riveting Nintendo exclusive to add to the impressive list that Nintendo already offers, with a unique nature to the storytelling. You play as the main protagonist, Yuma Kokohead, and he finds out about the weird and whacky world he finds himself in at the same time as the player. An unfortunate spell of amnesia has left you struggling to recollect how you became a Master Detective and an untimely massacre leaves you little time to waste in figuring that out. For better or worse, you are not alone, as a Death God named Shinigami has attached herself to you, and her morals are an adjustment, to say the least.

The opening prologue is a long one but the level of detail it goes into to start fleshing out the gameplay loop was impressive. There is a heavy emphasis on written elements being the lion’s share of the experience, and having options to review the entire conversation’s dialogue was helpful when scouring for details.

An easy-to-access menu can be brought up with the ‘Y button’ that updates character profiles after each conversation, and the clues that can be inspected have their own section as well. To help find these clues as you explore the environment, inspectable items will be highlighted. They are fairly obvious to find, but what to do with them is the real puzzle.

The character interactions can vary, from a series of questions to simply taking in their stories. Despite having a mature rating, MA15+ in Australia, the topics can be rather safe considering they can be talking about a corpse that has been burnt to a crisp. Shinigami, your spiritual sidekick, is enthralled with the stench of death and reveals in making Yuma squirm at her sexualised dialogue depending on which form she takes. It was a really mixed bag and fluctuated between young adult fiction to earning its mature rating. The variety in character troupes though was deeper than just personality traits – each Master Detective you come across has a Forte which ranges from supernatural hearing to medium communication with the dead or spectral projection to pass through walls.

Everything that you collected along the way, whether it be dialogue, clues, or the aid of another Master Detective and their forte, manifests in the Mystery Labyrinth. This is a separate plain of existence that happens towards the end of the case and can feel a little on rails at times. This fun house of madness style of environment causes suspects or notable persons in the case to take on exaggerated forms of themselves as Mystery Phantoms. The fights, or “Reasoning Death Matches,” consist of using clues you have formed into solution keys that can be inserted into your weapon. Statements are thrown at you, quite literally, with words flying toward you.

The words in white need to be dodged and the words in red can be countered with your clues in an attempt to contradict their statement. Having to rotate the keys in real-time to the right clues while trying to read the words flying at your face was engaging and sometimes punishing. The labyrinth itself also poses ultimatums that can make you second guess yourself, despite having clues to back up your statement.

The way the questions are worded can derail your chain of thought easily. You have a stamina bar that will continue to go down the more mistakes you make, and at the end of the Labyrinth, you are graded based on how well you played your cards.

There are further mini-games that Shinigami brings you to which can recreate a scene from your memory or, well, shoot holes in a barrel that she is hiding in to spell out a word, all while wearing a bikini. Two vastly different types of mini-games, yes, but this game is filled with variety, and its own unique sense of humour was part of the charm.

The four difficulty settings drastically affect you in the Labyrinth portion of the game, as it affects the speed of the activities and how punishing it is when you slip up. These difficulty choices, I feel, heavily influence your choice on the skill tree.

These could range from increasing your stamina in the Labyrinth, eliminating an incorrect solution key, or increasing your dodge speed. There is a limit to what you can equip as well, so certain cases may take some forward thinking on how you want to approach the encounters.

The comic book style design in the menus and the light cell-shaded graphics on the characters was a smart choice given the limited power of the Switch. Ironically, I felt the handheld version held up better, as playing on the big screen was blurrier than when in the handheld mode. The dialogue choices looked like torn pieces of paper but the menus themselves were organised neatly to help find information quicker.

The city of Kanai Ward was a fantastic setting though; a city drenched in never-ending rain, with shimmering neon lights coating the city in a futuristic noir setting that added to the mystery. The drawn-out and sombre tones are fitting while exploring, and the ominous and unsettling background music can rise with intensity during the Mystery Labyrinth.

Master Detective Archive: Rain Code throws you into a labyrinth of wonder and makes you question yourself at times. There were feelings of being pulled through the game in a linear fashion at times, however, seeing a case unfold in front of you in a twisted alternate reality continued to deliver. The bright and vibrant personalities in a gloomy and desperate city make your time spent well worth the journey.

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The Good

  • Reasoning death matches were engaging
  • Rain-soaked neon city looked amazing
  • Story filled with twists and turns
  • Long and in-depth cases

The Bad

  • Mature nature of dialogue fluctuates
  • Portions of the game are far too linear

Written by: Shane Fletcher


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