Let’s find out together, in this dedicated review, what are the strengths and weaknesses of Master Detective Archives: Rain Code, the spiritual sequel to the Danganronpa series that recently arrived exclusively on Nintendo Switch
Ever since we said goodbye to the Danganronpa series with Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony way back in 2017, we’ve been in limbo waiting for investigative visual novels of that heinous caliber of madness and little bits of genius. Although, in fact, V3 was definitely the most divisive episode among the fans, especially due to an almost alienating ending at times, the closure of the Spike Chunsoft series hurt many. So you can well understand that when Rain Code was officially announced, our little hearts jumped hard. Not so much because it’s the “spiritual” sequel to Danganronpa, not so much because Spike Chunsoft is back behind it (this time joined by Too Kyo Games), but because we were definitely hungry for something that really reminded us of that kind of adventure. Welcome to our Master Detective Archives: Rain Code review.
High Society City | Review Rain Code
Kanai Ward. A city harassed by perennial rain (literally, it hasn’t stopped raining for years) and controlled by a gargantuan global corporation capable of not only keeping an entire city in check, but also to mislead reality and truth as best suits one’s purposes. We were saying, Kanai Ward is the setting for a large part of Rain Code, if we leave out the prologue in a train (very veiled and very quiet reference to Agatha Christie).
Our protagonist, Yuma Kokohead, a young and minute amnesiac boy, finds himself in Kanai Ward. Yuma remembers absolutely nothing of how he arrived at the station, he only knows that he has a train ticket to the city in his pocket and is therefore forced, in the absence of any other option and with strange voices buzzing in his head, to follow his only lead. This track will lead him to discover himself as a member of the World Organization of Detectives, as well as the stipulator of a contract with Shinigami, a rather buxom Goddess of Death dressed in Goth clothes. Yes, just her, the one from the trailers.
Q The Surreal | Review Rain Code
It will be Shinigami himself to guarantee Yuma the possibility, whenever he finds himself entangled in some case of murder, to access the Labyrinths of Mystery, real Mental Palaces (which could recall, in terms of idea, those of the Persona series, especially the fifth chapter) in which the hidden truth lurks behind the vulgar machinations of the culprit, ready to do anything to hide it. We do not want to spoil your experience in any way, so we do not reveal any other details of any kind regarding the plot, nor the cases.
This is because, net of the many defects that we will see in the course of this review, Rain Code was conceived by the same authors of Danganronpa who, basically, know how to do one thing excellently: tell a story. Twists everywhere, dramatic moments that alternate with Shinigami’s sarcastic and fiery jokesas well as a perennial tango with death permeating the entire production. If we were to rely exclusively on the narrative and how this was handled in Rain Code, in this review we could easily stop here and give Spike’s work full marks. Unfortunately, however, this is not the case.
Tremolo Horizon | Review Rain Code
Let’s start with the basics: the investigation phases. These take up all the chapters of Danganronpa very much and are quite intuitive, albeit perhaps a little too guided. We will have to investigate the various crime scenes and all those related to it, paying attention to the small details and collecting the various Solution Keys (similar to the Danganronpa Bullets) which we will then have to use in the Labyrinths to discover the truth. The cases are all quite diversenot particularly complex and definitely a cut below those of the second chapter of Danganronpa (but also of V3), but let’s give time to time in this case.
To interrupt the rhythm of an interesting, complex and convoluted narrative too much, two gameplay elements intervene that are not exactly managed in the best possible way. The first is undoubtedly the exploration of Kanai Ward who, if in the first place fascinated us and distracted us from following the main thread, thanks also to a long list of secondary ones, on the other, it loses its attractiveness already in the second case. The city does not appear particularly lively and teeming and, apart from the long sequence of secondary tasks all very similar to each other and which do not add much spice to the production, there is little else to do (just a few collectibles). For the sake of completion, however, we explore it. And the rhythm stops.
Off Course Capital | Review Rain Code
The second is, unfortunately we dare to say, the management of the Labyrinths of Mystery. Inside of, Yuma will have to walk long corridors chatting with Shinigami (who is not this great interlocutor, we admit it) or simply by being silent. A simple way to hide the uploads, certainly, due to the fact that the game was released exclusively for Nintendo Switch which we know very well to be a console that is not too performing for today’s productions.
If we add to this a shortage of mini-games, it’s always those four or five that go round and round, e a certain basic repetitiveness that is perceived from the very first hours, you will understand well why we often found ourselves skipping the exact same cutscenes or speeding up the less interesting dialogues. A real shame because, basically, the story of Kanai Ward (mind you) is really interesting, full of twists and mysteries. A footnote to this speech: the exact same things could be said of the first chapter of Danganronpa, to which the game obviously refers not only in terms of style, but also in terms of mechanics. We therefore hope that, as was Trigger Happy HavocRain Code can become the stepping stone to addictive and awe-inspiring gameplay as seen in sequels to Spike Chunsoft’s previous series.
Umbrella Market | Rain Code review
Technically speaking, Rain Code is essentially a video game designed and conceived for Nintendo Switch. So don’t expect a production in step with the times: relatively low-detail textures, basic animations, recurring (and not too short) loads and rather frequent frame rate drops are obviously the order of the day. To compensate for all this there is an excellent art direction: Kanai Ward skilfully mixes noir elements of old black and white detective films with others more markedly Cyberpunk. In short: it is not exactly splendid to see, but to imagine, yes.
Sonically we have some notes to make. In fact, if the soundtrack seemed suitable for the production, with some particularly successful tracks, we noticed a small and big problem with the English dubbing (chosen by us, oh we played Danganronpa with it we couldn’t miss it): is completely out of sync with the cutscenes. Something that we hope will be fixed with future patches, but the game has been out for some time now so we’re seeing it tough.
In short, we close this review of Master Detective Archives: Rain Code by rewarding not so much the production itself, which is decidedly lacking and unbalanced from various points of view, as much as the idea behind it and Spike Chunsoft’s innate ability to create crazy and damned interesting stories. The prerequisites for having the same qualitative rise as the Danganronpa series are all there, as well as the will to innovate, change and seek new ways to tell and tell oneself. Come on Spike, we believe it!
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is currently available exclusively for Nintendo Switch. Let us know if you have played it below in the comments, we will continue to keep you updated with all the gaming and tech themed news, guides and reviews! And if you are interested in game keys at advantageous prices, we suggest you take a look at the Kinguin catalogue!
A starting point, but we want more!
- Engaging narrative full of twists and turns
- Outstanding art direction
- Danganronpa vibes!
- The exploratory phases are not yet convincing
- The Labyrinths of Mystery are too drawn out
- Technically just enough
- Few minigames