Games that are released in Japan can be interesting. They do have a unique style that can seem pretty out there to the casual western gamer. Visual novels are very popular in Japan and probably one of the most notable ones that I have played is the Danganronpa series. Sadly a lot of these go unplayed in the west as they don’t normally get popularity or released outside of Japan. Spike Chunsoft has brought us 428: Shibuya Scramble, a visual novel released back in 2008 in the east. So let us take a look this and see what it is all about.
Developer: Spike Chunsoft Co. Ltd
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft Co. Ltd
Release Date: 21 September 2018
Thanks to the publishers for the review code.
428: Shibuya Scramblejumps straight in to the kidnapping case that you must solve. Maria Osawa has been kidnapped by a major criminal organisation and her family have been given a ransom demand. You play the game and will find yourself taking the role of a detective called Shinya Kano who is assigned to help. You will also meet a young man Achi Endo who will be very integral to the storyline of Shinya Kano at various points.
The meeting of these two characters as the games story unfold is shown on the time chart. This is basically split into 1 hour segments that then break down into five minutes slots. Some of these are just giving you some insights; while others are decision making points that decides where the game is going. You can’t jump through the timeline unless you complete the previous five minute slot. The story is shown via live action still shots which have some text accompanying it to let the player know what is happening. Though get to a critical point and you will be greeted with a FMV sequence.
While the FMV’s are only limited in the game, they do add a dynamic atmosphere to the game as it might be you are watching a secret conversation happening in the bathroom. After the opening storyline is played out with the detective and Achi, you will see three more protagonists and their timeline unlocked on the time chart. The other main characters are a Virologist, the father of the kidnap victim and a woman stuck in a cat suit.
You get to dip in and out the timeline of these people as the story unfolds and you also notice that there are a few secondary characters that seem to come along randomly. Decisions must be made on the storylines otherwise the story won’t move forward. While these might not have a major impact on the main plot, they do influence the next dialogue.
So that you know when the game requires your input to make a decision in the story the paragraph of text will have sentences in blue. When you see this, you press the button and if you have selected the right response you will progress the story. The prompts are easy miss sometimes and if you do, you won’t get the next clue so you will hit a dead end and have to go back to work out where you went wrong to progres.
The writing for this visual novel is very good. The characters are very likable and as you progress you begin to feel for them and by the time you get half way through the game they will feel like your friends and won’t want anything to happen to them. The story arc is just right and when you get to the end and you get the epilogue and credits you will feel a complete sense of achievement and also you will have a sad feeling that it has ended and you will get no more time with the amazing characters. I haven’t given a deep review as I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who has yet to play it.
Visual novels have always been popular in Japan, but not always in the west. Sadly because of this we do get to miss some excellent games as they don’t get the translation. This is a ten year old game that still plays well and while you might find yourself getting frustrated with trying to get to the end, the feeling if completion outweighs this frustration.