Master Detective Archives: Rain Code – Game Review


Master Detective Archives: Rain Code

(available for Nintendo Switch only)

Before we talk about this game, I feel it appropriate that we talk about the Danganronpa series. Danganronpa is a somewhat cult series developed by Spike Chunsoft which is a visual novel/detective game not unlike Ace Attorney. The series has been highly praised for its creative character design, gripping narrative and at times tense gameplay. Now it seems like the developers and its creator, Kazutaka Kodaka, have decided to move on from the series and create a spiritual successor to it with Master Detective Archives: Rain Code. I’m one of the many fans of the Danganronpa series, so I had a lot of expectations going into it. So, did the game give me what I hoped for? Or did it leave me in a heap of despair? Master Detective Archives: Rain Code was developed by Spike Chunsoft and Too Kyo Games and was released on 30th June 2023 as a Nintendo Switch Exclusive.

Story

In Master Detective Archives: Rain Code you play as Yuma Kokohead, a trainee from the World Detective Organization (WDO) who wakes up in a train station storage room with all his memories up until that point missing. He finds a letter from the WDO instructing him to board a train and meet the other Master Detectives there. From these Detectives he learns that they are going to Kanai Ward, a city that has essentially been cut off from the outside world and where it’s been endlessly raining for three years, to investigate the Amaterasu Corporation, who have essentially taken over as rulers of the city with their Peacekeepers, led by the vile Yomi Hellsmile, enforcing violent “justice” upon its residents. Sometime later, Yuma feels a wave of dizziness, causing him to pass out. A couple hours later he wakes up to find a strange ghost hovering over him, calling herself Shinigami and proclaiming to be a Death God who Yuma had formed a pact with, which was the origin of his memory loss. Skipping forward a bit (don’t worry about what happens during the trainride it’s all fiiiiine), the train stops at Kanai Ward and Yuma meets with Yakou Furio, and is led to a submarine which acts as the headquarters of what he calls the Nocturnal Detective Organization where he meets up with more Master Detectives. Later that night, they get a call from a man called Number One, the best Master Detective of the WDO, who gives everyone their order while they’re in Kanai Ward, to investigate and discover Kanai Ward’s Ultimate Secret and solve the Great Global Mystery. 

This story is a lot of fun. It’s not as twisted or sinister as Danganronpa but it does have its darker moments, and isn’t meant to be taken as seriously. I especially like the characters, they all have their quirks and are pretty one note in some way. They do not hide which ones you’re meant to like or absolutely detest, which matches the kind of story they want to tell.

Presentation

Aesthetically, this game looks pretty damn good. The city of Kanai Ward looks gorgeous, mostly due to the variety of neon colours present all throughout the dishevelled streets. As for the Mystery Labyrinths (more of those later), these look aesthetically pleasing for an entire different reason. While Kanai Ward looks deceptively calming, the Mystery Labyrinths are chaotic and full of bright colours, basically like you’re on a mild acid trip. Just like Danganronpa this game has some exceptionally creative and distinct character designs, each one being incredibly colourful and being a perfect representation of their own personalities. The voice acting is also really good, the actors are able to pull off the characters traits and personalities perfectly, with the standouts being Anjali Kunapaneni as Shinigami and Howard Wang as Yomi Hellsmile. Sadly, just like with a lot of Japanese games, the lip syncing has not been altered for an English release, meaning that during cutscenes you’ll be experiencing a lot of gaps between lines because the lip syncing hasn’t caught up yet. Frame rate, unfortunately, is a bit mixed. Most of the time it works fine, a couple drops but nothing major, though there are times where it really tanks, especially in handheld mode. The one bright side to this is that good frame rate isn’t that essential to the game, but it’s still annoying when it goes bad. The soundtrack to this game is very good, a lot of tracks sound like they were taken straight out of Danganronpa, a number sounding entirely unique to this game, there were even a couple that I’m sure took some inspiration from Persona 5. There’s a ton of variety, to the point which they could be from different games entirely, and I love it.

World Design

The entire game takes place in the city of Kanai Ward. The city is split into different segments, whether for a district of Kanai Ward such as the Kamasaki District or the Ginma District or for buildings that are important to the story like the Clocktower or Aetheria Academy. Each district isn’t too big, the most you’ll get in one is a couple of streets and upper walkways. You’ll only have access to a few areas at the beginning but you’ll be able to explore more the further into the game you go. Thankfully, you’ll be able to fast travel from one section to another from the pause menu (how you might ask? Yuma takes the bus… if only more protagonists thought of something simple like that). 

Investigation 

The main goal of this game is to solve seemingly impossible cases, these chapters are split into two parts, Investigation and the Mystery Labyrinth. The investigations are pretty self-explanatory, you search the crime scenes and talk to people who might have some connection to the victim or the case to gather clues and transform them into Solution Keys to be used in the Mystery Labyrinth later. Luckily gathering clues is fairly easy as the game will indicate what rooms still have clues that can turn into Solution Keys and will inform you when you’ve found all the ones available. Not every clue found will turn into a Solution Key as they won’t be entirely relevant to the case, though it’s still recommended that you check them anyway, because by doing so you’ll gain a small portion of Detective Points (EXP). Gathering enough Detective Points will increase your Detective Rank, nabbing you some Skill Points which you can use to purchase Skills to help you in the Mystery Labyrinth. 

Mystery Labyrinth

Considering how much I’ve been mentioning them, you’re probably thinking to yourself “What the hell is a Mystery Labyrinth?”, well buckle up because we’re about to delve into some chaotic nonsense. Mystery Labyrinths is this game’s equivalent to Danganronpa’s Class Trials, where you gather all the clues together to figure out the events of the case and reveal its culprit. Here you’ll take part in a series of minigames which rely on your deduction skills as well as under pressure, snap decision making. You’ll have a health bar that will decrease if you make wrong decisions or aren’t fast enough to figure out the right one. Now instead of going through all the minigames in this one segment I’ll give them their own mini segments so I can talk about them without making this one feel too bloated. I’ll also only talk about the ones that show up consistently, otherwise we’ll be here all day. Starting off with:

Reasoning Deathmatch

In my opinion, this is easily the best part of the game. Reasoning Deathmatches is another element that was borrowed from Danganronpa, this being a new rendition of that game’s Nonstop Debate. Periodically your path will be blocked by a Mystery Phantom, a manifestation of someone from the real world who’s trying to stop you from reaching the truth of the case. In this minigame the Mystery Phantom will present their arguments (half of which will be about the case, the other half are just insults) and will attack you with their words, quite literally. In order to survive the battle you must dodge the white phrases, by sliding from side to side, jumping or ducking, and find a phrase that one of your Solution Keys contradicts and use said evidence to strike back. Your opponent will also attempt to block your attack with red phrases, thus protecting themself from your Solution Slash, to combat this you just have to strike them normally and they will disappear. This minigame is a hell of a lot of fun, having to dodge attacks while also figuring out which phrases are  contradictions makes this mode super engaging and, while not as difficult as the Nonstop Debates, adds a type of difficulty that wasn’t there in that minigame. 

Quicktime Events

This game has a lot of quicktime events, both in Kanai Ward and in the Mystery Labyrinth. And personally – whether this was because I was also playing Final Fantasy XVI as well with those quicktime events being super easy or just because, I’m not sure – I honestly found them pretty damn difficult. The amount of time you have with each is pretty steep, to the point where I barely managed to figure out which button I had to press before I ran out of time – or at least in Kanai Ward they were. In the Mystery Labyrinth, this is where your snap decision making comes in as the game will ask you a question and present three options for you to pick, guessing the right one will let you continue, while picking wrong will force you back to your last question with you losing a small piece of health. Now these are quicktime events that I really like, they can be pretty stressful if the answer isn’t blaringly obvious and forces you to think about what happened previously in the case, basically forcing you to pay attention every step of the way. 

Shinigami Puzzle

This is yet another one that’s similar to a minigame in Danganronpa (the Hangman’s Gambit in case you were wandering). This minigame occurs when you find your path blocked by a question you don’t have the answer for, at which point Shinigami will climb into a barrel (don’t ask, this is a weird game), and you’ll be asked a question or have to figure out the missing word in a sentence. The barrel will have a series of letters on it and will rotate slowly, your task is to shoot the correct letters in the right order and figure out the answer to said question. If you’re unsure of the answer you can feel Shinigami a Solution Key, if it’s relevant to the question she will give you a vague hint, if not she’ll throw up and your time will get deducted. This minigame is fine. It feels amazing when you get that “AHA” moment and the answer becomes obvious, though there have been times where I really wasn’t sure, not helped by the hints making me ask more questions than giving me answers, and I would start to panic and just hit letters randomly hoping to get at least one right – that does work sometimes… but only after a couple of game overs. 

God Shinigami Rush

This is always the penultimate stage in the Mystery Labyrinths, where the culprits Mystery Phantom gets desperate in their attempt to hide the truth. This minigame is by far the easiest as well. Shinigami will grow to titan size and will rush towards a fortress that the culprit resides in. They will send a series of begs and insults in the form of steel balls, walls and spikes and you’ll have to press the right button for each one to avoid getting hit by them. They will occasionally throw a wall at you with a statement or question that can be contradicted by a Solution Key, all you have to do is select the right one and you can move forward. As said, this is really easy, the most difficult part is selecting the right Solution Key and I managed to do that almost every time. 

Deduction Denouncement

Now we come to the end of the Mystery Labyrinth, where all the clues have come together and all you have to do now is to sum up the sequence of events by placing the right tiles into a comic book. A number of panels will be missing and each one will have a question when your cursor hovers over it, all you have to do is find the panel that matches the question and stick it in there. Get the wrong one, the game will tell you straight away and you’ll lose a little bit of health if done. 

Flaws 

As much as I love this game, there are a fair amount of flaws that do have to be addressed. First of all, the game takes forever to load, we’re not talking Sonic 06 or Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex levels of bad, but it is close. In comparison, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom came out over a month before this game did and that didn’t take as long to load, and that is a much bigger game. Another is that the conversations tend to go on for a bit too long. I understand that the game is part Visual Novel, therefore you should expect long discussions, but I swear it takes twenty minutes for the Master Detectives on the train in Chapter 0 to introduce themselves. Finally are the side quests, throughout the game a number of citizens of Kanai Ward will need your help with a certain problem they’re having. The problem is that these quests are pretty boring and get tedious quickly, especially since all you really get for them are Detective Points. What makes them worse though is that if you move on to the main plot of said chapter without completing the quest, the game won’t let you finish it at a later date, marking the case as unsolved. I really don’t like that, as it basically forces me to complete the quest straight away if I want to solve it rather than letting me do it when I want. It reminds me a bit of the side quests in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, with you needing to do them before getting to the main story; granted it’s not as bad as that but the fact that I’m comparing them should be enough.

Conclusion

So, do I think that this game is as good as any in Danganronpa? Honestly, no. In my opinion, that series does almost everything better, better character design, a more interesting and darker story, and more engaging and difficult gameplay. That doesn’t detract from my feelings with this game however, as I still think it’s really great. It is a lot of fun, the mysteries are interesting, the characters are likeable and it’s really easy to get addicted to it. Yeah, I do wish that Spike Chunsoft and Kazutaka Kodaka would return to Danganronpa (which apparently they would like to do some day), but if this is what they want to work on going forward, then I’m certainly not going to complain. 

9.3/10

Elliot Chapman
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

Share This Post:
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Posted in Game Reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

The Next Axia6th March 2024
12:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Calvins Tweets

    Sorry, no Tweets were found.

Choose Category

Submit Guest Content

Submit your own "Reviews" or "Guest Content" by clicking on the icon, or click here.

Subscribe to Our Monthly Round-up

Get in Touch

To find out more, ask a question or book a consultation, get started by filling out the short form below:

Follow Us

If you are experiencing difficulties with the functionality of our website, please let us know by clicking the image above.