Who doesn’t love a good mystery? That’s the presupposition that Tokyo Dark Remembrance builds off, the innate human desire to make sense of things on a small scale so as to ease our existential fear of things unknowable.
That combined with much people like video games is, of course, a match made in heaven. Stepping into the shoes of Detective Itō Ayami players are assigned the mission of finding her missing partner. However, things quickly take on a supernatural twist as their past comes back to (possibly literally) haunt them. Some kind of… dark… remembrance? In Tokyo?!?
The game is one part point and click adventure, one part visual novel. The core loop revolves around exploring various locations whilst interacting with the environment and other characters. The cast includes a grotesque array of degenerates. An early encounter with an old pervert who enjoys luring younger women into a drainpipe being especially unpleasant.
At times it can feel almost like a parody in its attempts at edginess but is consistently interesting, like a deranged Columbo fanfic. These moments feel at odds with the lighter moments, jumping from sex criminals to cute kittens within minutes. Regardless it succeeds at genuinely chilling moments, essential for a story in its genre.
The interesting twist is the S.P.I.N. system (Sanity, Professionalism, Investigation, Neurosis). Recalling the Sanity Meter from Gamecube classic Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem this concept alters the game’s ending depending on decisions made. A boasted thirteen outcomes encourages experimentation and adds an interesting replayability give the relatively brief length. This brevity is a positive, keeping the mystery plot well-paced and free of filler. An exciting early encounter requires you to make quick decisions in order to resolve a hostage situation. Weaker games give you dialogue options with an infinite amount of time to easily guess the best answer. Here you’re given very strict time restrictions. This way every choice feels desperate and vital.
The interface by which you interact with the world in Tokyo Dark Remembrance is unintuitive on consoles, feeling like it should really be experienced on with a mouse. This is especially disappointing on the Switch version for the absence of touch screen controls. This is especially a let down given how well it would lend itself to tablet-style play. The visuals are a mixed bag. Fascinating yet static backdrops with mundane anime-styled characters. A stronger visual identity would really tie the package together but the visuals certainly are clean and precise: a necessity for the genre. This Tokyo adventure may be dark but it’s certainly worth remembering.
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