Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is a game that will certainly appeal to fans of the Danganronpa franchise. With its intriguing premise, engaging narrative, and colorful cast of characters, it offers a unique gameplay experience that combines visual novel storytelling, exploration, and puzzle-solving.
The game begins with the protagonist, Yuma Kokohead, waking up with amnesia in a storage room in a train station. Yuma is a Master Detective, but due to his amnesia, he has no idea of his identity or mission. The train he finds himself on is heading to Kanai Ward, a major autonomous city that is cut off from the rest of the world and ruled by a major corporation, Amaterasu. In this city, the sky is always raining, hence the game’s title: Rain Code.
The first case in the game begins right after the prologue as Yuma meets other Master Detectives on the train. There were supposed to be five of them, but six show up. This leads to the speculation that one of them is an imposter, but who? The game sparks curiosity right from the start by offering an interesting case with a lot of twists. However, while the first case is fun and mysterious, the rest of the game falls short of the mark. It is still enjoyable to play through the complete story, but after the strong prologue, it falters in the later chapters.
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code features a World Detective Organization that Yuma is a part of, along with other Master Detectives. Each of these detectives has a special ability, also called their forte. This allows them to use spiritual and magical powers that they possess like the ability to hear sound from a distance, summon a ghost of a deceased, and so on. Yuma is also able to talk with a death god, Shinigami, who can read his thoughts and provide support.
The gameplay of Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is a blend of visual novel storytelling, exploration, and puzzle-solving. Yuma can visualize mysteries in a physical form, a feature that is represented in the game through the Mystery Labyrinth. In these segments, Yuma explores a physical representation of the mystery, collecting clues and piecing together the truth to uncover the real culprit behind the crimes.
The game also features RPG-like mechanics, where Yuma can interact with various characters and environments. The city of Kanai Ward serves as the main hub for these interactions, with various locations to explore and characters to converse with. The game’s narrative is heavily influenced by the player’s choices and interactions, leading to different outcomes and revelations based on the player’s decisions.
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code, unfortunately, struggles to step out of the shadows of Danganronpa, so a comparison is inevitable. While the game starts strong, it doesn’t manage to hold up as well as the other Danganronpa games. It offers an engaging narrative and a colorful cast of characters. The Mystery Labyrinth, where players visualize mysteries in a physical form, is a unique gameplay element that adds a layer of complexity to the investigations. This mechanic, combined with the exploration of the city and interactions with characters, creates a gameplay experience that is both challenging and engaging.
While the game is structured more as an adventure, it offers some degree of freedom with the ability to explore the city. Talking to the cast of characters can influence the narrative and provide a different outcome. Yuma also has detective skills that level up the more we interact with different objects and characters, which encourages the player to explore more. Players can explore the city of Kanai Ward and various locations within it. This exploration aspect allows players to discover new clues, engage with different characters, and uncover more about the game’s world.
A minor technical issue I noticed was related to the English VO. The facial animations don’t always sync up with the English voice lines which can be a little jarring. The limitations of the Switch hardware mean the game doesn’t look that great with a blurry look, but the artwork is great and the visual style holds up well despite a low resolution, It is best played in portable mode which suits it well. Overall, Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is a game that offers a unique and engaging experience, despite its shortcomings.