If there is one developer out there who knows how to make a crime-filled adventure game, its Cing. This tiny Japanese studio is responsible for one of the most praised DS games games out there, Hotel Dusk. The newest adventure from Cing and KOEI Tecmo goes by the title Again, which traverses their familiar ground by investigating witnesses and trying to catch the killer. The catch? The crime scenes are set 19 years in the past. And the main character has psychic abilities that let him see things in the past and present simultaneously.
At a first glance the story appears to be simple. You assume the role of Jonathan Weaver, an FBI Investigator who was the sole survivor of a series of serial killings 19 years ago by “Providence.” Flash-forward 19 years and someone has started killing again in the exact same fashion as Providence did 19 years ago. IS this the work of the same serial killer or someone new entirely? Is this crime story even worth picking up to find out? Lets take a look at the HOTs and NOTs of this title.
The only factor that can be pointed out as a “HOT” is the fact that this game will take you around 12 hours to complete. 12 hours of wasting your time, that is. Instead of 12 hours solving the mystery using the core gameplay mechanics such as the psychic ability or your sleuthing skills, you will spend 80% of that time reading. Then moving to a new location, clicking a new question, then reading again. You will be lucky enough to experience his psychic abilities for a good 10 minutes before you realize you need more evidence to complete the crime scene. That means moving to a new location, asking more questions, then finally returning to finish the scene.
The story would be bearable if it was not dragged down by the hours of text you will read at a time. The poor dialogue, and uninspired character cutouts that you stare at for those long periods are uninspiring. Sure there are plot twists and psychic abilities, but the fact that you can predict the ending and events after only an hour of playtime really ruins the experience. Not to mention. you only use your psychic abilities for a total of one hour. This “game” is more like reading a graphic novel than an actual video game with all the text you have to read . I believe they threw in interactive crime-scenes just so they could stick a $29.99 price tag on it and call it a “game” to avoid printing out full-sized books. After making Hotel Dusk, Cing should really know better than to make a game this uneventful. In fact, the biggest mystery is why Cing is nowhere to be found on the box yet its in the game. I would let KOEI Tecmo take all the credit they wanted if I were Cing and this poor excuse for a crime game was released.
The graphics all look like they were ripped out of an old PS1 game – I’ll go further than that and say they are even worse than that .We all know that the DS is capable of doing much better. The color palette is bland and you will constantly find yourself looking at different shades of brown when there is even color. The rest is a dull drab black and white. Its depressing to play this game just due to the fact that the graphics are so drab. Using such a boring color palette really sucks away from the feel and mood then leaves the game feeling lifeless. The characters are even worse. All of them are just photographs of “actors” given light animation to show mood – and even when they do show mood it at times does not even match with what they say. Oh, Detective Hathaway there was another murder? Then why are you laughing while pointing at me?
They must have pulled some of the strangest people off the streets and poured all of their production money into designing ridiculous wardrobes for all of them. The most entertaining feature of this game is to simply wait for the next character introduction, then laugh at their choice of clothing. These are the types of actors/actresses that would not even be able to make it into the lowest budgeted Sci-Fi movie. I’m willing to go out on a limb and even say Uwe Boll would reject these people!
I assume you bought this 30 dollar game and expected gameplay to progress your narrative. Nope you just bought a 12 hour graphic novel that includes mediocre gameplay that, in a whole, lasts about an hour. And when you do get to use your abilities, half of your DS turns muddy brown to produce a “sepia” tone. I get better sepia picture on my Metro PCS phone and that readers, is saying something. You will soon find the “spot the differences” segments wear thin fast and the puzzles are clunky and not very enjoyable. There is a catch to your psychic abilities though. If you click on five of the wrong things, Jonathan passes out and then you get to retry the investigation. Good news is that you will most likely never see the game over screen. It is near impossible to fail unless you try very, very hard. The game feels as if it needs to hold your hand and walk you through everything instead of letting you use your brain to solve the case.
The final verdict? Avoid this game like if it were a plague. It offers so little gameplay that it can barely be passed off as a video game. If you want a crime novel-esque game and want your money’s worth, look into Cing’s previous title, Hotel Dusk. If you have a PS3 and want something one more notch up, then pick up Heavy Rain. But unless you want more reading than gameplay, dull characters, predictable plot, or just have a good chunk of disposable income and really enjoy punishment, avoid this game at all costs. You’re better off reading a crime novel or watching Criminal Intent and CSI. As Cing’s last ditch effort to save themselves, they sure did make a big mistake with this one.AGAIN Review,