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The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story Review (Switch eShop)

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For those who had advised us in January that an FMV murder-mystery title would grow to be one among our most memorable experiences on the Swap this yr, we’d have checked out you as in the event you had been one among The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story’s prime homicide suspects. Directed by Koichiro Ito (state of affairs designer for Steel Gear Stable V) and produced by Junichi Ehara (NieR: Automata) at Sq. Enix, it by some means slipped our discover for some time like a intelligent killer skulking about within the evening, however we’re ecstatic to have lastly caught this perpetrator.

The Centennial Case revolves round Haruka Kagami, a thriller novel author, and Eiji Shijima, a scientist finding out the mobile ageing course of. After a skeleton is unearthed at Eiji’s ancestral residence, he asks Haruka to journey with him to analyze the mysteries that encompass his household, whereas he himself searches for a fruit handed down in his household that may halt the ageing course of.

Issues go rapidly awry on the Shijima property, thrusting Haruka (and by extension the participant) into the position of homicide detective. These murders don’t occur solely within the current; by way of artistic plot units — resembling Haruka studying a couple of homicide which occured a century prior — instances from totally different a long time play out like episodes from a Netflix drama with above-average manufacturing values. The revelations of those historic crimes present context to the principle narrative with a pleasant, blood-stained bow.

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We received’t spoil any greater than that. All the joy right here comes from uncovering the mysteries and fixing the murders for your self – belief us.

The Centennial Case contains a small solid of Japanese actors and actresses taking over a number of totally different roles. For instance, Nanami Sakuraba performs each 28-year-old Haruka Kagami within the current and 17 year-old Yoshino Shijima from a special time interval. An actor taking part in the sufferer in a single decade would possibly effectively be the perpetrator in one other, and that is true of the whole solid. All solid members give admirable performances in every of their numerous roles. Not as soon as did we discover ourselves confused as to who was who.

[Author’s note: my wife is Japanese and knew the whole cast quite well. Square Enix surprised her at the impressive amount of talent they had wrangled together here.]

The gameplay loop of The Centennial Case consists of three phases. The Incident Part showcases the occasions surrouding a homicide. Throughout this part, dialogue decisions appeared that allowed us to decide on Haruka’s response, however this had no discernible impact apart from retaining us engaged with the narrative. Typically, prompts to gather clues – urgent the ‘X’ button – appeared as effectively, however these distracted us from the story greater than something. Loads of extra notable clues glided by with out a immediate which rewarded us for paying rapt consideration. Fortunately, we might pause, rewind, or skip forward at any second.

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And listen we did as a result of the murders dedicated are wild. An early case contains a monster that wouldn’t be misplaced in an episode of Scooby-Doo. Resourceful killing contraptions and crimson herrings abound to distract you from uncovering the actual perpetrator. It’s all a bit campy in one of the best ways potential, particularly as a result of the solid performs it straight, although we discovered — fairly satirically given the detective work at hand — that slightly suspension of disbelief was required to hurdle some questionable leaps in logic.

The subsequent part, nevertheless, is the place our most important criticism arose. After the incident happens, it’s as much as Sakuraba’s character – whether or not Haruka or somebody from a special decade – to piece collectively the clues within the Hypotheses Part. This performs out as a easy matching minigame the place we needed to drag notable clues from the right-hand aspect of the display screen and drop them onto a hexagonal grid. Symbols adorn every tile to make this simpler, and we might rewatch all of the scenes at our leisure, however the course of had all of the appeal of a tedious jigsaw puzzle. We often had an concept of what occurred and who the suspect was, however we nonetheless needed to drag and drop tiles for 20 minutes earlier than we might transfer onto the conclusion.

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Following this, we entered our favorite part – the Answer Part. Right here, a dramatic musical rating builds pressure as Sakuraba’s character speaks to the gathered suspects, revealing clues earlier than declaring the assassin. It was as much as us to select from the hypotheses shaped to infer what had occurred. We typically discovered the outline of the hypotheses too imprecise, with a number of decisions virtually indistinguishable from the others, inflicting us to make a irritating mistake.

When a mistake was made, humorous or admonishing scenes occurred earlier than the sport booted us again to the Hypotheses Part. Happily, we might quick ahead again to the place we screwed up. There are not any alternate endings or divergent paths right here – we needed to uncover the singular line of reasoning to advance the plot. This added a little bit of pressure to our decisions, in order that once we selected appropriately we felt like absolute geniuses.

Our reward, which we adored, was when the villain (there’s just one per case) stole the highlight as soon as revealed to provide an over-dramatic clarification of their motives, drip-feeding us extra mysteries that we craved solutions for. After every Answer Part, we couldn’t wait to maneuver onto the subsequent incident the identical means we are able to’t assist however watch only one extra episode of successful TV collection, regardless of the tedium that awaited us within the Hypotheses Part.

Conclusion

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story is extra like watching a campy murder-mystery drama than taking part in a online game, and what gameplay there may be usually kills the story’s tempo. Whereas we loved our time with all of it the identical, you’ll must ask your self how you’re in watching what quantities to an honest Japanese TV collection with mediocre interactivity. For us, we received’t let one other FMV murder-mystery developed by Sq. Enix escape our discover once more, although we definitely hope they rework how we uncover the culprits.





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