As someone who never really got into the Danganronpa series, Master Detective Archives: Rain Code meant an entirely new experience. With that being said, the game draws inspiration from many well-known titles. Games like Persona and AI: Somnium Files all pop up throughout Master Detective Archives but the game is a detective experience with a bucket load of personality.
In Master Detective Archives: Rain Code, you play as Yuma Kokohead who one day wakes up with no memory whatsoever. After realising that he needs to catch a train, Yuma boards it only to be introduced to a handful of detectives who are quite proficient in their craft.
Not only are these detectives incredibly good at their job (from how they come off at the get-go) but they also possess a unique ability called “Forensic Forte”. Yuma, in a way, also has his own powers mainly because he is bound to a Death God called Shinigami.
The long and short of Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is solving mysteries and crimes by gathering clues and after setting up a case, heading off to a Mystery Labyrinth to solve the crime. However, unlike other detective games such as Sherlock Holmes, Master Detective Archives: Rain Code puts the whimsical on the front end by delivering this dungeon-like gameplay where the case is literally a labyrinth you have to get through – a metaphor for the case on hand so to say.
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is also a dark game. The cases on hand are teeming with violence, suicide and loads of over-sexualised characters. There’s even a guy named Swank Catsonell that looks very similar to Hitler. While you spend a lot of time tackling different missions, there is an overarching plot in the game that pops up every now and then before reaching its climax at the end.
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code also works on a time system. Players only have a certain amount of time to complete each case and even come up with the next steps to progress the investigation. This is obviously very close to the Persona series but a lot easier. I never felt like the game ever held the time against me. Instead, I felt like I had more than enough time to take on each phase of the case without feeling overwhelmed by the time limits.
Then again, Master Detective Archives: Rain Code did hold my hand way more than I expected. While this is a detective game, I didn’t feel like I was doing much crime-solving for myself. Instead, the game would tell me where to go and who to speak to without any real train of thought piecing it together myself. It would have been nice to have more control over how cases played out instead of the game solving them for me by telling me exactly what to do next.
Even the labyrinths become rather tedious and boring after a while. There are some combat encounters to deal with but the long corridors and little gameplay variety felt off-putting. The combat is also incredibly easy. Encounters saw me dodge sentences and phrases from enemies which tied to the current case I was investigating.
If I didn’t destroy the words or dodge in time, it would cause damage to my stamina bar. However, the damage is almost non-existent. So much so that I never felt like I was in danger of dying. These labyrinths also include a range of mini-games to complete and while they are also fun at first, they repeat themselves quite often and result in tedious gameplay.
There are some obvious ups and downs in Master Detective Archives: Rain Code. The downs come thanks to the boring padded gameplay that constantly gets in the way of the narrative. Things like repeating the same mini-game or running down a corridor for five minutes. There’s also little satisfaction to have when a game hands you everything instead of being forced to think.
The ups then come in when a case ties together. After spending a few hours collecting clues and going through the mind-bending story, to see a case all come together and in turn, confirm my suspicions made the journey worthwhile.
There’s also a lot to do outside of the case-solving. Between cases, I was able to explore the city, take a trip to my submarine base and more. These moments acted as a much-needed break in the game. It gave me time to breathe before I started another case.
It does help that the writing in Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is good. It carries the experience and even during the most monotonous moments, I pushed on because of how attached I was to the characters and the story.
With that being said, I only really pushed through this game for the review. If I picked this up myself, I would have abandoned it quite early into the game. It just wasn’t detective enough for me. I wanted more control over the game, the case and the plot. Unfortunately, it is far too scripted and accessible for my liking.
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code isn’t a bad game though. You know what you’re getting here. It is one of those whimsical detective games oozing with charm and that Spike Chunsoft personality you’ve come to expect from the brand. I hoped for more puzzle-solving and fewer random mini-games but the overall narrative is strong enough to carry this game through to the end.
This Master Detective Archives: Rain Code review is based on a code sent to us by Nintendo. It is available from 30 June only on Nintendo Switch starting at R1185
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code Review
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code has some great storytelling even if its detective features never really make you feel like you’re solving anything by yourself.