AGAIN Eye of Providence (Nintendo DS) Preview

By Adam Riley 26.12.2009 8

Review for AGAIN Eye of Providence on Nintendo DS

Whilst CiNG may be well-known in Nintendo gaming circles for its work on Another Code: Two Memories and Hotel Dusk: Room 215 for DS, as well as the Wii release of Another Code: R - A Journey into Memories, the Japanese development team also worked on Glass Rose for Capcom on PlayStation 2, made several Japanese-only mobile phone games, worked with Marvelous Interactive and Town Factory on Little King's Story for Wii, as well as teaming with Tecmo for two Monster Rancher titles on DS. Now the union with Tecmo has been revived for a new portable mystery adventure called 'AGAIN: Eye of Providence.' With the game hitting Japan recently, and following on from Cubed3's interview with the development team, C3 decided to take a closer look to see if fans of Another Code and Hotel Dusk should put this on their ‘ones to watch’ list for 2010, when it is expected to be released in the first quarter.

A tragedy from 19 years ago is about to happen again and it is up to FBI agents Jonathan Weaver and Kate Hathaway to uncover the mystery. Thankfully Weaver has the ability to 'see' the past through visions. The 'past vision' system that Tecmo and CiNG have incorporated works perfectly thanks to the Nintendo DS dual-screen setup. Holding the system on its side, like a book, just as CiNG did with Hotel Dusk, players move the lead character around crime scenes using the directional pad to go backwards and forwards, as well as turning from side-to-side, whilst the stylus is used for looking around locations and a quickly double-tap on an area of interest to either bring up some descriptive text, or let the character add it to the inventory for use later. Once a special coin has been obtained at the start of the game, Weaver is able to see the present on the right-hand DS screen and the past on the other. Once finished with a crime scene, though, the game takes on an Ace Attorney style, with the lead character jumping from place to place with a touch of the stylus on the appropriate on-screen link, then interrogating witnesses and suspects, as well as reporting back to superiors and colleagues to further the case in a standard text-based conversational process.

AGAIN uses what appears to be a tweaked Hotel Dusk graphics engine for the investigative sections, with gameplay taking place in a first-person viewpoint and players wandering around 3D locations, interacting with their surrounding environment on a regular basis. The twist in the visual make-up of the game, however, is that rather than the standard polygons from Another Code or the pencil-shading of Hotel Dusk, AGAIN mixes a 3D polygonal world with real-life actors, creating a rather unique real-world-meets-gaming-world appearance that may have left many people with doubts from seeing early screenshots, but looks extremely impressive when actually experiencing it first-hand. The soundtrack is rather cold and unemotional during the standard conversation sections to mimic the feel of a criminal investigative situation, but at times the in-game music does develop into something more like the memorable themes of Hotel Dusk.

Screenshot for AGAIN Eye of Providence on Nintendo DS

In order to work towards solving the mystery in the investigation mode, there is a special meter at the top of the screen that allows Weaver to compare the present day scene to the past. It begins to run low if the incorrect location is focused upon, where nothing is different between now and the scene from 19 years ago, and should it hit rock bottom it is simply a case of 'Game Over,' with the player forced to try again. There is usually more than just the one time the 'past vision' is required in an area, but players cannot merely run around focussing on anything and everything to find the cracks in time. The 'Game Over' aspect has been implemented to encourage gamers to meticulously scour the scene for discrepancies between the 'now' and 'then.' For instance, at the very start of the game a bathroom door is locked, but in the past it appears open. Focusing on it reveals you can use a key found earlier on it to enter. Once inside, your past vision shows the shower curtain was open, but has now been drawn closed. Upon using Weaver's special talent, players are then given the chance to drag the shower curtain open using the stylus to reveal a gruesome message.

When not investigating, Weaver generally reconvenes at the office to go over details of the case with Hathaway and the rest of the team, which gives players the chance to take a break, save their data, ring people up, talk to various members of the team (such as Henry Mills, the Chief of the FBI's Special Crime Section) or head off to the next point of call. Those that have played past CiNG games, including the recent Another Code: R for Wii, will know very well that the developer does not hurl puzzle after puzzle at the player, instead choosing to flesh out the story as much as possible in the hope of drawing people deeper into the tale. AGAIN is no different, with long, drawn-out sequences that open up new threads of questioning for even more text-based shenanigans. Clearly those with a restless disposition will find this slow pace to be highly frustrating, yet those who can appreciate the slow-but-sure, methodical approach to unravelling new information, will be in their element playing through this finely crafted mystery. It seems that CiNG and Tecmo have created something that definitely warrants more attention than it is currently getting in Japan (shockingly only around 1,000 copies were sold in its first week). Thankfully AGAIN: Eye of Providence has already been confirmed for release in Europe and the US, so fortunately it will only be a few months until the full English-language version lands on Western shores. Be sure to keep a close eye on this potential gem.

Screenshot for AGAIN Eye of Providence on Nintendo DS

Final Thoughts

Whilst there are some elements of English in AGAIN, the majority of the game is totally in Japanese, so importers need to take that into consideration. From this early play-test it is clear that CiNG and Tecmo make a very good team and whilst the charm of Hotel Dusk and Another Code may be somewhat absent, AGAIN: Eye of Providence is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery adventure in its own right. Thankfully the wait for the US and European releases will not be long. March 2010 cannot come soon enough! In the meantime, do not forget to check out Cubed3's interview with Tecmo about AGAIN here: http://www.cubed3.com/news/13230/

Also known as

Again: FBI Chou-Shinri Sousakan

Developer

CiNG

Publisher

Tecmo

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

Comments

I should really stop playing this, since it'll spoil it somewhat when I finally get my hands on the English version, but I'm really enjoying going around interrogating people, heading to crime scenes to figure out what's changed between 19 years ago and now, then attempting to recreate the past scene by finding items dotted around in order to further the investigation.

I have a feeling this will appeal to Western gamers far more than Japanese ones. It's definitely been aimed at a Western audience...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
Jiggles (guest) 28.12.2009#2

The 'March 2010' that was seen in the latest AGAIN trailer was referring to the date that the story is set in, rather than the release date.

Although I do expect it to be released in around spring'10

It's been confirmed on several websites that Tecmo has confirmed it as coming to Europe in March 2010. Where did you read that the date was merely the time period setting of the story?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
Jiggles (guest) 28.12.2009#4

I can't say for sure that it won't be coming out in March 2010, but the story is definitely set in March 2010:

The Japanese TGS trailer(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA_zzz4B3vk) starts of with sequences from the 'incident 19 years ago' in March 1991, and then it flashes forward to the current setting in March 2010.

The same trailer in English (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsJcbmF07Ak), but the 'March 2010' near the beginning of the trailer makes it look like the release date. The end of the trailer only says '2010'.

So I think most websites have mistaken the 'March 2010' as the release date. Unless I've missed something, I've yet to see confirmation coming from Tecmo or Cing

Hmm, that's interesting. I wonder if it is indeed a case of people making such a mistake! Here's a snippet from the C3 interview as well:

Adam Riley: Tecmo has already confirmed that Again: Eye of Providence will be released in both the US and Japan. But when will the newly formed Tecmo Koei Europe be releasing the game in the European market?

Yamaguchi-san: It will definitely be released in Europe, but a firm date hasn't been confirmed yet at this point.


Perhaps you're onto something...Well, let's hope it doesn't take too long to come over. The English language version has been doing the rounds in France recently, so it's already translated. Shouldn't take too long to get it out to retailers, with any luck Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

In case anyone wants to see how the crime scene investigation works, along with a little puzzle, check out this video:

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
jax (guest) 04.02.2010#7

This looks so coooool . hope this & last window see a north american release

Trickless (guest) 21.02.2010#8

Like to point out that the new homepage is up, along with a new trailer.

http://www.againmystery.com

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