Master Detective Archives: Rain Code (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Az Elias 08.07.2023

Review for Master Detective Archives: Rain Code on Nintendo Switch

Kazutaka Kodaka's Danganronpa series is right up there as far as the best "whodunnit" mystery detective games go. Although venturing into different gameplay directions on a couple of occasions, the predominantly visual novels featuring a diverse cast of characters stuck in death game scenarios delivered a suspenseful set of stories that tugged on heartstrings and produced twists and shocks in equal measure. After leaving Spike Chunsoft to establish Too Kyo Games in 2017, Kodaka has teamed up with his former employers to bring a fresh take on the genre in Master Detective Archives: Rain Code.

Similarities to Danganronpa are apparent from the get-go. From the music to the character designs, the vibes of Kodaka's past works are strong. That's not strictly a bad thing - it's been quite some time since Danganronpa V3, after all, and fans have been eager for a new course of murder mysteries to solve. Master Detective Archives: Rain Code serves up a unique setting with its neon-soaked eternally raining city of Kanai Ward, but suffers in one too many areas to enable it to stand out from its predecessors.

Screenshot for Master Detective Archives: Rain Code on Nintendo Switch

Rain Code follows protagonist Yuma Kokohead (the names don't get any better, unfortunately), as a detective-in-training with amnesia (of course), who winds up in the aforementioned Kanai Ward, a secluded city cut off from the rest of the world and governed by corrupt forces. This dark yet vibrant metropolis is rife with unsolved cases, mostly of the murder kind. Following the familiar gameplay loop of plot, murder, investigation, case resolution, Rain Code generally plays out in the same basic way as Danganronpa.

Rain Code's main difference is in its fully 3D characters and environments, however. In third-person perspective, Yuma can run around the gloomy town, speaking to citizens, and examining points of interest. Controls and cameras don't feel very fluid - there is a fiddly aspect to the adventuring side of gameplay that shouldn't exist - but there is no question that running around in this environment is appealing. The way non-playable characters roaming about the place pop in and out quite amateurishly pulls you out of the moment, but the contrasting elements of bright neon lights and endless downpour create an atmosphere that feels like there are plenty of riddles hiding away in this secretive town.

Screenshot for Master Detective Archives: Rain Code on Nintendo Switch

Rain Code is a slow burner, though; it takes a long time to really get going. Although the opening act's murder case happens quickly, what follows is an unbearable amount of unnecessary dialogue and poor gameplay design in the form of the Mystery Labyrinth. The scene of the crime can be freely explored and examined for clues that get stored away for later use, but when it comes to getting to the truth of the incident, Yuma's annoying ghost partner, Shinigami, freezes time and brings him to a physical manifestation of the case's mystery - a giant labyrinth full of running.

What follows is an unforgivable set of linear corridors that would put Final Fantasy XIII to shame, as the control stick is pushed up for prolonged periods of time, with Yuma and his horny sidekick chatting away in this boring set of mazes. This is the substitute for Danganronpa's class trials, and they just don't compare. The idea is an interesting one - it just isn't executed in a way that makes gameplay compelling. The minigames that are contained within Mystery Labyrinths also aren't as fun or challenging, leaving this part of Rain Code feeling incredibly lacklustre.

Screenshot for Master Detective Archives: Rain Code on Nintendo Switch

With a smaller cast of characters that aren't all that likeable or believable, making it hard to become invested in their plights; bad lip syncing across cutscenes; as well as missable side quests and collectables that must be completed or obtained before proceeding to the next chapter, there are one too many negatives that make Rain Code feel like a poor man's Danganronpa.

On the flip side, it's a poor man's Danganronpa, and that's a good thing for those desperate for another whodunnit mystery game in a very similar style to Spike Chunsoft's successful franchise. This is a spiritual successor with plenty in common - for better or worse - but struggles to find its own footing. That all said, there is an argument to be had for sticking through Rain Code in its entirety, as the twists and turns that are in the last couple of chapters almost redeem its sometimes-predictable early cases. It's just a shame it takes a lot of effort to get there.

Screenshot for Master Detective Archives: Rain Code on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Rain Code falters in too many areas for it to be seen as a true or great successor to Danganronpa. There are sparks of light, such as its setting and the twists featured in the final chapters, but the ridiculously linear Mystery Labyrinths, poorly written characters, long load times and graphical issues set things back. Danganronpa and whodunnit fans will still find something worthwhile here, but wait for a discount.

Developer

Spike Chunsoft

Publisher

Spike Chunsoft

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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