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Home Technology ‘The Centennial Case: A Shijima Tale’ evaluation: An FMV homicide thriller

‘The Centennial Case: A Shijima Tale’ evaluation: An FMV homicide thriller


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The Centennial Case: A Shijima Tale

To be had on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC and Transfer

Developer: Sq. Enix, h.a.n.d. | Writer: Sq. Enix

The ultimate time Sq. Enix introduced us a full-motion online game, it used to be, frankly, an unmitigated crisis. So it’s a courageous transfer for them to get again on that horse. Fortunately, the Jap writer has selected extra correctly with “The Centennial Case: A Shijima Tale,” a TV-miniseries-style homicide thriller that a ways higher demonstrates the potential for video video games that position an emphasis at the video. Whilst its cinematic and interactive parts don’t at all times meld convincingly, it serves up a tightly knotted story that are meant to pull you in with its dastardly deeds and awesome sleuthing.

The tale starts in present-day Japan, as upcoming crime novelist Haruka Kagami accompanies good friend and clinical adviser Eiji Shijima on a seek advice from to his circle of relatives house, hoping to take on the riddle of an unidentified skeleton not too long ago found out at the grounds. Prior to Haruka can poke her nostril into that conundrum, on the other hand, a contemporary homicide happens, adopted by means of a landslide that blocks off get right of entry to to the property. As tensions surge and the police stay bring to an end, it falls on Haruka to unveil the killer.

To know the entire image, regardless that, Haruka no longer handiest has to unravel this newest murder however rummage in the course of the circle of relatives’s historical past, consulting journals describing murders that return a century and seem to have hyperlinks to the Shijima title. One of the vital recreation’s six major episodes happen in flashbacks, relaying occasions in 1922 and 1972. The typical issue between them, you’ll quickly uncover, is the mythical “Tokijiku,” a fruit that supposedly grants everlasting early life to those that devour it.

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All however one episode revolve round a unmarried homicide and spread like a vintage Agatha Christie tale. In every episode’s first section, “the incident,” you’ll just about simply take a seat again and watch the display. The scene is about, and a small amassing of archetypal characters — the intimidating uncle, the formidable singer, the henpecked husband — recordsdata in, armed with hid motives and grudges. Then one turns up useless, and Haruka (or her previous equivalents performed by means of the similar actress) habits an investigation.

The tale then pauses, and also you’re whisked off to an summary area for the “reasoning” section, the place you lend a hand the detective get her ideas so as. Right here, pertinent questions and doubtlessly vital clues are represented as hexagonal tiles, and also you fit them in combination on a grid to shape hypotheses, which cause a brief animated collection imagining how occasions can have transpired. You may attach the query of the reason for loss of life, for instance, to a rock discovered mendacity close to the frame, which induces competing hypotheses — possibly the killer snuck up and intentionally smashed their sufferer’s cranium, or possibly the sufferer slipped and hit their head all through a scuffle.

While you’ve generated a wealth of such theories protecting approach, reason and alternative, the motion resumes with the “answer” section, that conventional climactic scene the place suspects take a seat in combination obediently in a room whilst the detective exposes the murderer amongst them. Optimistically, by means of now you might have a good thought of whodunnit and howdunnit, for the reason that detective’s large divulge speech will pause periodically for the participant to respond to a more than one selection query appropriately to stay heading towards the reality. Make a mistake, and also you get every other take a look at, however take a success in your ultimate episode ranking (and most likely your ego), a metric that doesn’t affect the remainder of the sport.

To begin with, this department of episodes into discrete levels turns out dangerous for “The Centennial Case,” because it frontloads every one with as much as half-hour of near-passive viewing (you get to make a couple of noncritical discussion alternatives, and press a button when a clue urged seems), so the live-action parts successfully need to get up as compelling TV.

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Thankfully, the standard of writing and performances is a lower above the ones in lots of live-action video games, which might be regularly hampered by means of low manufacturing values. Certain, you must steer clear of the English dub, the place makes an attempt to lip-sync the Jap performances result in staccato supply, and the tone is extra “Homicide, She Wrote” than “True Detective,” but it surely makes use of that hokeyness deftly to try figuring out winks at style tropes. Specifically, there’s a tongue-in-cheek tone to the performances, helped by means of a choice to redeploy lots of the similar actors as other characters in every duration, as they actually appear to relish switching from suspect in a single episode to sufferer or killer in every other. All come supplied with their best suspicious expressions, showing furtive glances and exaggerated surprise on every occasion their names arise in an investigation. Particularly scrumptious is the collection of lingering excessive close-ups you’re presented as you in the end make a decision who to accuse, the place every actor gulps, sweats and blinks nervously beneath the highlight.

The pick out of the solid, on the other hand, is Nanami Sakuraba as Haruka (and the detectives of the previous), taking the lead as a central personality who’s taking part in her likelihood to play investigator, pointing arms with the gusto of a Phoenix Wright objection. Her righteous bulletins within the answer section are delivered so optimistically, it’s all of the extra fun when your alternatives ship her down a blind alley, and she or he abruptly realizes she has not anything to again up her declare. Cue quizzical seems to be and an embarrassed halt from the triumphantly ascending backing tune.

The plotlines, in the meantime, are proficiently arranged, replete with guileful twists and partitions of misdirection. Sure, some revelations stretch plausibility, however regularly once I idea one thing didn’t upload up, I quickly discovered there were indicators pointing in that course in the end. Even clues presented early on that appear to steer nowhere might resurface and divulge their importance in next episodes.

One large impediment “The Centennial Case” faces is tips on how to make avid gamers really feel concerned, since its heavy reliance on dwell motion limits your enter. On that rely, it’s much less a hit. It carefully guides your hand all through, even in a past due bankruptcy that resembles a type of get away room puzzle and switches to a 3-D recreation engine so you’ll freely go searching. Connecting questions and clues is made more straightforward by means of patterns at the tiles that experience to compare, which is welcome whilst you’re no longer certain of the solution, however can flip reasoning into a type of jigsaw puzzle.

What can actually make or damage the equation, on the other hand, is how a lot you click on with the sport’s “pondering.” The detective’s catchphrase in Haruka’s novels is “the trail of common sense traces up,” however the questions actually is whether or not her trail of common sense traces up with yours, and I discovered the effects to be hit or miss. Once in a while a clue that I believed required in depth deliberation used to be slightly discussed within the reasoning section, or conversely, a sequence of questions wasted time on main points I discovered self-evident. Will have to it no longer cross with out announcing, for instance, {that a} sufferer mendacity in a pool of blood with a ferocious gash in her neck wasn’t clubbed mindless with a small wood field?

Mismatches passed off in dwell play greater than I anticipated too. In a single example, Haruka is requested how she may inform Eiji’s mom used to be his stepmother slightly than organic mom. The solution staring you within the face — she’s too younger! — isn’t some of the choices, for the reason that plot desires to pressure at one thing else. On different events, I selected a solution believing there used to be proof to enhance my pondering, handiest to be informed I used to be improper as a result of I suppose the writers hadn’t considered the similar perspective. And whilst normally I controlled to spot the proper perpetrator, no longer as soon as did I totally comprehend the “trick,” i.e. the convoluted approach used to dedicate the homicide a los angeles Sherlock Holmes, they’d used till I landed a couple of fortunate guesses within the answer section, and it’s irritating whilst you’re at all times partly resulted in the solution.

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Even so, I believe it is smart that the finale of a homicide thriller must maintain a degree of, smartly, thriller, and it’s a testomony to the intricacy of the plots that they don’t prise open comfortably. The entire clues you wish to have are there in some shape or every other, but it surely used to be handiest in hindsight that I may see how the few items of proof I couldn’t somewhat provide an explanation for have been key to slotting the whole thing in position.

Most significantly, in spite of its obstacles, “The Centennial Case” is a extra compelling mystery as a result of its interactive parts. I used to be willing to find the place every tale ended up, no longer handiest because of the cast scripting and cinematics, but additionally for the reason that reasoning and answer levels inspired research, asking me to query the assumptions I may make when simply gazing TV. As soon as the idea that of looking for hypotheses is planted to your thoughts, you’ll’t forestall producing them, even all through incident levels.

Possibly, in the end, it’s important to settle for with “The Centennial Case” that you simply’re no longer such a lot Sherlock Holmes as Dr. Watson, providing up concepts that could be taken on board by means of the true superstar, or given quick shrift. For those who don’t thoughts taking part in 2nd mess around to its advantageous solid and weaving plotlines, there’s masses right here to stay you gripped. As with every excellent TV homicide thriller, the intent is to stay audiences guessing. “The Centennial Case” must stay you guessing all through.

Jon Bailes is a contract video games critic and social theorist from the United Kingdom. He’s creator of Ideology and the Digital Town (0, 2019), and can also be discovered on Twitter @JonBailes3.


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