428: Shibuya Scramble Hands-On: Flawless Detection, On the Case

428 SS_smallA little game history goes a long way, folks. Chunsoft pioneered the visual novel game way back in 1983 with Yuji Hori’s The Portopia Serial Murder Incident and over the decades since, the company, now known as Spike Chunsoft has released a number of quality visual and sound novel titles primarily for Japanese audiences. Visual novel fans here in the west probably know them best for some solid titles that have managed to make the trip overseas such as the Danganronpa, and Zero Escape games on consoles and handhelds, along with the upcoming Steins;Gate, AI, YU-NO, and Zanki Zero games set to arrive soon on a few platforms. Yes, they’ve also done a bunch of other (and better known) non-adventure game classics. But as you’ve gone and clicked that link above, you can do that extra bit of homework yourself. Me, I’m here to chat up this spectacular new but old number you’ll absolutely want to check out.

 

(Thanks, Spike Chunsoft!)

 

Another game on the way is the stellar formerly Japan-only visual novel from 2008, 428: Shibuya Scramble, finally headed stateside for PS4 and PC on September 4. There’s a great demo out now on PSN that pulled me in right from its 70’s-sounding opening theme and had me playing through to both endings with a huge smile on my face. While it’s only a taste of what’s to come, the blend of text adventure, still photos and brief full-motion video clips makes this a quite impressive achievement even ten years after its release. It’s more or less a “choose your own adventure” game, but one where a failure state doesn’t necessarily end the game at all, but unlocks new story elements.

 

As you can see above, the game grabs you right away with a catchy main theme and sharp HD looks as the story plays out. The game as aged not a day since its 2008 release (well, other than those “ancient” phones and some fashions) and I first thought it was a completely new game until I did some homework. I’m going to shut up after this and just let you guys and dolls watch the rest of the gameplay videos below to see for yourself how great this game is.

 

 

Okay, the reason there are four videos here is I didn’t think the game would branch off the way it does and have you dip back into the timeline a few times to get both the protagonist’s stories. I actually recorded that first video last after going through first story and (oops) forgetting to record the gameplay. Duh. Well, that and YouTube only lets me record and hour unless it’s a live stream and I didn’t want to get caught up in the game and have time run out.

 

 

The nice thing is, save data from the demo will carry over into the final version so those of you playing this will get a bit of a head start for that first “hour” of gameplay.

 

 

Well, that’s pretty much it for the demo portion of this game, but I’m in the mood to put this up at the top of must-play games for next month. There’s also a PC version headed to Steam, so if you don’t own a PS4 but have a Steam account, you likely want to keep an eye peeled on this. I’m not sure a demo will drop (the page doesn’t say), but if it does, go get it and prepare to be more than a little pleasantly surprised. I think we have another Game of the Year candidate and this time, from a surprising (but reliable) source. Back in a bit with a review.

-GW

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