“Consider your actions carefully. The decisions you make will change the world around you and how your story unfolds.”
If there ever was a way to open a video game with an ominous and rather eerie beginning, this is it. And after spending some time with Tokyo Dark: Remembrance on the Nintendo Switch, it’s safe to say this game certainly delivered the goods on the spooky and eerie. Developed by indie studio Cherrymochi and published worldwide by Square Enix, Tokyo Dark: Remembrance is a point-and-click visual novel game with horror and supernatural elements thrown into the mix.
The story involves Detective Itō Ayami, who is on the search to find her partner, Kazuki Tanaka, who went missing while he was exploring on a case of his own. Not only does Itō uncover the details behind Kazuki’s mysterious solo case, but is also still coming to terms with a traumatic and dark incident that she has not fully gotten over or completely come to terms with yet. Battling her past and dealing with her erratic behavior, things start to go awry and what is reality and what is fiction in Itō’s world becomes blurred.
Firstly, this game is gorgeous. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance is presented through some amazing animated sequences and backdrops that are top-notch and look incredibly detailed, including the main character of Itō herself. The backgrounds are gritty and spooky with its ominous noir and J-horror film-like vibes. It definitely gives the sense of feeling like you have stepped into a world of the unknown and evil. Digital Studio Graphinica are responsible for the animated sequences and I think have done a fantastic job with creating a scary yet intriguing world that I loved exploring and experiencing. Combined with a great accompanying soundtrack by Matt ‘Bison’ Steed (Front man of British thrash metal band Reign of Fury) it helps to match the dark mood and foreboding, supernatural feeling we are given throughout the game. Especially at night when it’s scarier, but maybe that’s just the horror fan in me talking!
As mentioned earlier, Tokyo Dark: Remembrance is a mixture of visual novel and point-and-click gameplay, meaning while you scroll through text-based conversations of characters talking to one another as animated backdrops, you are also given the chance to control Itō to wander around in a somewhat linear pathway to click on any highlighted clues that are illuminated by a white outline in the shape of a box around you. These may be highlighted in places such as dumpsters or sketches on the wall, giving you the opportunity to interact with them. Doing so may uncover clues or give you access to something else to uncover or unlock further on in the story and depending on how you play changes the course of the story.
I really enjoyed this and liked that your options are not so limited. You are free to observe and decide what you want to do at your discretion. This also applies with meeting people in your search to help find your missing friend, people whom you can talk to, interact with and are given multiple ways to respond and react to. The choices you make determine the outcome of your story, as there are up to 11 multiple endings. Should you relax at the bar with the barmaid and have a drink to relax on your case after questioning her, or are you strictly professional only by asking questions and moving on? Depending on what you do can change the pathway for Itō to walk on and it’s entirely up to you, the player.
To help with the point-and-click aspect of the game, the game introduces a mechanic called the S.P.I.N System. S.P.I.N stands for Sanity, Professionalism, Investigation and Neurosis. These are Itō’s stats that you are free to view on the menu screen and depending on the actions, you choose can affect them greatly. For example, remember when I said you could have a drink at the bar after questioning the barmaid? Think before you act because this can negatively impact your professionalism in the S.P.I.N system and may not be the best of options. On the other hand, not having a drink at the bar may appear to make you look more professional and will instead positively bump up your professionalism stat higher and change the outcome of the underlying story.
To make matters more interesting, Tokyo Dark: Remembrance has an autosave function and whatever action you choose, cannot be undone. It’s a clever feature and makes for more in-depth gameplay in my eyes and I enjoyed choosing decisions that shook up the story as I progressed further. While the story had me intrigued and interested from the very beginning, I did start to feel a little disinterested halfway through as the middle of the game felt a like little filler as I was moving towards the end. It wasn’t awful by any means but it did start to feel a little dragged on. However, when the story was keeping my interest though, I was enjoying it.
I really had a good time with Tokyo Dark: Remembrance. I thoroughly enjoyed the S.P.I.N system mechanic and the animated cut-scenes and backgrounds. I enjoyed the story too, even though the game did start to feel a little padded in the middle for me. With its multiple endings that will guarantee replayability for all players, there is fun spookiness for everyone to experience in Tokyo Dark: Remembrance, but especially for all the horror-fanatics out there.
Tokyo Dark: Remembrance is available now on Nintendo Switch.