|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Cing||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Tecmo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 30, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
February 1, 2010 - It's been a while since Hotel Dusk, but I was a big fan of that game. Not only did it have an engaging story, but it also had some nice artwork to go with it. Even though it wasn't much more than an interactive novel that had you hold the DS as if it was a book, the way it drew you into the plot and had you search for clues to investigate the mystery was quite unique and engaging, especially at the time.
This kind of DS game has evolved quite a bit since then, especially after games like the Professor Layton series, Phoenix Wright, and many others, but Japanese developer Cing still wants to make sure we get another taste of their unique murder mystery style in their upcoming release, titled Again.
Hotel Dusk enthusiasts will soon realize the streamlined, hand-drawn approach from the first title has been put aside. Again goes for a much more realistic look, utilizing real-life actors to play the different character roles. Even some backgrounds and story elements are based on photographs, though the game's environments and investigations all happen in much more traditional and interactive 3D settings. While some might not like this choice as much, this darker, lifelike appearance should help everyone get even more involved into the happenings. Or, will it? I guess it all depends on how good the story is. From what we've learned, things look rather promising.
The main character, Jonathan Weaver (a.k.a. "J"), is an FBI agent with a past. His parents were murdered 19 years ago in a series of similar killings that ended the lives of many. Although this past wasn't completely buried, a new series of killings brings him straight back into the cold case. Somehow the new murders and the old ones seem to be related, so he'll find himself, with the support of his partner Kate, going back to the scenes of the original crimes in search of answers. Now, this wouldn't be an easy feat if it wasn't for the interesting powers he has, which send him into unexpected flashbacks here and there. Searching for clues in both past and future, J will add items and possible evidence to his inventory, which will often come in handy as he finds out more about the crimes. One of the things J notices right away is that the Eye of Providence symbol (the famous triangle with an eye in the center found on dollar bills) is always present in the crime scenes. Coincidence? Definitely not.
By comparing the past and the future of the same location side to side on the two DS screens, players will discover incongruous details that lead him into further clues. Always with the help of the stylus, you may need to look behind a poster, move objects around, or combine different items, so one has to keep an open mind to avoid missing critical information. If you hold the stylus over specific objects, you may trigger new flashbacks, but there's a limited number of tries, so you have to make sure you're investigating the right thing. Players (and J himself) will advance through the plot by solving one puzzle after another, so it's important to stay focused and notice even the smallest details, as they may be crucial to your progress.
As in most games that belong to this genre, reading lots of dialogue, interrogating suspects, visiting different locations, and searching for clues is the focus of the game, though the time travel aspect adds another dimension that will undoubtedly make Again more intriguing. When I think of this game, I think of two things: Fringe and Time Hollow, and I enjoyed both very much. Is this a good sign? Well, Again is set to release in March, so we'll have the final word in just over a month. Of course, Cing is known for critically acclaimed titles such as Hotel Dusk, Trace Memory, and Little King's Story, so that, on its own, may just guarantee a great game. Keep your eyes peeled!
CCC Site Director