Operation Backlog Completion 2024
May 082023

During the final days of the 3DS eShop back in March, you might recall me mentioning the Parascientific Escape series as being among my final purchases.

Parascientific Escape is a trilogy of short adventure games released exclusively for the 3DS. Since they appeared to be mysteries, what better time to try them out than during our mystery game month?

Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the Distant Seas is the first game in the series. Set in a world where psychic powers have begun to rise to prominence, you play a young woman named Hitomi who is rare for being the only known double psychic – someone with two psychic powers.

After receiving an anonymous letter asking her to meet with someone on a cruise ship, she boards the ship and goes to the meeting place at the appointed time. However, once she arrives at the room where the letter told her to go, an explosion rocks the ship and the passengers are told to evacuate, while Hitomi finds herself locked in the room. Her situation then takes a turn for the worse when she meets a girl with a bomb strapped to her neck and instructions saying she must find three keycards hidden around the ship in order to deactivate the bomb.

The story is told through visual novel sequences, while the adventure game segments play out like a series of escape rooms. You use the touch screen to examine items in the environment and use items you find in order to solve puzzles.

It can be a little tedious at times. For example, to open a drawer, you’d likely need to tap the drawer, select “look,” read dialogue about the drawer, tap the drawer again, and then select the new option “open.” Fortunately, the array of options is limited enough that it doesn’t get too annoying.

As is common for these kinds of escape room sequences, you’ll need to solve puzzles to proceed, some a simple matter of using the correct item in the correct spot, others with more of a riddle-like approach. But there’s a third type of puzzle that helps this game stand out a bit from the genre, thanks to Hitomi’s powers.

Hitomi’s psychic powers allow her to see through objects and manipulate objects with telekinesis, which comes into play with the puzzles. For example, one puzzle has you look inside a locked drawer and see that there is a hole in the base of the drawer. You then use telekinesis to move the item you need until it falls through the hole. Each puzzle gives you a limited number of times you can use each psychic power, so you need to plan your moves carefully. They’re essentially sliding block puzzles, but they make for a nice change of pace.

Meanwhile, the story is… fine. It has some funny moments, as well as dramatic ones (although the music doesn’t always match the scene, such as upbeat music continuing to play in the background during the bomb revelation), and the overall premise is intriguing. Its tone feels a bit off at times, though, approaching dark concepts through an idealistic perspective where friendship always triumphs.

It’s also not as much of a mystery game as I expected, although trying to learn the antagonist’s identity and motivations are an important part of the plot. It feels like more of a thriller. I suppose it’s as much of a mystery as Zero Escape is, albeit on a smaller scale.

But the characters are likeable enough, with some pretty funny interactions, so that kept me going.

Anyway, Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the Distant Seas is an enjoyable enough game if you like the idea of an escape room style adventure game with psychic powers adding a bit of a twist. Until I played it, I’d thought the Parascientific Escape games were all entirely separate, but Cruise in the Distant Seas leaves loose ends to be resolved in a sequel. Stay tuned, because we’ll be talking about the second game in the trilogy next!

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  10 Responses to “Celebrating All Things Mysterious: Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the Distant Seas – Escape Rooms and Psychic Powers”

  1. Something about the way you described this game makes me remember the first original DS game I ever played – “Trace Memory.” It implemented the touch screen controls amazingly well (for its time as a near-launch game; I haven’t played it in a long time) and was a cool mystery about a girl detective and a ghost sidekick. If it’s still get-able, I’d recommend it for next year!

  2. Seems like a cute little game. Too bad the only way to play it now is to download it illegally. I’m sure no one is going to miss some of those $2 shovelware games that went away with the closing of the shop, but it is a shame when interesting titles like this are no longer available easily.

    • Yeah, it’s a shame. They were among the small selection of games that actually got steep sales ahead of the eShop closure, so hopefully I’m at least not the only one who picked them up.

  3. Sounds like you have a whole trilogy to go this month! Of course, Zero Escape gets a shoutout as another VN with escape room elements, albeit a much more successful game series (to my knowledge, considering I only ever heard of this Parascientific game through you).
    I do wonder how you define the criteria of a mystery game… like, even if the plot is a little light, there are some mysteries you are solving, it tends to focus on puzzle gameplay. Does that not make it mystery genre? Does it need more mysteries? Is it more or less of a mystery than, say… Detective Pikachu, which you reviewed for a prior May Mystery game?

    • For me, I consider it a mystery if the mystery itself is a key focus of the plot. Murder mysteries and detective games make it easy, because investigations are at the heart of the story.

      So, “Who is responsible for [incident]?” can make something a mystery game.
      “What’s the password to open this locked door?” is not enough to make something a mystery game.

      Detective Pikachu had a series of small cases to solve along the way of the plot’s larger mystery (what happened to the kid’s dad), so that’s plenty of mystery there.

  4. […] Monday, we discussed Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the Distant Seas, and now it’s time to talk about the second game in the […]

  5. […] talking about Cruise in the Distant Seas on Monday and Gear Detective on Wednesday, it’s now time to conclude our look at the Parascientific […]

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