On Monday, we discussed Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the Distant Seas, and now it’s time to talk about the second game in the trilogy.
Parascientific Escape: Gear Detective is set in the same universe as the first game, but with a new cast of characters. You play a detective named Kyosuke, who is an artificial psychic due to a specially-designed prosthetic arm and eye.
Along with his assistant, he begins investigating a recent serial killing case, using his psychic powers to help.
His ability is “chronokinesis,” which allows him to look up to 5 days into the past and manipulate objects within that time frame. This gives you a limited degree of time travel to use when solving puzzles. For example, if you need to open a locked drawer and have a memo telling you what time the drawer was last open, you can look back at that time when the key is in view and hide it so that it can’t be taken away. More commonly, you can look into the past to see passwords, clues about codes, etc.
While it uses largely the same gameplay systems as its predecessor for the escape room sections (minus the sliding block puzzles), everything is slightly more streamlined. In a peculiar design decision, you can set the difficulty to easy if you want the game to automatically give you the dialogue for tapping on an object when there’s only one option. Why there’s a “difficulty” setting solely to select whether or not you need to manually tap “look” or not, I don’t know.
Now, Gear Detective is much more of a visual novel than its predecessor was. While the first game felt like a series of escape rooms broken up by visual novel storytelling, Gear Detective is the reverse, a visual novel with occasional escape room situations.
In fact, instead of the visual novel sections just providing story beats between puzzles, now there are entire segments where the gameplay is simply visiting different locations to get new dialogue and try different actions through the visual novel interface. It’s never challenging, since at worst you’ll just visit each location until you find one with a new option, but it allows for more optional conversations if you want to take the time for them.
The narrative sections also include dialogue options, as well. These options might look like they’re just for flavor, but there are actually multiple endings this time around.
Once you’ve completed the game, you can see whether your progress in each chapter is marked with a gold star, a pink star, or nothing at all. The result you’ve gotten the majority of determines your ending. You can then replay chapters with the option to skip the “adventure” (visual novel) parts or “investigation” (escape room) parts. Not needing to replay the investigations makes it easy to go back through for the other endings, although the need to repeatedly move between locations to perform different actions starts to feel tedious when you’re doing that.
The story is fine, less humorous than the first game’s yet with a more clearly defined narrative. It still had that odd mix of dark topics and power-of-friendship idealism, but the connections back to the first game left me intrigued about how it will all come together.
Parascientific Escape: Gear Detective might lack the aspects that made Cruise in the Distant Seas unique and feel more like a traditional visual novel / adventure game instead, but it’s a stronger game overall. Will the third game surpass it? Stay tuned, as we’ll conclude our look at this trilogy on Friday!---
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