Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Aug 142023

I’ve been looking forward to Master Detective Archive: Rain Code ever since it was announced.

The newest game from the creator of Danganronpa, Rain Code follows a detective named Yuma who travels to a mysterious isolated city where it always rains after making a pact with a death god.

This pact caused him to lose his memories but gain the powers of Shinigami, the death god, who can materialize the aspects of a mystery into a Mystery Labyrinth. By exploring a Mystery Labyrinth and overcoming obstacles with evidence, you can reach the truth of the case.

Some people refer to Rain Code as a visual novel, but I’d say that’s stretching the definition a fair bit. For one thing, Rain Code features full 3D exploration as you walk around the city and investigate the crime scenes.

In between cases, each chapter has a handful of side quests you can take on. These are fairly basic and only require you to talk to people, but their stories are interesting enough that I found them to be an enjoyable diversion from the main plot. (Although I expected some of them to have follow-up quests due to their endings, only for that to never happen.)

You can also find collectibles around the city that allow you to view conversations with the other major characters. These are basically bonding events like in Danganronpa, except instead of seeking a character out to talk to them, you instead find these collectibles to “remember” conversations that are supposed to have happened off-screen. I enjoyed this way of handling it, and the conversations were pretty entertaining.

As for the main story, each chapter features a major mystery for you to investigate. Once you’ve gathered all the clues, the story reaches a point where you enter the Mystery Labyrinth to find the answer.

The idea of a materialized mystery with elements of the case given a physical form to explore is pretty interesting and made me think of Persona 5’s Palaces or Psychonauts’s mental worlds. In practice, however, Mystery Labyrinths are just Danganronpa trials with more running. You’ll be confronted by Mystery Phantoms, representations of people trying to conceal the truth of the case, who will throw statements at you that you have to dodge before attacking a contradictory statement with the correct Solution Key. At other times, you’ll need to answer a question by choosing the correct path to take, or spell out the solution to the current problem. And sometimes you literally just run forward while discussing the mystery.

But despite how much I’ve complained about Danganronpa’s mini-games, they didn’t bother me here. While they have a lot of similarities, it never felt like the action part took precedence over the logic part.

Unfortunately, Mystery Labyrinths can be pretty boring. For me, this comes down to two things. First, you aren’t interacting with the actual people involved in the case. Mystery Phantoms only exist to argue until you present the correct evidence, so it’s a lot less debating a case with other characters like in Danganronpa or Ace Attorney, and more answering questions until you reach the solution.

Click for Rain Code spoilers
And since the most interesting cases in the game are Chapters 4 and 5, in which you do argue with real people instead of just representations, I think that points toward just how much of a difference it makes (even if both chapters have significant strengths beyond just that).

Second, this also means you only rarely learn new information in a Mystery Labyrinth. For the most part, you have all the facts of the case from the moment the Mystery Labyrinth begins, which makes it much easier to figure out the case ahead of time and then need to sit through half a dozen other questions before you can finally reach the part you guessed ages ago. Some of the cases are painfully boring as a result.

However, the final sections of the story make up for it with much stronger emotional highs, important plot revelations, and exciting confrontations. I went from tearing my hair out at how tedious Chapter 3 was to being completely hooked and unable to put the game down for the remaining chapters.

The overall story ends up being pretty interesting, and the game has a pretty likeable main cast. Even characters who felt annoying at the start grew on me over time, and I found myself especially attached to Shinigami (despite her irreverent attitude toward everything, being a death god and all).

I would love to see a sequel to this game, but I hope a hypothetical Rain Code sequel will address its flaws to make the mystery-solving more interesting and engaging. Four DLC episodes are planned, but since the first is reportedly quite short, I’m waiting on reactions to the others before I decide if I want to buy them or not.

So if you’ve had your eye on Master Detective Archive: Rain Code, just know that while it might have some tedious parts to trudge through, the later parts of the game make it worth seeing it through to the end.

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  2 Responses to “Master Detective Archives: Rain Code – Highs and Lows With a Great Conclusion”

  1. I’m still in Chapter 1 but glad that the game had a worthy conclusion! I look forward to getting through all the middle bits to experience it for myself!

    Also, “Danganronpa trials with more running” is a great description, pretty accurate so far 😂

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