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I’ve never played the Disaster Reportgames, whose naming conventions often confuse me like Final Fantasy I-VI, but they have a place on my backlog as something to check out eventually. To my knowledge they are pretty straightforward in tone and gameplay, playing like I Am Alive(at least in my head, possibly completely wrong), but City Shrouded in Shadowlooks like the spin the genre needs.
Of course running around a Japanese metropolis from Godzilla, Ultraman, and Evangelion units while being an asshole to people would appeal to me. So it was at the top of my to-play list for Tokyo Game Show 2017. Of the 250,000 visitors, 240,000 of them were in line for Monster Hunter World, so I didn’t have long to wait.
I was able to play the same opening section of the game that you’ve seen in gameplay videos before. Right off the bat the game tells you “This is goofy, rather than scary or serious” when you set your character parameters. You choose if you’re a male or female, what business you were just attending to, your relationship with the girl/guy you’re going to meet, and other options I forgot. I chose a guy, and after every further choice he made an exaggerated gesture and silly remark.
Once you get playing you feel the stiffness that comes with so many budget Japanese games: you’re confined in boxed corridors, surrounded by invisible walls, and there are no physics to speak of. Cars don’t hit you and no-one reacts physically or verbally when you roll into them or crawl around them like a freak.
The main interaction you are capable of is conversation, but most NPCs just have one line of unspoken text that they repeat to you. Not until I walked into a convenience store did I have my first real interaction. It was a voiced cutscene with a girl working the counter, and I chose to pretend to know her. She asked me to get something for her, but instead I walked around the store looking for something or someone to interact with, only to be disappointed.
Back outside sudden chaos erupted as Ultraman began attacking the city and the game’s framerate. Naturally I ran straight for him to see what sort of ways I could interact with him, or whether I could climb onto his foot. Nothing worked, so I at least wanted to see if he could kill me or if that much was limited to certain events in the game. Sure enough, he stomped on me, which ended my demo because apparently there wasn’t a time limit like in most event demos. I didn’t have time to come back later to play more, but I got the gist of the experience.
The fun of City Shrouded in Shadowwill not derive from any horror or gameplay, but rather from the story and the interactions you have with people. There are a lot of silly choices that will likely make it fun to play with friends, or of course stream and watch on Twitch or YouTube.