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Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE

Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE

Written by Russell Archey on 7/25/2023 for SWI  
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There’s nothing like solving a good mystery. Get to the crime scene to investigate and gather up clues. Make some deductions based on what you’ve found. Get nagged by some weird purple ghost that follows you around. Get transported to some sort of labyrinth that’s a manifestation of the case you’re solving and that ghost now takes on a human form. Face off against Mystery Phantoms in an attempt to get them to admit the truth.

You know, the more I think about it the more I don’t think Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is a typical mystery adventure.

Before we get much further I would like to point out that Master Detective Archives: Rain Code was created by several people who worked on the Danganronpa series and I’ve read that a lot of elements from Danganronpa can be seen in Rain Code. I have never played any of the Danganronpa series so my familiarity with those games is zero, but even still I fully believe that any game should be able to stand or fall on its own merits and that will be the case with Master Detective Archives: Rain Code.

You play as a young man named Yuma Kokohead, a Master Detective who wakes up in a train station lost and found closet with no memories of anything. He finds a letter on him with his name requesting his presence on the Amatarasu Express heading to Kanai Ward to rendezvous with several other Master Detectives at the Kanai Ward branch of the World Detective Organization known as the Nocturnal Detective Agency. Aboard the train Yuma meets several other detectives who welcome him in despite Yuma not even sure he’s actually a detective. 

During the trip Yuma passes out and upon awakening notices that all of the other detectives are dead. It’s here that Yuma meets Shinigami, a ghost-like Death God who made a pact with Yuma in exchange for his memories. Shinigami assists Yuma in solving the mystery aboard the Amatarasu Express and upon arriving at Kanai Ward, a city where it’s constantly raining, he’s confronted with The Peacekeepers and reveals the truth as to how the other detectives were murdered. Afterwards, Yuma meets Chief Yakou Furio of the Nocturnal Detective Agency along with a few other Master Detectives who survived other trips to Kanai Ward, and learns about Kanai Ward’s Ultimate Secret. Now it’s up to Yuma and the NDA to solve all mysteries that plague Kanai Ward.

When you begin a chapter you can wander around the various districts of Kanai Ward and work towards that chapter's big mystery, or just explore and interact with various objects and side requests to gain Detective Points. When you start working on the chapters main mystery you’ll have at least one if not a few crime scenes to investigate. Here you’ll look at various points of interest and anything that looks like it might help will become a Solution Key that’ll be useful later. You might also need the help of another Master Detective that’ll join you as part of the story. Each Master Detective has a Forensic Forte, or special power that helps them out during an investigation. Yuma's Forensic Forte is the ability to use the Forensic Fortes of other Master Detectives so long as they allow it and are with Yuma. Does that make Yuma a deus ex machina of sorts?

Once you’ve investigated all of the crime scenes you’ll enter the Mystery Labyrinth and this is where things take an interestingly weird turn. After Shinigami turns into a human you’ll have to take everything you’ve learned about the case up to that point and determine not only who the real culprit is, but how they did it down to a T. These were definitely my favorite parts of the game, but they do have the tendency to drag on a bit. You’ll encounter Mystery Phantoms, either someone standing in the way of you finding out the truth or the actual culprit. Several times throughout the Mystery Labyrinth you’ll encounter the Phantoms in a Reasoning Death Battle where you have to dodge the physical manifestation of what the Phantom is saying until they say something that you can contradict with one of your Solution Keys.  

Not dodging the incoming statements in time or choosing the wrong Solution Key will decrease your stamina and if it runs out you have to do that part of the Labyrinth again. Other scenarios you’ll come across in the Labyrinths include quickly answering questions while riding a mine cart, picking a direction when you come to a fork in the road, and spelling out the missing word in a phrase while Shinigami is trapped in a barrel. If this is sounding kind of bizarre, that was my line of thinking when playing through these scenarios.

That’s essentially how Master Detective Archives works: half of a chapter is gathering clues in a detective simulation game while the other is more action-oriented and while I do like the Mystery Labyrinths as I’m more into the action-oriented parts of the game, I did say they have the tendency to drag on. For the first half of the chapter it makes sense. You are solving a mystery after all, and you need to gather as many clues as possible to make your deductions. The Mystery Labyrinths though? Even if you figure out early on who the real culprit is, you have to go through the entirety of the Labyrinth which can take a while. The Mystery Phantoms will nitpick over every little detail and you’ll have to contradict all of them. 

Just when you think “Okay, there’s absolutely no way the culprit can talk his way out of this now”, they’ll mention the tiniest of details that you would never think about. Between how long the investigation scenarios can last and how long the Mystery Labyrinths take, each chapter can take a good few hours to complete. It doesn’t help that after clearing a Labyrinth you’ll then have to take each detail of how the crime was committed and place them into a manga-style comic explaining how the crime was committed…and then the game walks you through that manga AGAIN. Basically you’re hearing how the crime was done twice after already hearing how it was done when first going through the Labyrinth.

I mentioned side requests earlier and it’s highly recommended you take the time to do them when you find them. For one, they’re only available in the chapter you can find them in. Missing them or not completing them before ending the current chapter means you’ll miss out on a decent amount of Detective Points. Detective points allow you to level up and as you level up you’ll gain Skill Points and Memory Points. Skill points allow you to purchase abilities you can equip with each one using a certain number of memory points to equip. 

Some abilities are quite useful such as increased stamina or removing an incorrect Solution Key or two during Reasoning Death Battles. Others are kind of head scratching such as slowing down Shinigami’s barrel during that particular mini-game. Problem is since you have to shoot the correct letters to answer a question to proceed the labyrinth and the mini-game is on a timer, slowing down the barrel actually means it’ll take longer to get to the correct letters. You can also find various memories for other detectives lying around that gives you some more insight on each one.

Though I did mention that the game can tend to drag a bit considering how long each chapter can take, there’s plenty to enjoy about Master Detective Archives: Rain Code. The entire time I was playing I kept thinking about an anime I enjoy called Detective Conan. While not really similar outside of the detective motif, a big reason I enjoy Detective Conan is not in finding out who the culprit of a crime was, but how it was done. As long as the Mystery Labyrinths can drag on for, it’s interesting to see how each crime was done and the game will point out the tiniest of details that you might not have thought of. The animation and voice acting are all really well done, though I will admit that Shinigami’s sense of humor can get a bit annoying at times. Graphically speaking, the game looks pretty good, especially if you’ve played games in the Persona series as that’s what the graphics style reminded me of.

Master Detective Archives: Rain Code initially left me in a weird state of how to feel about it, but it definitely grew on me over time. I think that’s because this is the first game I’ve reviewed in a long time that probably shouldn’t be played in shorter bursts. Granted you can save any time you have control over Yuma, but this is also a game that can keep you engaged despite how long each chapter can go. The only main annoyance for me, as stated, was that the Mystery Labyrinths are definitely my favorite aspects of the game, but they can drag on with how deep the evidence for each case can go, even once you figure out who the culprit is. That being said it does feel like I’m playing through a detective-style anime and I’m perfectly okay with that. Heck, if playing through this gets me interested in the publishers’ other games, I’m all for solving as many cases as I can.

Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is a great game that really goes deep into each of its cases to prove who the real culprit is, sometimes to a fault.  The Mystery Labyrinths can tend to go on for a bit despite knowing who the real culprit is halfway through and Shinigami’s sense of humor can get a tad annoying at times.  It also doesn’t help that after going through a few hours of how the crime was committed, you then basically get to relive the entire crime two more times which at that point just feels like the game is padding itself.  Overall though, if you’re up for solving some mysteries with a purple ghost sidekick, Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is definitely worth checking out.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I began my lifelong love of gaming at an early age with my parent's Atari 2600.  Living in the small town that I did, arcades were pretty much non-existent so I had to settle for the less than stellar ports on the Atari 2600.  For a young kid my age it was the perfect past time and gave me something to do before Boy Scout meetings, after school, whenever I had the time and my parents weren't watching anything on TV.  I recall seeing Super Mario Bros. played on the NES at that young age and it was something I really wanted.  Come Christmas of 1988 (if I recall) Santa brought the family an NES with Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt and I've been hooked ever since.

Over 35 years from the first time I picked up an Atari joystick and I'm more hooked on gaming than I ever have been.  If you name a system, classics to moderns, there's a good chance I've not only played it, but own it.  My collection of systems spans multiple decades, from the Odyssey 2, Atari 2600, and Colecovision, to the NES, Sega Genesis, and Panasonic 3DO, to more modern systems such as the Xbox One and PS4, and multiple systems in between as well as multiple handhelds.  As much as I consider myself a gamer I'm also a game collector.  I love collecting the older systems not only to collect but to play (I even own and still play a Virtual Boy from time to time).  I hope to bring those multiple decades of gaming experience to my time here at Gaming Nexus in some fashion.
These days when I'm not working my day job in the fun filled world of retail, I'm typically working on my backlog of games collecting dust on my bookshelf or trying to teach myself C# programming, as well as working on some projects over on YouTube and streaming on Twitch.  I've been playing games from multiple generations for over 35 years and I don't see that slowing down any time soon.
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