“The city gives off a vibe I can best describe as “neon-noir” | Despite my fondness for a good mystery and gripping stories, detective games have eluded me until now. I still remember standing in my local games store, holding L.A. Noire in one hand, Infamous 2 in the other. I spent that summer vacation in the New Orleans inspired New Marais instead of Los Angeles. The recently remastered classic Grim Fandango also didn’t manage to win me over, and indie gems like Return of the Obra Dinn, Frog Detective and Disco Elysium I all watched streamers play to completion. Now that I think about it, Persona 4’s story revolves around solving getting to the bottom of some murders, so maybe I indirectly dipped my toes in the genre. My hunch there was correct as to who the true instigator was for the events of that game. Anyway, when Master Detective Archives: Rain Code went up for grabs to review I jumped at the opportunity after seeing the trailer. After about 42 hours and one hell of a ride later I bring you my review of Spike Chunsoft and Too Kyo Games’ lucid-noir detective game on the Nintendo Switch: Master Detective Archives: Rain Code.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Nintendo Switch | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on X!
|Spike Chunsoft & Too Kyo Games
Isn’t she just the prettiest?
Things I liked!
- The characters | Interesting and distinct character design is definitely one of Spike Chunsoft’s fortes. Reminiscent of their cult classic series Danganronpa, the cast of Master Detective Archives: Rain Code can blend in effortlessly, if not for a lack of school uniforms. And just like the designs, all characters have a distinct personality. Not all of them go quite as deep as they could and a handful of antagonists are evil to a cartoonish degree, but that gets made up for by sheer numbers in my opinion. With so many players on the board, you tend to get one of the other master detectives to tag along with you per chapter who you’ll get to learn more about, but they don’t quite get the same spotlight ever after.
- Kanai Ward | A city that’s slowly being drowned by never-ending rainfall, and the stage on which Rain Code is set. The city gives off a vibe I can best describe as “neon-noir”. This is due to the large amount of neon signage cutting through the otherwise pressing darkness brought about by the constant rain clouds that rob Kanai Ward of pretty much all natural light. As Yuma you get to visit various parts of this isolated city, each with a distinctly different atmosphere. From the lively and maze-like Kamasaki District to the clean and high-end Ginma District, with smaller areas like the Aetheria Academy or the clocktower and its side streets. Equally gloomy is the soundtrack that accompanies you like the rain drizzled on your coat. While it picks up in intensity when the situation gets dire, most of the time it’s giving off this bleak and tired feeling that goes perfectly with Kanai Ward.
- Death God Shinigami-chan | I don’t think I’ve seen a death god quite as cheerful and mischievous as Shinigami since Yachiru from Bleach all those years ago. Arguably the better half of our main character duo, Shinigami is the death god who haunts Yuma and aids him in his investigations and the Mystery Labyrinth. While her role in the plot is crucial, more importantly, she really livens up every situation. I found her dynamic with Yuma to be an endless source of laughter. She spends most of the game in her little chibi ghost form as she follows you around the city, occasionally dashing off to interact with something in a funny way. Even during dialogue, she has many very expressive portraits. Now, while I’m sure she won’t be to everyone’s liking, I think she’ll be more than happy to boom-kill those who aren’t too fond of her. A small price to pay really.
- Solving the case | To keep his head firmly planted on his shoulders, Yuma will have to do a fair bit of sleuthing to provide evidence and reasoning. Luckily for him, he doesn’t have to go at it alone since he has Shinigami to help him out by guiding him through the mystery labyrinth when it’s time to solve the case. No Master Detective can solve a case without first going on location to gather evidence about what happened. In Yuma’s case, Shinigami keeps track of all potential evidence in the form of Solution Keys to be used in the labyrinth. Now, what is this mysteriful Mystery Labyrinth I keep bringing up? It’s a realm where the mysteries of a case are materialized. It will try to repel anyone in search of the truth in a bid to hide said truth forever. Luckily for Yuma, Shinigami comes to the rescue once again by turning the evidence gathered into Solution Keys that can then be inserted in the Solution Blade to slash the untruths the labyrinth will throw at you. That last sentence might’ve gone a bit quickly, so I’ll take a step back. Inside the labyrinth, you’ll find entities called “Q’s”. Pretty harmless on their own, but when they gather they’ll manifest into the form of whatever is hindering your investigation and draw you into a Reasoning Death Match. Here you have to listen to their statements carefully and find the lie in each round while physically avoiding the words that fly at you. So that when you finally catch a lie you slot the right solution key into the solution blade to slash through their lies. At other points in the labyrinth, you’ll run into various minigames. These are mostly to realize new information or look at things from a different angle. And when you finally got to the bottom of it all you’ve come to the Deduction Denouement, a comic book-style retelling of events where you have to correctly fill in the missing panels.
- Sidequests | Before moving on I’d like to quickly mention the good helping of sidequests sprinkled into each chapter’s investigation phase. They offer some much appreciated depth and liveliness to Kanai Ward. From tracking down a kidnapper, polling citizens for their opinion on Amaterasu corp or dealing with a cult of hooded figures. It really makes the city move without the need for you to be there to witness it.
Me too Halara, me too…
Neither good nor bad
- Detective on Rails | I’ll start this off by saying I’m pretty fond of the overall flow of investigating the cases you come across as Yuma. It really gives the feeling of being a detective, inspecting the crime scene, gathering witness testimony and so forth. It’s just, there’s little to no room to overlook stuff. Yes, the story needs you to have all the facts at hand to piece things together, but that means you can’t fail or get stuck in your deduction. It feels like a missed opportunity, especially since there are scripted moments when you really get stuck for a bit and have to be bailed out by a plot-provided minigame.
- Quicktime-events | During your investigations, Yuma and his fellow Master Detectives will run into trouble quite frequently, more often than not resulting in a chase sequence that plays out through various quicktime-event prompts. This isn’t exactly revolutionary and more than fulfils its purpose, but it does leave me wanting. Because some prompts like directional joystick inputs are confusing in what stick they want you to use and are rather sensitive when it comes to actually taking said input. But then it also feels like some of these moments could be turned into their own little minigames. For example, you have to sneak past a number of guards in the slums at one point. This could easily be a mini stealth section.
Believe me, I had a difficult time narrowing it down to only 3 screenshots.
Things I disliked!
I have no strong dislikes about Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE.
How long did I play the review before publishing? 40 plus hours according to my Switch
How long to beat the story? 40 hours-ish
How many Achievements did I earn before publishing? There are no achievements on Nintendo Switch.
How long to earn all achievements | There are no achievements on Nintendo Switch.
You’ll love this game if you like these | Danganronpa series, Return of the Obra Dinn, Disco Elysium
85/100 ⭐| Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE is a fun, story-driven game that will sweep you up in its story if you let it. With its palatable runtime, unique setting in Kanai Ward, cast of interesting characters and mysteries aplenty you’re definitely in for the wild ride people have come to expect from Spike Chunsoft. You don’t need to be a master detective to find out where the hours have gone should you decide to pick it up for yourself.
Hey there. Thomas is the name, Sci-fi, action and (J)RPG’s are the game. I strongly prefer co-op over PVP games. Whenever possible, you may find me run wild at a convention in western Europe. Certified anime enjoyer.