LifeisXbox’s Shinrai – Broken Beyond Despair Review | Get ready to experience a Halloween night gone wrong in every way imaginable. Yes, time to get the party ready and meet your classmates for a spooky evening with sweets, movies, and pranks. However, these won’t be the only things you’re experiencing in Shinrai Broken Beyond Despair. Make startling discoveries, investigate different outcomes, try putting the pieces together and see if you can work out exactly what happened on this frightful night. With ten main characters, each will have their side to tell but it’s your job to conclude who is being honest and who may be keeping secrets. Shinrai Broken Beyond Despair has been developed by Gosatsu Visual Novels and published by Ratalaika Games S.L. to take us on an unravelling story that I believe no one is quite ready for. All your thoughts, decisions, and choices could be detrimental to working out exactly what happened at this deadly Halloween party. The only thing I will say – there is far more to this catastrophe than meets the eye. I will be referring to this game as Shinrai throughout my review.
“Fun, amusement, trauma, death, deception – all these words and plenty more could be used to describe the story of Shinrai.”
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox One S | Review code provided by PR/publisher. This review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we liked!
- Dynamic and unexpected plot | I was beyond impressed with how this story was written and presented. The overall plot had many twists and turns that made me question every single one of my decisions, which made it even more worrisome as you can’t just skip backwards and change your mind because you don’t agree with the outcome. Everything has been executed brilliantly, from the characters themselves to the unpredictable story told. There wasn’t a single moment where I was not enjoying the crazed plot; to be honest, similar to when you play memorable games, I’m strangely hoping I forget the storyline so I can play it again in the future.
- Unique character profiles | If there is one thing I crave in a video game, it’s background information, a decent description, and incorporated lore; all of which Shinrai managed to accomplish. Each character has their own profile for you to read at any given time should you want to refresh your memory or take a look at exactly who your classmates are; some are rather interesting so I recommend reading these. It also has an added feature that told you whether the character was dead or alive, which admittedly, was not necessary but I still found it a nice touch. Detail like this, especially in visual novels, makes a major difference to me.
- Fitting audio and sound effects | If you’re looking for a visual novel that also incorporates sound, I would highly recommend Shinrai. There were a variety of situational sound effects and background audio that worked remarkably during my game time. It provided the appropriate atmosphere for the scenes but more importantly, there were multiple used that meant it never seemed repetitive or boring. I never thought a visual novel would have the ability to give me shivers but I managed to get so engrossed; more shock than fear but still more than I imagined.
- Game appearance | Although Shinrai tells a shocking story, there is plenty of colourful surroundings and characters who all sort of have their own colour that you can match them with as you can see in the image above. I still think it has a place though as the intention is a Halloween party with high school students and we all know parties are supposed to radiate fun more than death and despair. Flashbacks are suitably in black and white to show the use of older scenes. They also use an anime-based art style with the characters and their facial expressions that have been designed and detailed, also adding emotion where needed.
- Stunning use of atmosphere | Not only did sound play a massive part with regards to the atmosphere in Shinrai but adding the personality of the characters, mixture of events, and extreme scenes together was a whole new level for this visual novel. Each character was unique in that their personality both shined and shunned depending on circumstances and truly opened up the whole idea of someone having a hard front but then change their attitude when something drastic happens. The events changed from fun to death, literally one extreme to the next with scenes having a similar effect. Fun, amusement, trauma, death, deception – all these words and plenty more could be used to describe the story of Shinrai.
- Completion grading and results | If you manage to get past the final chapter by making the correct deductions (at least I believe that’s the only way you can get there), you will earn a rank that aims to enlighten you on just how good of a detective you were. I believe your rank is based on selecting appropriate evidence in your investigations, deducting the right characters from being a suspect, and almost for how you reached your ending; whether it was pure luck or you genuinely got everything correct. To me, it gave your playthrough more substance instead of just a normal ‘the end’ theme.
- Replayability | Admittedly, once you’ve played through the first time, most of the game will be very much the same. On the contrary, after said playthrough, it made me notice just how ‘wrong’ my decisions were because I didn’t think further into what actually could have happened. There are multiple endings and conclusions you can reach based on your dialogue choices. This in turn also means you are unable to get all the achievements in one playthrough. This alone does mean that if you want the full completion, you will be required to go through again and make the necessary choices. I do believe that seeing where I went wrong made my second time through even better.
- Investigation and clue element | I thoroughly enjoyed investigating areas to find clues and possible evidence that could back up my conclusions but there wasn’t enough and multiple objects had little to no meaning. They were purely included for slightly added detail but nothing more. It would have been nice to have more aspects to explore, creating a greater suspicion of my thought process. There are also a few parts in Shinrai Broken Beyond Despair when you are needed to select the correct evidence to support your claims which were fantastic as it meant you weren’t allowed to select anything just to move onto the next section of the story. There are multiple possibilities that can be looked through so just because the game progresses does not necessarily mean you were correct in your choice.
- Background with text | With any game, especially visual novels, that relies upon and use dialogue and text for the majority of gameplay, this needs to be readable. Otherwise, it can seriously affect your gaming experience. The reason I’ve spoken about this in this section is that not all of the dialogue suffered from this. When characters were speaking to others, the text was present at the bottom of the screen with a backing. However, when it came to thoughts being shown, they used the image on the screen as the background. In my opinion, this did make some of the reading a little difficult and problematic due to clashes with colour from time to time.
- Screen layout | I had to bring this point up as it’s something that just aesthetically didn’t look right to me. The gameplay has all been compacted into somewhat of a square border with the edges of the screen being used for nothing other than silhouettes of characters. I’m not quite sure why the developers decided to use this particular layout as it looks out of place and doesn’t give any additional meaning other than perhaps uncertainty and mystery because of the silhouettes. On the other hand, this comes from Shinrai naturally anyway. Just seemed a little strange to me.
What we disliked
- Confusion between characters | Each of the stories characters took a little time for me to get accustomed to, that was certainly helped by the use of colour coordination for each character, so I’m thankful for that. However, when it came to characters mentioning others in their dialogue, I wasn’t always sure who they were speaking about and needed to refer to their profiles on multiple occasions just so I knew who was being mentioned. This did ruin my immersion in most of the scenarios I found myself in. This is because the characters don’t always use their classmates’ base names when speaking about them and instead refer to them in a different format. For example, Raiko refers to Nobara as ‘Bara-chan’ sometimes, and it threw me off course a little which was a shame.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 4-5 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 6-8 Hours
LifeisXbox.eu is the largest Belgian Xbox centered website, your reading time is greatly appreciated! Please consider sharing this review with your friends on social media, that means a lot for us! If you are Dutch-speaking also consider joining our Dutch exclusive Facebook group Xbox Gamers Belgium. Feel free to use quotes for PR purposes.
Would you like to support us?!
We keep our website completely ads-free as we know how annoying that can be. This means we don’t have any income. Unfortunately, bills do come in for our hosting costs and other LifeisXbox expenses. Here is where YOU come in, your monthly support on Patreon can help us to continue writing our reviews.
Please check out our different options for support us monthly, our Patreon link.
You can also use Ko-Fi to give us a one time gift! Our Ko-Fi link.
Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!