Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE

Grasp Detective Archives: RAIN CODE

Master Detective Archives: 

RAIN CODE is the latest game from Danganronpa mastermind Kazutaka Kodaka and character designer Rui Komatsuzaki. Fans of his earlier work will see similarities immediately, from neon pink blood splatter to the eccentric personalities of your fellow detectives. Each case and the overarching conspiracy of Kanai Ward are complex enough to keep a player guessing while not being overly obtuse to seem outside logical conclusions. 

RAIN CODE’s shortcomings are instead in its gameplay and one of its central characters. There’s a beautiful and impressively large overworld; Kanai Ward is a neon-infused, rain-drenched city pulling influence from Blade Runner and similar cyberpunk fiction. The detective headquarters is located in a submarine below the polluted waters of the local river. The city is a microcosm of haves and have-nots; there are slums housing an underground revolutionary movement and an upper-crust district with museums and expansive mansions.


The amnesia conceit is far from unique, but it’s such a central theme to these sorts of games that it’s barely worth noting. Instead, RAIN CODE struggles to be an adventure game when it’s structured like a visual novel. Despite the vastness of Kanai Ward, players will spend most of their time in it running between locations while Shinigami narrates. Her presence was a major hurdle during my playtime, as I could not enjoy her addition to the story at any point. If players decide to explore, she’ll take on a Navi role circa Ocarina of Time and start yapping about what you should be doing instead of walking around. If you decide to follow the story progression, you’ll be greeted by multiple sequential cut scenes. Often a cut scene will end only for the player to turn, walk a few paces, and talk to another NPC to cue up the next cut scene. The closest players will get to uninterrupted exploration is several fetch quests that can be done in each chapter to expand on some of the area’s lore. I enjoyed these, but you can only do them during their respective chapters.

The mystery-solving gameplay carries over a lot of elements from Danganronpa. After collecting clues throughout a case (this is done by looking at objects or talking to subjects), Yuma enters the Mystery Labyrinth with Shinigami. The labyrinth can best be described as a series of mini-games. Players will make decisions based on logical conclusions before battling a suspect in a Class Trial-like face-off. The foe will yell statements and the player will need to select the correct clue to contradict the statement. There is some light skill management that can make this section of the game easier. A secondary mini-game where Shinigami wears a swimsuit and a barrel will see players attempt to fill in the blank by hitting letters in the correct order to spell the missing word. Finally, the last game will require jumping, tackling, or kicking obstacles to complete the labyrinth.


The rest of the labyrinth is simply running forward in a straight line while characters talk to you to go over logic points based on the clues you have. The hallway alters and evolves in visually interesting ways, but it’s still very much a hallway. After three or so cases, the shortcomings and routine gameplay are hard to ignore, regardless of how twisty the crime itself turns out to be. I appreciate RAIN CODE’s attempt at interactivity, but it’s a little more than a veneer. There are multiple repeated cutscenes within each labyrinth, one includes Shinigami cutting Yuma’s throat while he screams, which will happen at least three times per labyrinth. These can be fast-forwarded, thankfully, but feel excessive from a directorial standpoint.

I expect players will be divided on the Shinigami character, but I found her wholly a nuisance, which is a crime in itself as the game’s unofficial mascot and fanservice character. She’s obviously romantically interested in Yuma, based on her possessive nature but is otherwise crass, unempathetic, and needles Yuma excessively. It was the crass part that wore on me, as she’s often sexist to other helpful female characters, referring to them as “uggo,” “skank,” and “flat-chested” whenever she encounters them. I often found myself wishing she’d haunt anyone else, even if her human character design is top-notch.


I bounced off Shinigami hard (and serial sexual harasser Desuhiko), but the rest of the cast is very likable. The most competent secondary character is Halara, is nonbinary Master Detective with the power to see the past through objects and a penchant for kicking in doors. Fubuki and Vivia are entertaining in their own right, and each secondary detective helps diversify the investigation procedures with their unique “Forensic Fortes.” I would have liked to see these abilities extend to the Mystery Labyrinths in a larger way, but nonetheless, players are bound to get attached to their favorite. Upcoming DLC (a total of four) will hopefully highlight these characters further.

The quality of the English dub
is excellent, with nary a miscast role among the many characters. However, the lip flaps aren’t even close. Often a cut scene will continue for multiple seconds with a character still “talking,” but the vocal track ended. This isn’t a one-off scenario, it’s every cut scene from start to finish. I can only hypothesize there were issues with script approval or that the script and dub
were created prior to seeing the in-game footage. I don’t think this will be fixed later, and is, unfortunately, rather distracting during climactic and emotional moments within the story.

Despite its shortcomings, the game’s thoughtful writing and mysteries are more than enough to carry it. Its setting is intriguing, and it would be a waste for RAIN CODE to end here when it has all the structure to be an engaging mystery franchise. Going forward, I hope it can deliver more “adventure” without falling on visual tricks to mask what is still primarily a visual novel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *