The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Tale

Are you a fan of murder mysteries? The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story ought to be added to your “to-play” list at that point. This is a game that both challenges and respects its reader-players, drawing extensively from the traditions of Golden Age mystery novels (approximately similar to the period between WWI and WWII). It provides enough clues and red herrings to give you a chance to solve – or be tricked by – its storytelling.

Three time periods are covered by the story: 2023, 1973, and 1923. With Haruka Kagami, the primary character, we start in the present. Young novelist Haruka is the creator of a popular series of mystery books. She routinely consults with Dr. Eiji Shijima in order to write her fair play mystery as correctly as possible. Eiji asks Haruka to go with him to his family’s house with him for a once-in-a-century family ritual at a book signing. This appears to be partially a result of his long-standing estrangement from his father and brothers. But he’s also worried (and fascinated) about something that just made the news: a skeleton was found on the family’s land under a cherry tree. To find out the truth about the body and whether or not his family has been up to anything for many years, Eiji wants Haruka’s assistance. Along with her editor Akari, Haruka consents to travel, but soon after the complete cast is presented, Ryoei, the father of Eiji, is poisoned, and a landslide locks everyone at the Shijima estate. The Shijima family’s medical research secrets start to emerge as everyone starts to fear, and Haruka is given two manuscripts: a 1923 book written by “Yoshino Shijima” and a 1973 novella set at a club called The Scarlet Camellia that features a young Ryoei Shijima as a character.

These two texts give Haruka the historical context she needs to resolve the current problem, as you might infer from the times they were written. One of the most intriguing and crucial tricks in the game is set up as she starts reading the first section of the 1923 novel, part one, when Akari advises that she imagine the characters as people she knows. The Centennial Case is an FMV (full motion video) game, which means that all cut scenes are shown as they would be in a movie, in contrast to conventional visual novels. In this instance, a small group of actors play every single part, with Haruka’s actress playing both Yoshino and Iyo, the narrator of the 1973 work, while everyone else likewise plays several roles. This turns out to be more interesting than a way to save money because it adds an exciting gameplay element to watch who you see playing what roles (or who you don’t). Long cut scenes are made to feel like viewing a movie thanks to the usage of FMV, which may appeal to gamers who don’t particularly love visual novels’ reading-intensive elements. Little to no reading is required unless you activate the subtitles, which the English dub facilitates.

Five of the story’s six chapters (plus the epilogue) involve more viewing and reading than gameplay. The majority of the gameplay is paying attention and then using the information you gather to formulate hypotheses in “reasoning mode.” The letters may occasionally appear on the screen as you watch the cut scenes; clicking on them will turn them into tangible clues you can use later. Three steps make up reasoning mode: a brief talk; using hints to respond to questions on a honeycomb grid; and finally reviewing hypotheses. Once you’ve reached a conclusion, the game advances to the stage when Haruka/Yoshino/Iyo makes her presentation to the cast. If you reach the incorrect conclusion, there are hints accessible in both the honeycomb section and the presentation, and other characters will also point out the errors in your logic if you select the wrong response. There are puzzles to be solved and rooms to search in chapter five, which acts more like an old-school point-and-click game or possibly a contemporary hidden object game. This is the only chapter to deviate from the core concept. It’s a wonderful vacation, and if you get stuck, there are guides available in many online locations.

The game is accessible on a variety of platforms, including PS5, PC, Switch, iOS/Android, and IOS/Android. I tried the Android version, but if you have poor hand-eye coordination like mine (I have dysgraphia), I’d suggest using a computer or gaming console. Even with a pen, I found it quite difficult to physically drag the clues to their spots on the honeycomb grid. On the plus side, the game ran smoothly on my phone, which is formally referred to as a “starter phone.” The only problem was that the phone struggled to keep up with the rendering of certain scenes that employed just computer graphics, which resulted in afterimage trails. In this version, each chapter is downloaded independently, which helps conserve memory if you don’t have much. Both the English dub and the original Japanese language track are excellent, as I already noted. However, I much liked the Japanese version since I dislike it when lips and words contradict each other. The outfits for the parts set in 1923 are stunning, and while the acting can be a touch hammy at times, it never distracts from the tale. Despite not being exceptional, music is unobtrusive and serves its purpose.

The Golden Age roots of The Centennial Case are beloved. The mysteries all follow Knox’s Commandments, according to a lesson, and the timeline for the crucial moments in the story includes the publishing dates of several major mystery novels, including those by Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Ellery Queen. (Edogawa Ranpo is also mentioned, needless to say.) The game adheres to the fair play mystery rules, and the provided information can be used to solve any puzzle component. There are multiple ways to answer some of the mysteries, but there are no branching pathways (unless you count mistakes, which do end the game). If you love mysteries and have a hankering to play detective, I wholeheartedly recommend this deep, delightful experience.

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