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  1. #1

    Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories

    Well, after I'd made clear my interest in this series I thought I might as well buy it.

    This is the latest in a series focused around disaster survival - you control a character and have to avoid death along with helping people out (often completely optional). Often this just means wandering around avoiding falling debris or fires, but there's a basic puzzle-solving element at times - gathering objects to shift things out of the way. While it looks a bit open world, it is linear and forces you down certain paths.

    Developed by Irem, the first game (Zettai Zetsumei Toshi) was released on the PS2 as SOS: The Final Escape (PAL) and Disaster Report (NTSC). The second was also on the PS2 and came as Raw Danger. The third was a PSP title and didn't even get a Western release, though there's apparently a translation project working on and off. This fourth title was originally planned to come out in 2011 for the PS3 and was cancelled due to a badly-timed earthquake, then kicked down the road for a bit, bought from Irem by the chief producer and ultimately re-developed as a PS4 title - and it's eventually here!

    The game goes back to the roots by being about a major earthquake. There's a basic character generator and you pick from a young man/woman on their way to a job interview when the earthquake hits. From then on, you go scrabbling around trying to work your way through the city, helping people along as you fancy it. The charm of the game comes from the slightly surreal sense of humour and the fact you can make choices to really shape the protagonist as you feel - and if you want the protagonist to be a perverted idiot who flirts with people at the least appropriate times possible or scams people into buying basic supplies at a ridiculously high price, you absolutely can. Or just respond to people pouring their heart out to you with "Well, it's not my concern. I don't care." Or just find weird outfits and hats then play dress-up.

    I'm playing the PS4 version and it feels a bit like a basic remaster of a PS3 game, which is pretty much what I expected. The controls are quite clunky PS2-era style (don't think you can just happily vault over things in the organic style of GTA and other modern titles). I've been playing a few hours and there's been some genuine surprises along with a few frustrating moments where I've been wandering around trying to find something to trigger the next set-piece (the game design relies heavily on these - you may need to talk to somebody to set off an aftershock that makes a building fall down that you need to crawl through).

    An issue with the former games is that they started off strongly and the game design became a bit lazy as it went on and though I don't feel like I'm near the ending yet, I am starting to see them cut corners. The lush and populated game world is now starting to become more generic and empty, with random wreckage piled up everywhere. This was true of the first game in particular. Many doors are inaccessible and a lot of the game world is just blocked off with rubble that you could easily climb over. It's the nature of the beast unfortunately - they were never AAA big-budget titles - but I still appreciate what they're doing and find it compelling to see where the story goes next.

    So far though - is it worth buying as a full price title? Probably not - I got the PS4 physical release for 38. I don't feel like I've been ripped off as I knew what I was getting into and ultimately what this game lacks in polish it makes up for with charm and some genuinely interesting ideas. While I love the idea of it being picked up as a bigger budget title, I don't think we'd get such fantastic dialogue as this:





    It also does look genuinely very nice sometimes.



    Do I recommend it? Well - yes - with caveats. If you enjoyed either of the first two games and want more of the same, you will be very happy with what's here. If you're jumping into this for the first time, I think your mileage may vary depending on how much you can accept games that feel a bit dated and rough around the edges. I'm a happy customer.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Hirst View Post
    So far though - is it worth buying as a full price title? Probably not - I got the PS4 physical release for 38. I don't feel like I've been ripped off
    Not quite sure I understand this... 38 is full-price. Do boxed full-price PS4 games actually go for more than 40?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Asura View Post
    Not quite sure I understand this... 38 is full-price. Do boxed full-price PS4 games actually go for more than 40?
    Yes, 38 is full price to me too - I've not worded it well. Basically I've paid for a full price game and I'm happy enough, but I don't think that will be representative for everyone as it feels a bit more like a budget release at times.

  4. #4
    I played this a few weeks ago and both loved it and was extremely frustrated in some spots. It's clunky and low budget just like the rest of the games. The animations could all do with being a bit snappier and the level design telegraphing better.

    The game is full of Quantum Video Game Logic like you mentioned. You need to find an exact, easy to miss spot to make something trigger but only after you have found an object or spoken to someone that has no relation to the thing you were supposed to trigger next. There's a stealth section that is quite inventive in it's premise but is really trial and error because the level design isn't very readable.

    The game definitely has flaws and this will be hated by people that aren't used to clunk B tier PS2 games BUT it is also funny, charming, sincere, surprising and inventive. They throw in all sorts of new gameplay modes that I won't spoil. Characters and your interactions with them are often touching or hilarious and the costumes you unlock are great. It keeps going right until the end as well. The very last scene (which may not be your last scene since the game branches like crazy) in the epilogue threw in an all new gameplay style for a thirty second sequence. It made me laugh out loud and really admire them so doing so much stuff even if none of it was executed perfectly.

    The story branches a lot and you can miss or unlock entire sections based on your choices. It's weird how the game really forces your through a series of hard to parse bits of level design logic in some spots and then in others it really doesn't care about what you do with interacting with characters or choosing what to do in an area.

    A complaint I have is that there is no chapter select once you've completed the game. It would be a good fun platinum trophy game if you could go back to previous levels and find things you've missed.

    If you have played the previous games there are lots of callbacks to them and on one pf the ending branches the game lore goes CRAZY.

    The game runs terribly and is full of rough edges and bugs but I am of the firm opinion that people that complain about frame rates are total perma-virgins and need to get a grip. Games don't get made like this anymore. It's genuinely interesting and wonderful. Playing it takes me back to the PS2 days. The devs were trying lots of different things, succeeding in some areas and not getting there fully in others. That kind of experience is so fun to explore and play.

    If that sounds like your kind of thing, definitely go for it. I really hope we get more games from Granzella.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by chopemon View Post
    The game runs terribly and is full of rough edges and bugs but I am of the firm opinion that people that complain about frame rates are total perma-virgins and need to get a grip. Games don't get made like this anymore. It's genuinely interesting and wonderful. Playing it takes me back to the PS2 days. The devs were trying lots of different things, succeeding in some areas and not getting there fully in others. That kind of experience is so fun to explore and play.

    If that sounds like your kind of thing, definitely go for it. I really hope we get more games from Granzella.
    Yes - to me the game seems to be aiming for 30fps and nudges somewhere near it, but the frame rate goes right down if something major happens like a building falling down and smoke filling the screen. Just like the PS2 ones! It never compromises gameplay and that's the only thing that bothers me, so while Internet people might use it as a point of ridicule it isn't something that actually matters.

    I'm already on board for a sequel or some new games from this company and hope the Internet moaners don't put them off. I don't think these "real world" looking games need to be exclusive to huge big-budget releases and I'm happy to accept some less good looking character models, heavily re-used assets and slightly robotic animations if it's in the pursuit of something interesting and quirky.

    That said - while it never looks amazingly slick or breathtaking, it often does look nice and has a great atmosphere at times. It started raining heavily during my playthrough during one point and I was quite impressed by how it all looked.

  6. #6
    definitely be picking this one up once it hits the sub 30 range, got myself the DLC for free during the launch window so i'll being walking around dressed as Santa at some point this year.

  7. #7

  8. #8
    The VR is not the game itself, they are self-contained "vignettes" of a small number of stages you can explore freely within the boundaries.

  9. #9
    Ah. That'll be a pass from me then.

  10. #10
    After a break, I've got a bit further now and there's been some backtracking to a few earlier locations but rather than feeling like a way to stretch the game out, it's quite interesting to revisit a place that was completely destroyed and start to see recovery efforts with diggers and workmen, plus makeshift emergency camps. It's an interesting to see the world evolve and while it lacks the finer detail of a big-budget title I am quite interested in the world.

    Also my guy is now sporting a full maid outfit (showing off his knobbly knees) and carrying supplies around in a handbag, but nobody seems to question it. There's the sense of humour of the game I love! Also I can't think of a single time I've legitimately had to use the shouting "oi!" command (which was barely used in the first game really) but I'm going round shouting it anyway. OI! OI! OIIII!

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