Showing off Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE for the first time to the press behind closed doors at GDC 2023, developers Spike Chunsoft and Too Kyo Games hope to reinterpret the typical murder mystery game with a neo-noir flair. Much of the art direction and dramatic zaniness of the game harkens back to Danganronpa, which isn’t too much of a surprise since many key members on the team worked on that franchise. Fortunately, we had Kazutaka Kodaka of Too Kyo Games who is also the writer of the Danganronpa series to provide more details on what we should expect from the game.
Like a kid detective anime
As a primer for the interview, the developers showed off a 20-minute hands-off demo of a dev build that I’m not allowed to talk about due to spoilers. Fortunately, I am able to give an overview of the game, which puts you in the shoes of Yuma Kokohead, an amnesiac who discovers that he is a detective-in-training at an agency in Kanai Ward. This beautifully rendered neo-noir "city of rain" is under control by Amaterasu Corporation, a megacorp that handles a lot of products but has many dark rumors about its operations. To advance through the game, Yuma needs to solve a series of whodunit mysteries — assisted by a death god named Shinigami who is contracted to haunt him — by exploring various crime scenes and finding Solution Keys through careful sleuthing and solid testimony from potential witnesses.
To assist him in finding these keys, each case will usually pair him with a Master Detective from the World Detective Organization, featuring many members who have unique supernatural abilities called Forensic Fortes. For instance, Vivia Twilight has the ability to pass through walls and floors as a ghost, while Aphex Logan can detect any living thing within a 50-meter radius. Their powers will help gather clues in ways that normal detective work can't. That said, Amaterasu Corporation has so-called Peacekeepers of their own, so clashes between them and the World Detective Organization could very well happen as you progress through the main story.
Once you’ve gathered all the evidence, Yuma will unlock a Mystery Labyrinth, a physical manifestation of the case that will have him fight enemies called Mystery Phantoms that will try to stop him from solving the mystery. Defeating them requires that you complete action-oriented mini-games like a spelling bee with a spinning barrel (there's a screenshot of this below), answer multiple-choice questions correctly, and win a Reasoning Death Match against it. If you’re able to use the right Solution Keys at the proper time, Yuma can slash at the phantom's lies by using his trusty Solution Blade. If you enjoy the satisfaction of yelling "Objection!" in Phoenix Wright, these fights will be right up your alley.
Shacknews: When did you start production of the game?
Kazutaka Kodaka [as translated live by a PR rep]: About six years ago. Everything in the game is new — the characters, environments — so we weren’t able to make the game with the same staff as before. We had to start from scratch.
Shacknews: Were you at all affected by the covid-19 pandemic? Did it affect the production of the game?
Kodaka: Not at all. [laughing]
Shacknews: Ah, that's good to hear. So, is it wrong to say that this game is part of the Danganronpa universe?
Kodaka: Because it would contain spoilers, we cannot say whether it is or not.
Shacknews: So then how would you compare the game to Danganronpa in terms of the mood, the setting, and the style?
Kodaka: RAIN CODE is made with some staff members from Danganronpa, so it will be similar to Danganronpa. But there are more elements included here, so both Danganronpa and non-Danganronpa fans will be able to enjoy this game.
Shacknews: In addition to the mysteries, there is a mega-corporation and Kanai Ward has been described as a caged city of rain. Can you expand on what these two elements are?
Kodaka: So first of all, Kanai Ward is a city that is isolated. It receives no communication from the outside world. And this city is controlled by a company called Amaterasu Corporation. The government, or the police, does not function properly in Kanai Ward, because Amaterasu Corporation has their own Peacekeepers which act as police. So if there are mysteries that are not good for Amaterasu, they will just bury the case.
Shacknews: Oh, are you trying to solve mysteries that they don’t want solved? Is that the idea?
Kodaka: Yes, something like that. So in order to solve those unsolved cases, there is an organization called the World Detective Organization which enlists the Master Detectives, and those detectives will go to kanai Ward to solve these mysteries.
Shacknews: Are you sharing any information on other Master Detectives apart from what was seen in the build?
Kodaka: There are unique abilities for each Master Detectives called Forensic Fortes. For example, there are abilities where you can Disguise yourself or control animals.
Shacknews: So I play a lot of mystery games like Phoenix Wright, and it’s hard to replay them because you know already what’s going to happen. Are there any ideas about replayability for this game?
Kodaka: Since this is a mystery game, you’ll find most of the enjoyment on your first playthrough. It may not be as enjoyable the second time, but there are different options, like different voice options, and there may be some stories you might have missed.
Shacknews: Apart from the main story missions, are there any side activities or side missions?
Kodaka: Yes, there are sub-stories that you can find, like stories about a Master Detective. There will be a lot of content based on that.
Shacknews: Do you have any plans for additional DLC or expansions, like more mysteries or epilogues?
PR Rep: We have a few DLCs planned, but we can’t share any details on them at this time.
Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE releases on June 30, 2023 on Nintendo Switch. It will feature both Japanese and English language tracks. A physical Mysteriful Limited Edition is available as well and comes with a SteelBook, an art book, soundtrack, outerbox, and a Shinigami plush. A digital novel that serves a prequel to the main story will come with initial printings of the game, so it is available until supplies last.