Title: Tokyo Dark Remembrance
Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: Cherrymochi, Mebius (Switch)
Genre: Point and Click/Adventure
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Official Site: http://www.tokyodark.com/
Release Date: November 7, 2019
Where to Buy: Eshop, Steam
Tokyo Dark first released on the PC back in September 2017 after a successful Kickstarter campaign. It wasn’t until August of the following year that the game was officially announced for the Switch and PlayStation 4. While the PS4 version is still some way off, the Switch port is out now and we’ve been playing it to bring you our thoughts.
Entitled Tokyo Dark Remembrance this time around, the game is described as a point and click adventure. That description is somewhat misleading as, in reality, Tokyo Dark is more of a visual novel mixed with a Telltale game. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into.
Booting up for the first time, players are greeted with a warning that any decisions made are permanent and will affect the story. With 11 endings on offer, there are plenty of different choices to make on subsequent playthroughs to see how your actions do affect things.
Tokyo Dark stars a young Japanese detective by the name of Ito Ayami who is trying to come to terms with the disappearance of her partner and solve the mystery behind it. I can’t and won’t get into the specifics of the story as Tokyo Dark is best experienced without spoilers for the first playthrough.
Not being able to give much away does make this review fairly challenging. The game, on the other hand, is not challenging at all.
As I’ve said, Tokyo Dark is more of a visual novel, albeit one where the player moves the character and makes the decisions to move the story along. The actual puzzle elements are few and far between and involve nothing more than turning some lights on in the right order.
Decisions made along the way will affect the SPIN meter which keeps track of a player’s sanity, professionalism, investigation, and neurosis. Take a drink while questioning an NPC at a bar and the professionalism bar will go down, getting lots of information will increase the investigation bar, things like that.
On my playthrough, I discovered I was a really thorough investigator with professionalism issues who was lacking in the sanity department. The SPIN system is a fun way to keep track of how some of the choices made have led to the scores on it. It’s also perfect for further playthroughs, making it fun to try and get opposite stats to see how they affect the story.
The bulk of the gameplay involves reading, moving your character through different locations and highlighting boxes to find clues or initiate conversation. These boxes will often give a couple of options. At the start of the story, a phone can be heard ringing in a dumpster. Ito can look at the lock on the dumpster, shoot it, or investigate to find the key.
I did say the puzzles were lacking. Navigating the character across the 2D plane is smooth, however, she does have a bit of a strange animation when she runs. Something that took me over an hour to do as I was content walking everywhere, soaking up the atmosphere. That and I didn’t actually look up the controls.
Speaking of atmosphere, it’s the best part of Tokyo Dark. The whole game is swimming in it allowing a very Ringu esque horror story to shine through. The music and sound effects blend perfectly to really create something magical, especially when played in the dark complete with headphones. Is there any other way?
Each area has its own music that helps the place feel alive, whether that be disturbing background music in the more horrific parts of the game or more upbeat songs that play in an arcade or a club. There were times when the music and sound effects honestly made me feel as if I was playing Silent Hill when I closed my eyes.
A special mention has to go to the section in the suicide forest with its disturbing, and very realistic sounding, swinging bodies and evil laughs of children that will haunt my dreams.
Away from the horror, there are fair few errands to run for people in the game that offer a gentler pace through the midsection. These didn’t bore me though, far from it as they are very Japanse. Trying to get information from a cat-themed maid cafe and being distracted by the adorable cat-shaped pancakes is just a delight.
Tokyo Dark is a short game, especially if you’re the type of player who only plays things through once just to see the story. My first run through took a shade under 5 hours, while my second took just 30 minutes.
There’s a reason for the short second run that I won’t spoil, but let’s just say that some of the endings are dark. Most of the ones I’ve unlocked so far don’t seem too happy, as is often the way in Japanese storytelling and that is right up my street.
Outside of the first, spoiler-free, playthrough, the real beauty lies in trying to get all the endings. Subsequent playthroughs will see you noticing things you didn’t the first time around and really marveling at the Groundhog Day effect of it all.
After completing the game, Tokyo Dark allows players to make several save slots at different points to avoid having to slog through certain areas of the game just to see different outcomes. This is a simple thing but makes trying to unlock alternate endings a little easier.
I really enjoyed my time with this game even though it was fairly fleeting. It has left me wanting more and if a sequel is released, it would be an instant pre-order for me. It has been hard trying to review it and keep things spoiler-free as there are plenty of moments I just want to talk about.
As long as the visual novel aspect doesn’t put you off, I would highly recommend giving Tokyo Dark a try. It’s currently on sale over on the Eshop for $15.99 (usually $19.99) a price that may put some people off due to the playtime. Fans of this type of game should snap it up.
I’d happily buy each and every one of you a copy if I could afford it.
Verdict: A short game for players only interested in seeing one ending and light on puzzles for a supposed point and click. With an interesting story and dripping with atmosphere, I found that Tokyo Dark Remembrance is well worth a spot in anyone’s collection.
- Good story
- Great sounds
- Dripping with atmosphere
- It's short
- Not enough puzzles