Written and directed by Danganronpa creator Kazutaka Kodaka, Death Come True is an FMV thriller that tells the tale of an amnesiac serial killer trapped inside a strange hotel filled with even stranger guests. Protagonist Makoto Karaki quickly scrambles to uncover the truth behind his predicament, though the investigation is soon brought to a halt by his untimely death.

Cue him waking up right back where he started. It appears as though he’s stuck in a loop. And so the game is structured around exploring the hotel in order to investigate some strange goings-on, dying, then starting over with newfound knowledge from your previous runs. With it being a straightforward FMV game, your input is only ever required during key moments where a decision must be made.
When the time comes, you’ll be presented with an interactive recreation of the current scene, which gives you a chance to examine your surroundings and decide your next course of action. Being able to freely pause, fast forward, and rewind your way through the story is also much appreciated, and the game in general is more polished than your average FMV title, delivering a good-looking UI that helps to distract from the otherwise obvious budgetary constraints.

You’ll occasionally be asked to pick between several choices at once, though the “wrong” ones will almost always get you a quick slap on the wrist until you eventually select the game’s preferred option. On my second playthrough, I decided to derail things as much as I possibly could, but the narrative structure just doesn’t allow for this: try as you might, you’ll always be forced down the same strict path.

Repeat runs are, for the most part, entirely pointless as a result of this. There was one fairly extended scene that I missed the first time through, with everything else remaining much the same. The most you can hope for is a brief cutscene to show why the option you picked resulted in the lead’s death. And speaking of the deaths, they’re totally devoid of fun.

I wasn’t expecting Friday the 13th-level goofiness, but of the 16 potential failure states, the overwhelming majority are flat. In trying to be a campy, tongue-in-cheek farce and a violent thriller, the game straddles an awkward line and ultimately leaves both halves unfulfilled. It’s certainly possible to nail such a tricky tonal balance, look to SWERY’s work if you want proof of that, but Death Come True is unfortunately unconvincing in all of its pursuits.
As is, it’s a thriller devoid of tension, a comedy lacking in laughs, and a mystery that is unlikely to elicit more than a shrug. Its lead characters are similarly lacking, which becomes a larger issue when you’re suddenly expected to care very much about them in the final third.

The game peaks about five minutes in with the first appearance of its off-kilter newscaster, who wishes his viewers a “good after-evening”, then immediately congratulates himself on his creativity. He proves to be the first of several wholly underutilized weirdos, with the overwhelming majority of screen time going to the two most vanilla (and perpetually confused) characters.

So it falls to the inevitable twists and turns to pick up the slack. Sadly, Death Come True’s tale is oddly paced and, again, flat. When the intended shocks do arrive, they’re not particularly surprising or novel, which is a problem made worse by the game’s graceless means of unveiling its hand.

At what feels like the halfway point, a heap of story is thrown your way, with a character explaining the ins and outs of everything in an impressively unengaged manner, then it’s a race to the finish line, as if the game is in a hurry to roll credits and redeem itself with a suitably silly theme tune.

Death Come True exhibits little of the genuine eccentricity that makes the Danganronpa series work, and the game drops its many spinning plates one by one. Its story is weak, its cast is mishandled, and as a modern FMV title, it feels entirely unambitious.
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