Rain Code falls short of meeting the high expectations set by the renowned Danganronpa games, despite being developed by a team associated with the series. The game starts off with a gripping murder case involving an amnesiac protagonist named Yuma, who discovers his affiliation with the World Detective Organisation during a train ride. This sets the stage for a thrilling whodunit, and the story unfolds with a total of six cases to solve.
Among the initial four cases, only the introductory chapter manages to stand out. It impresses with its boldness and unpredictability, providing a compelling narrative that leads to a satisfying conclusion. Yuma finds himself in Kanai Ward, a rain-soaked city controlled by the enigmatic Amaterasu Corporation. Here, he learns that he and other Master Detectives have been brought together to uncover the city’s secrets and mysteries.
As Yuma tackles each murder, the cases are divided into two parts. First, he conducts investigations at the crime scenes, interacts with potential suspects, and gathers crucial clues. Then, he must use his detective skills to identify the culprit, decipher the murder method, and uncover the motive, aided by his unusual sidekick, Shinigami.
Shinigami, a death god bound to Yuma due to a mysterious pact that caused his amnesia, possesses the power to create Mystery Labyrinths. These mind-bending palaces challenge Yuma to answer questions through minigames, eventually leading to the resolution of the cases and the exposure and execution of the culprits – reminiscent of the style seen in the Danganronpa games. However, the execution of the labyrinth segments in Rain Code leaves much to be desired.
Unlike Danganronpa’s engaging trials, which involve storytelling and dynamic interactions with a variety of characters, the labyrinths in Rain Code feel lacking. They freeze time and present mere manifestations of the characters, diminishing the sense of stakes and narrative depth. This makes the labyrinth segments feel like unnecessary additions, especially for players who have already deduced the case.
Thankfully, the game manages to redeem itself with the last two chapters. The penultimate case elevates emotional stakes and complexity, overcoming the flaws of the labyrinth structure. The final case culminates Yuma’s journey in Kanai Ward, showcasing excellent world-building that enhances the overall story. Rain Code stands out by allowing players to freely explore various districts and areas in 3D, creating an immersive experience.
Moreover, Yuma’s involvement in side-quests adds to the city’s character, even if these tasks are straightforward. This immersive aspect pays off, as players become more invested in the murder cases when connected with the central characters, much like the engaging relationships seen in Danganronpa.
While Shinigami initially comes across as obnoxious, the endgame provides some redemption for the character. The rest of the cast is solid, with engaging relationships between Yuma, Yakou, Kurumi, and Halara.
Ultimately, Rain Code offers a satisfyingly twisty adventure, although it does have its share of shortcomings. Patient players who give it a chance will find themselves rewarded with an enjoyable experience that partially fills the void left by the beloved Danganronpa series.