Disaster Report is back and now heads to the Nintendo Switch. With this fourth installment you are going to explore what happens when a major disaster happens and how it affects your surroundings. For this subject alone it should become highly interesting for players to want to try it out, but is it also good? Well..
The plot of Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories can be defined, with playful intent and certainly not malicious, as catastrophic. Not because the narrative rhythms are badly managed or the characters present (with respective actions) are not interesting: simply, at the center of the story there is a gigantic earthquake, which affects an unidentified Japanese metropolis. On the contrary: earthquake with aftershocks to follow, decidedly intense and punitive.
The protagonist of the Granzella title does not have a very specific face: it is the player who chooses it, just as he also chooses his narrative background and his ambitions. Where does the main hero come from? Where was he headed before the earthquake? These and many other questions can be answered by studying the game world, as well as by exploiting all the various possibilities: that is, lines and lines of dialogue, during discreetly long internal monologues and, after the first hour of play, also quite repetitive and it becomes exhausting quite fast.
The protagonist is immediately catapulted in the story. During a bus trip the tremendous shock arrives, and the world as it had been up to now in the city collapses on itself. From this point on, the aim is to reach a safe point and, if possible, to try to go home. But not before helping some strangers met on their way.
Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories from a conceptual point of view is a dynamic adventure, but not of the type proposed in recent years by Quantic Dream or TellTale Games, just to mention two of the leading developers of the sector. First of all, the production of Granzella, with its gameplay, is a title strongly based on exploration: within more or less contained environments, the hero moves around to talk to everyone, touches everything, analyzes every object, reads every notice and interacts with everything that can be interacted with. Without this preliminary wandering operation, any possibility of continuing in the story is precluded, because Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is based on events that are apparently activated randomly, actually according to a precise logic prepared and calculated by the developers.
And here is one of the main problems of the game: this logic is unknown, and not easily understood. There is no precise indicator that tells the protagonist what to do, or that gives him at least a vague idea of how to do it: yes, there is a compass at the bottom right of the screen, also customizable, but it is not really useful. Immediately there is a map supplied, which indicates through a sort of bright patches (or sheets of paper? Or lines of color?) The highlighted points, but nothing more. The only immediately recognizable place in any environment is the checkpoint, where you can rest and save the game.
If we were to stop here, Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories would simply be a Japanese title where you run randomly from one place to another hoping that something will happen sooner or later. Let me be clear, the game is also this, but not only. Fortunately the dialogues (internal and with the other characters) as well as the possibility of interacting with the NPCs make the adventure less monotonous than expected. All this does not always provide an adequate stimulus for progression, at least not as it would be necessary, but everything for better or worse more often than not stands up.
At any time there is an opportunity to talk to the other survivors: from this point of view, Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories represents an excellent way to probe the human soul in conditions of extreme discomfort. How do people behave immediately after a devastating earthquake? Some will try to save their loved ones and ask for help, other offenders will continue to commit a crime (in the initial moments a bad face will ask us to indicate where his victim fled), and we also met a cursed loan shark who wanted to sell bottles of water at an exorbitant price, without even being the real owner of the shop in question.
The lines of dialogue and the possibilities of choice are many, but most of the time they influence the narrative progression only marginally; we try more to offer a personalized adventure than a truly branched story. It should also be said that the title will not be perfectly usable for players who do not chew at least a basic level of English, since the game only has one language option.
Sooner or later the sore note had to come. Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories doesn’t present itself greatly, forgettable graphics, limited gaming environments in the extension and most of the time bare (albeit credible), and dated visual effects. In enclosed spaces, even exploration is difficult, because the management of shadows and lighting has given way to pure chaos and non-existent optimization.
Fortunately, both in TV and portable mode, Nintendo Switch is able to offer a version of Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories with drops in frame rates that are most of the time bearable, in the face of an entire visual style that is absolutely forgettable. Our advice is this one: if you want to try the title of Granzella, which still offers an interesting narrative and about 60 credible and sufficiently varied characters (but with the Japanese clichés you might expect, see the high school students), then we advice to wait for a discount.
Disaster Report 4 sadly isn’t what you would expect from an otherwise interesting setting and idea.