Category Archives: 2019

Death end re;Quest: The Art of Fighting

One of the things Compile Heart’s Galapagos RPG project has been keen to do ever since its inception is experiment with mechanics, particularly when it comes to combat.

Death end re;Quest is an excellent example of this, featuring several layers of mechanics that keep things consistently interesting as you play through the main story and the optional side content. It’s also one of Compile Heart’s better balanced games to date, featuring a smooth incline in challenge factor rather than sudden, unexpected spikes.

Let’s take a closer look at how it all works.

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Death end re;Quest: Where Does the Game End and the World Begin?

One of the most interesting things about Death end re;Quest is the fact that it gradually evolves over the course of its duration, with new mechanics and structural elements being continually introduced throughout the first distinct “part” of the game.

Today we’re going to take a look at part of the game’s overall mechanics and structure: specifically, the part of the experience that allows you to explore and advance the overall story. We won’t be discussing the narrative specifically today — just how it’s presented and how the game hangs together.

It’s one of Compile Heart’s most interesting games, even before you’ve unlocked everything — so let’s take a closer look at one of its coolest aspects.

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Death end re;Quest: Introduction

Although Idea Factory and Compile Heart will likely always be known as “the Neptunia people” thanks to the success of their flagship franchise, this cult favourite collective has been becoming more and more adventurous and creative as the years have advanced.

A big part of this experimentation comes in the form of Compile Heart’s “Galapagos RPG” project. Originally set up in 2013 with the mission to “develop RPGs specifically for Japanese customers”, the intention behind the studio was to eschew the growing trend for Japanese developers to change their style in a specific attempt to court a wider Western audience, and instead to focus primarily on that core audience. This wouldn’t rule Galapagos games out of being localised, mind you — it just meant they’d be unapologetically Japanese.

Sounds good to me. And going by the strength of past games put out by the project — including Fairy Fencer F and Omega Quintet — it seems to be a winning formula for the studio. Let’s take a first look at their latest, and where it came from.

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428: Shibuya Scramble – In Search of the Truth

Many games these days make a point of providing some sort of “added value” over and above their base experience. Be it a postgame chapter with stiff challenges, post-launch DLC or a New Game Plus mode, these features are typically there to keep you playing even after you see the credits roll.

Visual novels, as an offshoot of video games, aren’t typically known for having substantial postgame content other than the “metagame” that multi-route titles have: seeing all the possible narrative routes and collecting all the CG illustrations. But, as we’ve already established fairly comprehensively in this feature already, Spike Chunsoft’s 428: Shibuya Scramble isn’t a game to do things… “conventionally”.

Oh, sure, the base game has 85 “bad ends” to collect (with a series of trophies and achievements attached to these, encouraging you to seek them out rather than avoid them — and it’s worth doing so because several are very odd indeed!) as well as a “normal” and a “true” ending, but once you’ve seen the main narrative through to a satisfactory conclusion, you’re not done. Not by a surprisingly long shot.

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428: Shibuya Scramble – A Question of Identity

Well, it’s time to unravel some of the mysteries at the core of 428: Shibuya Scramble. And there are plenty of them!

Not only that, but “beating” the game isn’t the end, either; once you’ve seen the “normal” or “true” endings, there are other, more deviously hidden scenarios to track down… but that’s a tale for another day. Today, we’re going to focus on the how the game explores its various protagonists and one of its most important core themes.

Let’s step back into Shibuya, then… the beating heart of one of the world’s busiest cities.

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428: Shibuya Scramble – The Mechanics of Storytelling

When we’re talking about conventional games — particularly today’s games — it’s important to consider them from a wide variety of perspectives.

Typically, we look at a game from several different angles: the way it’s presented through its sights and sounds; the way it plays through its mechanics; and, where applicable, how it handles its story.

When contemplating visual novels, the balance tends to be a little different. We tend to up the focus on narrative considerably, and in many cases mechanics don’t enter the picture at all — many visual novels simply don’t have any! That is, unless you’re 428: Shibuya Scramble, in which case your narrative and mechanics combine together to produce something exceedingly interesting…

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428: Shibuya Scramble – Introduction and History

Every so often a game comes along that really makes you sit up and pay attention.

Sometimes it’s because it features a beautiful refinement or evolution of some established mechanics. Sometimes it’s because it really pushes graphical technology forwards. Sometimes it has famous names attached to it.

And sometimes it’s 428: Shibuya Scramble, a title so far removed from what we traditionally think of as a “video game” that you can’t help but notice it.

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