The Nintendo Switch has truly become the system that caters to the indie based audience, with an enormous selection of titles to choose from. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance is just one of those titles and we had the opportunity to play through this noir-inspired detective game. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance places a lot of emphasis on the traditional point-and-click style of gameplay, while still alluring players with its visual novel horror aesthetic to keep you engaged. Anyone who’s looking for something dark, along with good presentation then keep reading, as we’ll dive deeper into the game and what makes it stand out.
What to Expect
As mentioned previously, Tokyo Dark: Remembrance is a game that takes inspiration from the noir genre, throwing in horror to keep players on their toes. The horror appeal in visual novels tend to be quite favorable in most cases since most come with very simple controls, and provoke the player with a lot of surprising events to keep them focused on what’s happening. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance doesn’t go too overboard with its shock factor but when it does, it definitely wakes you up and creates a very uneasy atmosphere. It does a solid job of placing you in the shoes (or mind) of main character Itou and allows you to truly understand just what she’s going through in those rough moments.
Much of Tokyo Dark: Remembrance falls around the story of Itou Ayami, a four-year veteran detective, situated at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. You’ve been tasked to figure out the situation regarding your partner as to why they’ve gone missing, and along the way she must come to terms with her own turbulent past and sanity as she must confront her supernatural demons.
So in terms of visuals, Tokyo Dark: Remembrance does a great job on its overall presentation, creating a world that feels very dark and unforgiving, while the character designs are well-suited to the genre being depicted. Everything that takes place within the game feels authentic and true to its style, providing players with a satisfying experience as you dive deeper into this dark underworld, and coming to terms with the truth that you uncover along the way. Be it the flickering of lights in a dark room only to reveal some creepy silhouette stalking you, or just walking into a bar trying to dig for details from the local patrons, Tokyo Dark: Remembrance does a splendid job of setting the tone depending on what you’re doing, and where you are in the game.
In a similar fashion, the audio in the game compliments the visuals in a remarkable way, helping to create a more substantive experience as you wander around trying to collect evidence regarding your missing partner. There is sadly, a lack of voicing to really add more emotion to the story, since attaching a voice to a character really does help to develop a stronger emotional bond with the character in many ways. In spite of that the game still illustrates just how much pain and suffering Itou is going through not just on a physical level, but on a mental level which we see through her past.
However, while the audio-visual design definitely created a strong immersive experience, the main problem lies in how it was executed. While we become aware of Itou’s strange past, it lacks in real substance since the supernatural elements surrounding her life kind of leave you feeling bereft of what’s going on. There’s no real punishment at all for what Itou had done in her past and that’s primarily because of all the supernatural conundrum that took place. She walks around feeling somewhat distant about the incidents prior, which gives us the impression that perhaps her past wasn’t as terrible as she makes it seem. From a plot standpoint it seems to fit the bill, as a lot neo-noir titles tend to create that sort of dreary and cold character, but from our perspective playing it lacks a lot of emotional depth. We’d like to empathize with Itou but oftentimes that goes straight out the window because there just doesn’t seem to be any sort of investment into her own self-worth.
Another misstep is that we barely know anything about her partner, albeit through various flashbacks that we see throughout the game, but due to the lack of backstory in that area it becomes increasingly more difficult to truly understand Itou and her relationship with her partner. Were they in a loving relationship? Did they grow up together? There were some subtle hints to perhaps give incentive but even those weren’t very clear and left us wondering what was truly going on. Like how did the relationship suffer and why did it transform Itou into the woman she is now? A lot of questions get swept under the rug and you’re left trying to piece the puzzle together without much guidance. The only ever real emotional bond we get to see through the eyes of Itou is her relationship with cats, and how well she comforts them. It’s one of the more rare moments within the game where you tend to really see a more human side to Itou, and not just some one dimensional being.
Another issue that seems to pop out in plain sight is just the overall flow of the story and how things tie together, which sadly don’t add up too well. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance places heavy emphasis on the mystery behind Itou and her partner, along with her supernatural past. The problem here is how everything is laid out to us too quickly and so the tension that should be created around the mystery is now diluted because we know who Itou is dealing with right from the get go. Unlike in most other neo-noir mystery titles where you really have to dig deep in order to solve the mysteries that lie ahead, there really isn’t much digging and more hand-holding in a way since you have your supernatural abilities to pull you out of harm's way. The positive however lies in how well the pacing is and the game does a great job of not throwing too much information down your throat, and still maintains good dialogue. It’s just that things often feel too linear which really doesn’t help in any way, especially during investigations where you’re supposed to feel as if you’re being thrown around and need to reassess your steps. We didn’t feel any of that.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
In the end, Tokyo Dark: Remembrance hits on a few good points but has to battle with a lot of shortcomings that ultimately take away that emotional experience. Not a lot of your decisions are truly your own and even when you think it is, much of it is already set in stone. It makes doing investigations seem more like a routine chore than an actual true investigation, leaving you feeling a little underwhelmed. Your choices at times do have an impact but in terms of overall progression regarding the actual plot, a lot of it is decided for you. For a game being all about taking action and playing the role of a detective, much of that action and investigating doesn’t truly feel authentic. Tie that in with the lack of puzzles to help stimulate you and a somewhat lacking gameplay mechanic known as the S.P.I.N. (Sanity, Professionalism, Investigation, and Neurosis) system, which helps to keep track of Itou’s mental well being, Tokyo Dark: Remembrance just requires a little more fine tuning. The system itself is a great idea and seems like something that could work with more attention to detail, but it lacks in conveying any realism since there really wasn’t any challenge.
Audio-visual design is top notch and we’d like to see more done in this area for next time.
Along the way your choices, while not resulting in anything TOO crazy, still do result in something tangible and has an effect on Itou.
If you invest into the game long enough you will be rewarded, as there are a total of 13 endings.
More work needs to be done in order for the S.P.I.N. system to feel more complete.
The story just doesn’t seem to come together very well, mostly due to how little we know about Itou and her relationships.
Honey's Final Verdict:
So there you have it, another game in the review bag. We hope that you found our review of Tokyo Dark: Remembrance to be an insightful one, and that it helped you better understand the flow of the game. Be sure to leave your comments below and let us know how you feel about the game, and whether it was one that intrigued you! Hit us up of course on social media and be sure to show some love on our official Discord channel as well!
Until next time!
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!