Every genre explores the horrific nature of Halloween in unique ways. Whether it’s FPS gore and violence or platforming clichés, they all make for a fun seasonal change. However, Visual Novels capture the essence of the holiday perfectly. SHINRAI – Broken Beyond Despair will test your detective skills as a friendly get together turns sour.
Developed by Gosatsu Visual Novels and published by Ratalaika Games, this is a murder mystery VN. Its dark and sinister twist is at odds with its cute and fun teen rom-com undertones. A plot that explores friendship, romance, and teen angst quickly takes a turn for the worse.
SHINRAI – Broken Beyond Despair is the perfect murder mystery.
No one goes to a party to fight for their life and solve a murder. Yet, this is exactly what happens in SHINRAI – Broken Beyond Despair! Ten young teenagers come together to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve. Partying in a secluded mountain resort, the group thought they had chosen the ideal venue. Sadly, someone took advantage of their isolated position and now one of the party is dead! The night is ruined, but more importantly, the murderer walks freely amongst you all. You must use your powers of deduction to unearth the clues and piece together the mystery. Speed is of the essence, otherwise, someone else may lose their life.
This large visual novel of 150,000 words is a fantastic example of a fun and intense murder mystery drama. Capturing the usual VN mechanics, this is the perfect title for veteran gamers and newcomers alike. You are shown pages of text before the normal dialogue choices become available. This was a little strange, but eventually, these options became the backbone of the gameplay and the investigation.
You spend your time exploring and talking to the people who were once your friends. The non-linear approach was fantastic, as it allowed you to generate your conclusions, whether they were right or wrong. The developer’s eye for detail and cleverly interlaced characters add to the intrigue and enhance the intelligent writing style.
A game comprising two distinct chapters.
The gameplay has been split into two distinct chapters, the Prologue and the main story. This was a great idea, though the Prologue at first glance leaves a lot to be desired. Its attempts at childish humour, sexual chemistry, and pointless dialogue, fall flat. Yet, once you peel back the layers, you discover some clever introductions to the characters and the unfolding relationships between the protagonists.
This solid foundation continues throughout the main story and the subtleties are key to the core concept. You’ll enjoy dissecting the clues and piecing together the information. The well-written script comprises many twists and turns and is fascinating as it evolves. SHINRAI: Broken Beyond Despair is an excellent murder mystery title that competes with genre-leading titles. Therefore fans of Ace Attorney, Hatoful Boyfriend, or Danganronpa will adore it thanks to its complexities and colourful characters.
SHINRAI: Broken Beyond Despair’s sinister and melancholy style is perfect.
The sultry colour palette and dated backdrops work wonders in creating a sinister atmosphere. Subsequently, the game is bubbling with personality from the off and this complements the slow but intense plot. Moreover, the bizarre Halloween costumes juxtapose the brutal nature of the story while adding some much-needed lighthearted relief. My only gripe was the reliance on a Manga/Anime approach that insists on over sexualising the characters. This wouldn’t normally offend me, however, the age of the protagonists makes this totally unacceptable and a step too far.
Fortunately, the audio steered away from clichéd Halloween sounds and music. Its dark and oppressive tones match the heinous crimes that lace the brilliant tale. Happily, the key moments are matched by high tempo or minor-keyed songs that generated drama and tension at the right times. The music and sound effects are expertly delivered while playing second fiddle to the excellent dialogue.
A simple UI with no surprises.
Visual Novels stick to tried and tested mechanics and this happily follows suit. Its simple UI helps to manage the clues and piece together the information at hand. A helpful hint button can be used if needed and a free-flowing cursor or the D-pad are used to navigate each scene. It’s a well-designed approach that offers few surprises, and it was easy to pick up. Furthermore, you can control the pace of the text and skip the dialogue, if you wish. This was an ideal option when you wanted to revisit the game to explore every avenue.
Revisiting this is a necessary evil thanks to its six different endings. There is one ‘true’ finale and five ‘bad’ conclusions. This adds a vast amount of replay value, and its longevity is increased thanks to the opportunity to skip previously seen text. Though returning may not be for everyone, I loved seeing how every culprit reacted to your accusations.
SHINRAI: Broken Beyond Despair is a genre-leading title.
Though I wasn’t a fan of the sexualised images, this was my only gripe. Every other element combines perfectly to create an intelligent and fulfilling murder mystery novel. It’s as good, if not better than its rivals and it’s worthy of your time. Do not be put off by the Prologue as its inane style serves a purpose and isn’t as irrelevant as you first think. I adored it and recommend you to buy it here! Murder is a horrible crime, yet you have no choice but to stick around and see who did it. Can you piece together the clues, or will the murderer get away with their deadly deed?