A live-action visual novel with over 50 endings and a mechanic where you can interrupt other characters stories for different outcomes? Sign me up!
So I remember I was just strolling through YouTube one day and I saw the trailer for 428 Shibuya Scramble… And I thought to myself, “Well, isn’t this some batshit insane Japanese stuff that I can get into”! Immediately I wanted to play it. I had to do some research and I realised that this game was Japan-exclusive on the fucking Wii of all places… However I also found out that this game has gotten a perfect score on Famitsu. Now if that isn’t setting some expectations I dunno what is.
I don’t really have a good relationship with visual novels. I’m the kind of person who gets bored really fricking easily and needs, you know, actual gameplay to keep myself invested. The only reason I can enjoy David Cage games is that they throw a dumb button prompt at me every once in a while… So my experience with VN’s has not been good and I was fully aware of this going into this game. I should probably address big live-action elephant in the room. Yes, all the visuals in this game are live-action. This isn’t your weeb daddy’s visual novel; we got real people being real as hell. Nah but jokes aside I think I wouldn’t have liked it nearly as much if it wasn’t, and a lot of the jokes would totally not have been as funny without them. That’s not to say this game is all fun and jokes with its tone. It definitely has amazing serious moments as well and once again the live-action stills elevate them.
The first half hour was kind of a slog for me because I’m an impatient baby and needs explosions to be present for me to stay invested – The story involves a kidnapping of a young girl. You follow five characters who are in all honesty the reason why this game is so good. You get a full tutorial section with two of the main characters, one which is a new detective who used to be a cop, and a teenager and ex-gang member who loves to keep Shibuya clean. The tutorial does a great job at showing you the system that you’re going to be using all throughout the game.
Getting a bad ending is really freaking easy in this game – Your primary tool to help yourself avoid that is the Time Chart. Every chapter – for lack of a better term – is split up in one hour in the game’s story, and the whole game takes place in one day. So within the hour, you have to make decisions and your decisions will leave a ginormous ripple effect on the other characters. One thing you do can leave a bad ending to another character and vice versa, and sometimes viewing these bad endings is the best possible course of action because a lot of trial and error is involved. For example, there is a situation in the very beginning where the detective is chasing someone. Now he gets an order from his higher-ups to stop chasing them but you have to make the decisions whether or not he should. If you choose to continue chasing that person the other character within that situation has a completely new section open where you can continue to progress through the story. If you decided to give up the chase you would have returned back to where the other character is and it would have been another bad end. I’m trying to keep this as vague as possible as to avoid spoilers but also give you all a good idea of what I mean by the decision making in this game.
You will be going back a lot to see what sticks and what doesn’t and that’s a lot of the fun when it comes to this game. The other half of the fun comes with the great writing, likeable characters, amazing humour, and fantastic translations. The translators seriously did a great job at getting the jokes through so our dumb little brains could understand and for the most part they stick the landing. There’s also this one background character they bring up like once named Leland Palmer… What’s up with Japanese people and Twin Peaks anyways?
So if you like Visual Novels, definitely check this out. If you are a fan of a really good story with amazing characters check this out… But if you just want gameplay and nothing else then tough luck this game is still a Visual Novel through and through. I would give 428 Shibuya Scramble an: