By Chris Melchin / April 5th, 2019
There’s no voice acting in 428: Shibuya Scramble outside of Canaan’s story. It’s not something that feels like it’s missing – actually helping it feel like a novel with the writing style – and I actually didn’t realize right away that it wasn’t there. The music is great, although I wish it included a music player when you get either the true or regular ending, like in most visual novels. It includes the song “Sekai de Sore Demo Kawari wa Shinai” by Aya Kamiki, who makes a cameo in-game as herself. There are actually a few of these cameos, including the plot writer Yukinori Kitajima and a hidden message from Spike Chunsoft CEO Koichi Nakamura.
My biggest gripe with 428 is that the process for unlocking some of the bonus content tends to be quite cryptic, and I needed to use a guide for some of it. Going beyond making a specific sequence of choices or seeing a certain number of bad endings, especially to find the aforementioned hidden messages would have been impossible for me to figure out without using a guide. The three major side stories are particularly worth it, however. Canaan’s side story is the most well-known, being written and illustrated by Type-Moon’s Kinoko Nasu and Takeshi Takeuchi, the creators of such series as Fate, Tsukihime, and Kara no Kyoukai, with a sequel coming in the form of an anime series. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of how Nasu writes, and that goes for Canaan just as much as his other works I’ve seen, but that’s a matter of personal preference. I also encountered a number of relatively minor typos – mostly missing punctuation or spaces – as well as having the game crash on me a few times when going between the character story select screens and the time chart.
Overall, I really enjoyed 428: Shibuya Scramble. The story is excellent; incredibly engaging, getting my very emotionally invested in all the characters especially as things ramped up in the later hours. The writing style perfectly combines seriousness and occasional lighthearted jokes when appropriate, making it enjoyable even during relative downtime. None of the main characters stand out as particularly weaker than the others, and each of their stories carries the same weight and quality all the way throughout the game. That’s a long way, too; completing everything took me just shy of 50 hours, with just playing through until the end of the epilogue taking just over 40 hours. Even though it’s on the longer side, it still kept me fully engaged through all of it, and is definitely worth the $49.99 USD, having easily earned the respect it has among visual novels. If you’re at all interested in visual novels, mystery and detective stories, or you just want something exciting and different (there’s even a demo on PS4 if you don’t want to take the full plunge right away), I can’t recommend 428: Shibuya Scramble highly enough.
Review copy provided by oprainfall
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