By Jenae R / May 18th, 2020
|Title||Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories|
|Release Date||April 7th, 2020|
|Platform||Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC|
Disaster Report 4 was a completely blind playthrough for me. Going into it, I knew almost nothing about the series other than some of what NIS America has shown while promoting this fourth entry. I thought it looked pretty interesting, but in looking up how long some of the past entries were, it didn’t sound like a game that was necessarily worth $60. As interesting as it appeared to be, I don’t tend to prioritize or spend a lot on games that are less than so many hours. Considering all of this, I decided to request this review and find out what Disaster Report was all about.
Disaster Report 4 takes place in Japan in a random city in which the unnamed main character you control happens to be visiting. When you’re on a bus on the way to this city, a large earthquake strikes and your bus is overturned. Your reason for visiting is as you see fit. By that I mean, you get a selection of choices to choose between for why you’re visiting, be it for a job interview or merely for fun. A lot of these choices in the game don’t matter and are simply there for your enjoyment and to decide how you want things to be. The goal of DR4 is to survive the earthquake and its many aftershocks.
The reason for you being in town and where you go aren’t the only decisions to make. You’ll have numerous options throughout Disaster Report 4, from what your character looks like and how they dress, to a variety of dialogue choices when talking to NPCs. You can choose responses that make sense or you could decide to hit on everyone you meet, the choice is yours. Although, you will find that the game has a morality system. If you decide to only help people for rewards, you’ll rack up a ton of negative immorality points. DR4 is mostly an exploration type of adventure game and survival to an extent. The key to moving forward is exploring each part of town you’re in and conversing with the people until you’ve figured out what the next problem you need to solve is. While you’re exploring, if you walk to certain areas at the right time, aftershocks will go off and knock you over should you not be careful enough. This leads me to my first complaint. I found in the beginning when there are more things you have to be wary of, it was easier to keep an eye out if I used the 1st person camera option. But I didn’t like the way it looks, it makes it seem like you’re crouching and your head is only a foot or two off the ground. It didn’t feel like it was placed where it should be for an average sized human.
Like I just mentioned, it is to an extent a survival game. You’re trying to get through a disaster and get out of the city alive. Your character has a health bar that will go down should you be hit by falling debris, fall on your butt when running during an aftershock, or anything similar. There’s also a stress notification that might pop up by the health bar in addition to your need for food, water, or to use the bathroom. If your stress increases significantly from, for example, diving underwater in a sunken apartment to search for rope, then it will encroach upon your health bar, making it much easier to die and get a game over. The other notifications by the health bar I honestly didn’t notice any legitimate consequences from. There was one point during the game where I couldn’t get my character to a bathroom quick enough and she’d be squirming around if I stood still for too long. But I didn’t see my health bar go down or recede like it does with an increased amount of stress. You can reduce stress by choosing to rest at a save point. There are at least one or two save points in each part of the city you go to. Each area is its own confined puzzle to figure out before you can move on.
Now that you have an idea of what Disaster Report 4 is and how to progress, let’s discuss more about what I actually thought of my time with it. First of all, I honestly wish I requested a PS4 copy. The game does not run very well on Switch. It’s not terrible, but it’s not fantastic either. It looked pretty bad for a game made using the Unreal Engine. Undocked, most of the faces and similar little details were somewhat blurred and just not very crisp or good looking. Even docked it wasn’t the best looking game I’ve ever seen. I never tried the demo on PS4 or PC, so I don’t know how much better those versions are, but it clearly wasn’t designed for Nintendo Switch at all. It looked like it was only made at bare minimum, to run on the system and work with the available controllers. In addition to not looking great, it didn’t run as well as one should expect either. Throughout Disaster Report 4 there were certain points where the framerate was iffy. There was even this glitchy part where I was on a ferry dock and another scripted aftershock started. I could view the crack in the ground and which part of the dock was going to fall off, and yet what I believed to be a safe portion of the dock completely sank, leaving my character stuck drowning with one hand sticking up out of the water. I sat there (well technically I sank there) frozen, unable to do anything, with a completely empty health bar. I ended up closing and re-opening the game to continue on from where I last saved. Once I saw the dock sink again, this time having gotten safely inside before it sank, the part I believed was safe and wouldn’t sink, didn’t. Fortunately, that was the only major glitch I encountered.
The story and overall experience is a lot better than how the game performs. Throughout the game you’ll meet many different characters. As I said earlier, it’s up to you whether you want to be kind, hit on them, or if you want to demand payment for your help. Every encounter will be different and this is what makes Disaster Report 4 truly entertaining. Well that and all of the crazy twists and turns the story takes you on. At one point I found myself giving a bunch of people supposed miracle water and the mayor wanted to reward me for helping out. I could’ve taken nothing, but I wanted to try the more interesting choices and thus, I became the owner of a condominium. I saved in a separate slot for that one too, so I could check out some of the fourth wall breaking options I missed out on. Such as being able to change the title to Disaster Report 5, or go straight to the credits and therefore reward myself for giving out miracle water and saving a shelter of people affected by the disaster.
Whenever you do finish the game, you’ll unlock an epilogue. In the epilogue I unlocked, I returned to the city almost half a year later and got to see what became of some of the people I encountered. It’s much shorter than the main game, but you will get to revisit a handful of areas after they’ve been significantly rebuilt and find out what’s happened to people you met. The vast majority of the choices in Disaster Report 4 won’t change anything. Though near the end of the game, I was given two options of where I could go to finally be safe and finish out my journey. There very well may be slightly different endings. I honestly don’t know if the epilogue would change had I chosen the opposite of what I did, but I look forward to potentially playing through the game again in the future and making different choices than I did initially.
In the end, I enjoyed my overall time with Disaster Report 4. I spent a little over 15 hours with the game and it was a truly interesting experience. I still don’t think it’s worth $60 whatsoever. Nevertheless, if you want to go on a unique journey and you happen to have a PS4 or a decent computer, I’d definitely recommend trying out the game should it go on sale. It’s most definitely an experience worth going on at least once if you’re curious. Disaster Report 4 has its own special sort of charm regardless of not being the highest quality title performance-wise.
Review copy was provided by the publisher.
Disaster Report 4Disaster Report 4: Summer Memoriesgranzellanintendo switchNIS AmericaPCPS4