If ever there was a game for you to try a visual novel game, then this is it. 428 Shibuya Scramble, is actually nearly ten years old. Having been released on the Wii back in 2008, then versions for the PSP, PS3, IOS, Android, Windows, have all come along to now have one for the PS4. There is a reason why they have chosen this game, because it’s succeeded in standing up to the test of time, to still be excellent.
The story ( for which this review will be spoiler free ) is set around the area of Tokyo called Shibuya, and you play as 5 main characters to solve what appears to be the mystery of a kidnapping. What sets this game apart though is not just the excellent story but the gameplay mechanic within.
How this works is live video film footage and still, pictures of real people ( not computer graphics ) act out the scenes with text appearing underneath for you to read. Then at certain points, you as the player have to make decisions that then affect the rest of the story. For example, the first encounter as you make the decision to approach someone or not. If you do it’s game over, but if you don’t you carry on. The game gives you a timeline to go back to that decision point to change and then move forward. However, the joy of this game, and it’s beauty is that with 5 characters doing different things all based around the one central plot, figuring out who or what to do to change to move on is exciting and leads down many different interesting paths, so much so, the game has a total whopping 85 different endings!
With so many options based on one excellent and gripping storyline, it simply begs to be played multiple times, sometimes just for the fun of finding out what a different choice would have made. Added to the excellent narrative, superb story, interesting gameplay mechanic for a visual novel, you also have outstanding presentation and audio. The opening sequence especially gripped me in the style of a 1980’s TV cop theme, with interesting bright colourful visuals flashing before my eyes. For a visual novel, it certainly makes the most of the medium to grab your attention, and it doesn’t take long to realize this is something special.
Finally, little touches made a big difference. Simple and interesting menus encourage easy navigation, superb music throughout the game, encouraged me to search out the music offline to listen to again. But one of the biggest things that struck me was, even the simple things that normally are so boring in other games, like the presentation of the text, the game credits, and simple in-game graphics, had attention to detail to make even the mundane things interesting.