Title: Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz
Developer: Arc System Works
Release Date: May 23, 2019
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: Arc System Works
Genre: Adventure Visual Novel
At a time when detective podcasts are at the height of their popularity, I’ve had this craving to just go out and crack a case. Interviewing witnesses and making connections to items, which on their own mean nothing. It’s all pretty exciting, to say the least. This is definitely what originally drew me to Arc System Work’s Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz, the newest entry in the Jake Hunter series.
With a new direction and visual overhaul, this entry in the series is meant to bring the detective to a new generation of gamers by showing them where he got his skills. In many ways, this is a brilliant game that gives fans of the series everything they could ask for as well as makes it an easy first entry to jump into. However, some shortcomings in story execution might leave players wanting more.
Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz begins by introducing players to a young Saburo Jinguji, or as he’s better known as in the west, Jake Hunter. Saburo is visiting his detective grandfather in New York from Japan and being taught the power of deduction through small investigation games. It’s a way to introduce the game’s new mechanics as well as to show Saburo’s connection and friendship with his grandfather. Overall, the opening scene is kept comical in tone and does a great job at setting these characters up for the rest of the story.
Fast forward to a young adult Saburo and a tragic event has taken place that brings him back to the states. His grandfather has been found murdered and Saburo would like to know why. His feelings of solving the case aren’t of revenge, he’s truly curious why his grandfather had to die and he expresses this several times throughout the story. However, what he probably doesn’t expect is being led down a case of coverups and lies which revolve around the mysterious Daedalus case that took place 20 years prior.
As far as the story goes, I really enjoyed the concept as well as the build-up to the final act. I appreciated the little items and clues scattered throughout the game that only make sense once new realizations are made. What’s interesting is that the game doesn’t try to throw you curve balls and twist endings. Instead, you pretty much solve the case alongside Saburo and when he questions someone’s actions it sticks with you. It’s not like Saburo is making realizations without the player knowing, which for a detective visual novel, did its job by making me feel like an actual detective.
Players will travel across multiple maps as they investigate several leads for the case. Exploration is done by using the newest feature in the series, the 360-degree camera. In every scene, the player is able to look around them 360-degrees as they investigate environments and get a closer look at items of interest. Some items require the player to be looked at several times or in a particular order which can make the game feel pretty linear. This becomes more prominent if you search a crime scene before speaking with a character who asks you to search through a crime to which you’ll have to search through everything again. However, I only encountered this a few times.
Interestingly, the game is not as linear as it seems. There are several paths the player can take and a few different endings to achieve. During events, players will be able to make choices in the dialog that can alter the flow of the conversation. With that said, this is a Jake Hunter game so expect screw ups during an interrogation to not weigh so heavily on the outcome of the case. The story knows where it wants to take you and you are pretty much on the journey save for a few key moments. Similarly, players must make sure to search through crime scenes completely before being able to progress the narrative. Sabura or the supporting cast will quickly remind you if there’s something that you missed.
Another feature has players collecting clues in order to use to solve the case. These clues manifest themselves into a tree the player can access to piece together the events and come to a conclusion. During the final interrogation, players will use the clues against the suspect and make their case. With that said, screwing up doesn’t really have a consequence and the player can take all the time they need. However, even though these scenes don’t have consequences, the game does feature a Game Over screen.
I really enjoyed the graphical direction of the game and its adventure elements. I found the chances that the development team took in this new design to be commendable even though fans might be more accustomed to the comic book like themes of the Jake Hunter series. The environments seem to be real locations given a watercolor-like filter, which makes the character illustrations stand out more prominently.
One thing that might put players off is the length of the story. This is a pretty short adventure, but fans of the Jake Hunter series might be used to this. With that said, there are reasons to replay the game for different outcomes and trust me, after the ending, you’ll want to jump right back in and try for a better conclusion. One thing that I really enjoyed was a flashback scene of Saburo and his friends at a camp solving a case. The parallels of Saburo trying to crack a case as a kid and as a young adult were so interesting that I wished they explored this feature more throughout the game’s chapters, but they only did this once.
Localization in the game was well done and I’ve got to commend the team for making some of the events work within the game’s engine. For instance, the clue tree shoves a lot of characters into the branches, which wouldn’t be the easiest things to implement considering character count, but they do a great job at forming sentences that work. Other key moments are tone and delivery. Saburo and the player don’t want to deal out all their cards at once so keeping the suspects in the dark about how much we know is key and the localization team did a great job at making these tense moments easy to follow and well delivered.
As far as the Jake Hunter series goes, Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz is as good as they come. It has everything that fans will enjoy about the series and the more hardcore of fans will find additional enjoyment in the little doses of fanservice sprinkled throughout the game, including iconic characters from the series. However, as a standout adventure game, the playtime of the quest might leave players wanting a bit more. Also, the game’s direction can get a bit confusing, which could leave players feeling lost and struggling to figure out where to go next. I would say that getting the additional endings makes the game more rewarding.
Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz is a masterclass detective game that doesn’t try to throw curve balls at you or have a surprise twist ending, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t epic. All the clues are right in front of you and together, with the young and yet to be famous Saburo, you’ll piece together this tragic event and crack the case wide open. I truly enjoyed myself with this game and feel like it is the perfect way to bring the Jake Hunter series to a new console generation and introduce him to a new fanbase.
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