Death Come True Review – An FMV Adventure

    Title: Death Come True
    Developer: Too Kyo Games
    Release Date: June 25, 2020
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: IzanagiGames
    Genre: Adventure

The visual novel genre is continuously criticized as to whether they are actual games or not. Regardless of the conversations, it still finds a way to evolve and grow over the years. Sure, some still rely on kinetic storytelling, but others have found a good niche by adding in adventure systems. However, why stop there? Developer Too Kyo Games has brought together some of the best minds within the adventure visual novel space to give us an interactive film project titled Death Come True.

Written by Kazutaka Kodaka, the creator and scenario writer for the Danganronpa series as well as several cases in the Detective Saburo Jinguji/Jake Hunter franchise. Death Come True is a title that I’ve been excited about since it was first announced, and thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.

Death Come True stars Makoto Karaki, a young man who has woken up in a hotel room without his memories. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s an unconscious woman in his bathroom with her hands bound, and the five o’clock news just ran a bulletin telling people to be on the lookout for one “Makoto Karaki,” a wanted serial killer.

However, it doesn’t stop there, police are on the lookout nearby who are remarkably trigger happy, yet all seem to miss the cloaked being who is out for blood. Luckily, Makoto’s not entirely out of luck since whenever he dies, he resets back to the hotel room where his adventure began, but with those past memories intact. His only hope of getting through this nightmare and recovering his memories is to work through the many secrets this hotel holds.

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As aforementioned, Death Come True is an FMV adventure where gameplay merely exists in the form of player choice. It’s no different from watching a mystery sci-fi flick that involves characters investigating a strange location. You can use the shoulder buttons of the controller to jump backward and forwards about 10 seconds or so, but forward jumping is disabled whenever Makoto is about to make a decision, so you don’t miss the immediate context.

Due to the gameflow, there isn’t an actual Game Over screen unless you choose to exit to the main menu upon death, so you don’t have to worry about making mistakes preventing you from progressing. However, you have to play the entire story in one shot, and there’s no option to save your game at any point. This means that Death Come True is relatively short with a runtime of no more than two hours.

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Regardless of the runtime, Death Come True pulls you in with the abounds of questions it raises. It’s a fantastic mystery where every twist, every reveal, and each action is carefully planned for and set up masterfully.

There’s some absolutely solid camera work that went into setting the tone of each location and event, which is further backed by Masafumi Takada’s excellent background tracks. This becomes even more true and impactful if you decide to replay the game upon completion. It’s easy to notice upon close scrutiny that the team had a minimal number of sets to work with, as well as just how much detail was put into each scene.

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This lack of environments does come at a cost, as the plot-driven narrative leaves the characters feeling rather shallow compared to other works that the staff of Too Kyo has produced, such as AI: The Somnium Files, Punchline, Danganronpa or Root Double. I felt that some of the minor characters really should have had more screentime, or the player should have been given an extra choice or two to provide them with a bit more weight.

However, for the lead characters, I don’t think that would work, as their every action is so intrinsically tied into the story, it may have the opposite effect. It’s an odd feeling, but I ended up feeling more attached to the leads because of this. As it stands currently, though, Death Come True has some decently complex characters for what ultimately feels like a feature film.

The only thing I strongly dislike about the title is a plot-important text message and all of the bonus content; Behind-the-scenes clips and the like is left unsubtitled. The context can infer the contents of the text, but I shouldn’t have to do that, and the bonus content being left unsubtitled is just disappointing and leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I genuinely hope they update the game with some additional subtitles for these features, but it doesn’t ruin the experience by any measure.

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Death Come True is an experimental piece of media that tells an incredibly intricate tale, which is only enhanced by the way it chooses to tell its story. The game aims to bridge the gap between visual novels, games, and film so that fans of all three forms of media could enjoy it. The developers did their best with the budget they had access to, but sadly, that came at the cost at some elements being untranslated and a shortened runtime. Still, this is a great experience and well worth it for any adventure lover.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Pyre Kavanagh

Senior Editor - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so they can buy more murder mysteries. @PyreLoop on twitter