After the ending of Danganronpa v3, I’ve always hoped that anyone could deliver a “Danganronpa-esque” inspired adventure, hopefully, with their own twists and gameplay systems. With the reveal of Process of Elimination, my mind instantly wondered: Could Nippon Ichi pull this off? After playing the recent demo, I better understood this mystery adventure and what inspiration it takes from other titles.
In Process of Elimination, you are greeted by a distorted voice that calls itself the Quartering Duke. This serial killer always leaves two victims behind for the “sake of entertainment.” The protagonist, Wato Hojo, enrolls as a rookie detective in the Gunjoji Detective Agency to help thwart their plans. While investigating the case of an animal abuser, he comes across an older man who introduces himself as the Senior Detective of the Detective Alliance. He says he has been scouted to join the Alliance, a dream come true for our protag.
The opening cinematic provides a nice dose of nostalgia for several other mystery novels I’ve played in the past, making it tough not to draw similarities to them, especially Danganronpa. For this preview, I have played through Chapter 1 twice on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. In either version, I found no issues whatsoever. Still, if I were to pick one, I would probably go for the Switch, as the visual novel flavor of this title feels right when considering portability, especially since you’ll be paging through lines and lines of text for the majority of the time.
The interactions between the characters in these early moments felt like they were just scratching the surface of how complex their personalities might become. Still, you understand some key points about their traits, such as Techie’s knack for inventions and Doleful’s “danger magnet.” The Profiles option on the main menu also explains their rank in the Alliance and their most notable case. During interactions, it’s easy to stay engaged, thanks to the presentation. Each character is expressive through 2D animations, with various sprites and transitions.
Investigation systems are also touched on in the demo, which opens up around 70% of the way through. The Ideal Detective will walk you through how to investigate several spots around the scene by commanding each of the detectives to do different actions, such as analyzing certain spots and examining suspicious areas, to solve the case before time runs out.
Each Detective has different stats, and you must prepare for anything, as there will be times when detectives will move independently, whether you like it or not. The first case is pretty easy to get a 100% ranking, but I can imagine that the subsequent scenes will be rather tricky and require some precise strategy to obtain a high rating.
While the demo is just scratching the surface of the iceberg, the ideas that Process of Elimination brings to the table feel unique in a familiar space for me. The setting resembles the constant tension of Danganronpa, but the characters and adventure elements make it feel like a completely new experience. Further, the added layer of strategy gives the gameplay portions more depth, as I feel like I have more control over the flow of the investigation.
The cliffhanger ending on the demo has me excited to unravel more of this narrative when the full version releases on April 11, 2023, for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
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