Yuma, an amnesiac detective, is a trainee for the World Detective Organization (WDO) who has recently been dispatched to Kanai Ward, a sequestered city where it mysteriously always rains. This town is currently under the reign of the Amaterasu Corporation, enacting control over the borders and wielding its own military police force, the Peacekeepers, to ensure a tight grip over the citizens. With the aid of your fellow detectives and ghostly death-god partner, you must seek the truth of the city no matter the cost.
As a detective, you’ll be working with various members of the Nocturnal Detective Agency (NDA) to uncover clues surrounding the crimes around the city, and the underlying mystery of Amaterasu. The most important partner you’ll encounter is Shinigami, a death god that Yumi has made a pact with. She is with you at all times, and serves the role of detective mentor as you progress through the game. In her own words, she is kind, teasing, needy, adorable and puffy, and is a hilarious partner to have around. Being a death god, she doesn’t have the same reactions as humans to corpses and other macabre scenes, and often pokes fun at Yumi for being a trainee. She reminds me a lot of Monokuma in that sense, but deep down she does actually care for Yumi, which really elevates her character beyond being simple comedic relief. She also brings along with her a unique power as well, but we will touch more on that later.
Many of the other characters in RAIN CODE are interesting in their own way, and come complete with their own quirks as well. There is Swank Catsonell for example, a prideful and condescending corporate fatcat who sports a golden blazer and pink tie. Or Yakou Furio, the chief of the NDA whom Shinigami nicknames Fuzz Head, who doesn’t have a forte of his own but his skills as a leader more than make up for it. There are dozens of these characters, complete with their own profiles and backgrounds, and feel interconnected between one another within the neon city. Interacting with detectives and citizens alike was a joy, and RAIN CODE manages to allow side characters to take the spotlight just as often as main characters.
This is a good thing because a lot of your time will be spent interfacing with various people, whether that be at crime scenes or on the city streets. When not immediately investigating an active crime, you’ll have time to explore the city and take on smaller requests. Each chapter introduces new areas of the city, and this provides an opportunity to roam through them if you so choose. You can also find small Shinigami figurines hidden around the town, which unlock small dialogue scenes between Yuma and his fellow detectives. These side quests aren’t anything to write home about, but they do give some breathing room between the tense investigation sequences, and I generally enjoyed the smaller moments to delve into Kanai Ward as a whole. Although things can’t stay peaceful forever, you are a detective after all, and it’s up to you to investigate and seek the truth.
The real meat and potatoes of RAIN CODE takes place during murder investigations. The investigation of a crime typically begins after a body is found, and you’ll have an opportunity to inspect the scene and gather clues. Oftentimes, you will also have another detective aiding you, and this allows you to take advantage of their forte. A forte is a special power honed by the WDO, that allows detectives to tap into other worldly connections to help solve crimes. This can manifest in various ways, like being able to recreate the crime scene as it was first discovered through post-cognition, or more simple powers like casting a memory onto an electrical device such as a phone. These are fun to discover as you play, so I won’t spoil any more detective fortes, but each one I interacted with was fascinating in their own way and added more depth to each investigation.
After collecting all the clues you can, it is then time to enter the Mystery Labyrinth to discover the truth of the case. Transported into this dimension through the power of Shinigami, Yuma is able to visualize the mystery in a physical form so that he can discover the true culprit. It is here where you wield the solution blade, a sword that can cut through deceptions by loading it with Solution Keys; clues from the investigation given form within the Labyrinth. This area is reminiscent of the trial sequences found within Danganronpa, where you are given opportunities to deduce the facts through various mini games.
The most common sequence within the Mystery Labyrinth is the Reasoning Death Match, where Yuma must face off against Mystery Phantoms, a manifestation of suspects in the real world who are interfering with the case. Not only will you have to dodge remarks from the Phantoms to avoid taking damage, but you’ll also need to select the correct Solution Key to slash through inconsistencies. This is an engaging way to interact with the clues of the case, and provides an opportunity for meaningful deductions that reward good judgment. This sequence also gets more intricate as the game progresses, introducing new mechanics like the ability to reflect statements back at phantoms to fray holes in their logic.
This is not the only sequence to be found within the Mystery Labyrinth that will aid in the discovery of the truth. Sometimes when encountering a roadblock in the case, Shinigami will aid Yuma by offering to lay it all out. This becomes the Shinigami Puzzle mini game, where you must figure out the missing word in a statement by selecting the correct letters on a spinning barrel. Solution Keys can be used here as well, although they instead serve as a hint tool, giving more information on what the missing word might be related to. This can be tough if you’re really struggling to discern what the missing clue could be, but typically after using a few keys the answer comes quite quickly.
There are a few smaller mini games that pop up every now and then, but typically an investigation in the Mystery Labyrinth will conclude with Yuma needing to accuse a culprit, culminating in a last stand. Here you will tear through any final arguments a Phantom may make, and ultimately use all of your clues to lay out the entire crime in a photo collage sequence. This is a great way to wrap up the case by providing the whole crime in summary, with the final piece of the puzzle being the true culprit’s soul being ultimately reaped by Shinigami.
The Mystery Labyrinth also plays a role outside of cases as well, through the use of skill tree unlocks. Anytime you perform an investigative action such as finding clues, speaking with people or even solving cases, you will earn Detective Points that increase your Detective Rank. These points can then be spent in the to unlock perks, which can assist you in each of the different sections of the Mystery Labyrinth. If you find it difficult in the Shinigami Puzzle Sequences, you can choose unlocks that remove false letters to make finding the right word easier. Alternatively, if you are getting hung up during the Reasoning Death Matches, you can gain upgrades that slow down the statements from the Phantom, or increase your own movement speed to dodge. This adds another layer to the investigation, and provides a great incentive to ensure I was doing as much investigative work as possible to increase my Detective Rank.
While investigating crimes and trotting through the neon-drenched streets of Kanai Ward was a lot of fun, there are a few drawbacks I experienced. From a quick glance alone, the visuals of this game are a bit out there, and most of the time this was part of the charm, although the parts that I didn’t find so charming were the perverted themes baked into parts of the game. A lot of it is comical and meant to be humorous, and I often did laugh during these intentionally awkward moments, but I think the game might have benefited from a few less cheesecake shots of Shinigami. Thankfully this wasn’t prevalent enough throughout a majority of the game to impact the story, but I did feel it was worth mentioning.
The biggest issue for me though was the complete desync between facial animations and voice lines. This comes from the fact that the lip flaps were recorded for Japanese audio, meaning if you play in that language there will be no issue at all. This is something that the devs acknowledged, and they have said that they are planning on addressing this issue a bit more for fans who wish to play with English audio.
From the get go, I had a lot of expectations for RAIN CODE. I’m a fan of the Danganronpa series for its detailed and elaborate crimes, along with the story beats that take twists and turns you could never see coming. I’m happy to say that this game exceeded those expectations, and is overflowing with ambition. The transition to 3D exploration feels well done, and the city itself is a treat to take in. RAIN CODE takes its time to properly set up its characters, the world, and the narrative in a way that makes you invested in the investigations themselves, and the suspense never loses steam. While there were some aspects of various cases that I could see coming, there was always something to throw me for a loop, whether that lie within the motive, means, or other aspect of the crime. This allowed for me to make solid deductions in my reasoning while still being entertained by new clues and discoveries throughout the entirety of the investigation. The engaging detective work combined with the overarching narrative of Kanai Ward’s ultimate secret made for an incredible successor to the Danganronpa series, and cements itself as one of the greats in terms of adventure detective games.
Corvo is a writer who loves to explore journalism through video games. Writing and editing reviews for triple-A games and indies alike, he finds his passion within expressing his experiences in a fair and accurate manner. Some of Corvo's favorite games are Destiny 2, Mass Effect, and Disco Elysium.
Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE
Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE manages to live up to its mystery adventure predecessor and establish a name of its own in the process. Removing the shroud of mystery around each case was intriguing, and made for some of the best twists that I couldn’t have seen coming. The wonderfully eccentric cast balances out the dark and gritty narrative in a way that manages to create a stellar adventure of investigation and seeking the truth at any cost.