Sometimes gaming isn’t all about quick action, jumping between platforms, shooting things, or reaching the goal. Some games are made to be played at a much slower place akin to reading a book. This game is one of the latter types and is a hybrid of genres. Parascientific Escape: Gear Detective is part visual novel with very much a lot of reading to do and is also a logic and puzzle solving game. Coupled with beautifully crafted characters, entertaining dialogue, engrossing music, and challenging puzzles, this game is perfect when you want to sit back and relax with your Nintendo 3DS.
Parascientific Escape: Gear Detective is the sequel to Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the distant seas, where the player is required to find clues and solve puzzles to escape certain situation using PSI abilities.
The story follows Detective Kyosuke Ayana, who has the ability named chronokinesis which allows him to look back in time in a limited field of view, for up to five days back. Detective Ayana is hired to find a serial killer threatening the quiet neighborhood of Camellia Hills – but soon finds himself in much bigger trouble as he investigates the crime scenes.
The game mechanics of Gear Detective are very similar to its predecessor, however with the different abilities in the new game there are also different puzzles to solve.
Kyosuke holds the power of chronokinesis which allows him to take a glimpse backwards in time. You can select the exact time you would like to visit in increments of ten minutes which feels like a huge amount of choices, however the game does a good job of narrowing that down. Through the conversations and clues you will often be directed to a time frame that may prove helpful, though you won’t be pointed completely in the right direction.
Conversation is also a big part of the game. Not only in the lengthy story sequences, but also during the mission sequences as well. Though some of these sequences involve you being stuck in a room trying to figure out how to escape, you are usually also given a ‘talk’ option where you can chat with another character. This can be helpful to also point you in the right direction.
With a lot of the game being text based there is thankfully a way to look back at past dialogue. There is a handy option within the menu and on the touch screen which gives you all of the past text in character speech bubbles. This is especially handy if you’re not too clear on what was just said or who said it.
For the most part there are characters on the screen before you during story sequences. The speech box at the bottom of the screen displays the name of who is speaking next to the text, which can sometimes be unclear. This is primarily if you’re reading too fast and don’t notice the name, but also occurs because most of the names weren’t westernized. Japanese names can be confusing to us westerners. It’s nice however that characters not on the screen will have a little avatar next to the speech box when they do speak. I kind of wish this had been the case all along.
The characters in the story are nicely fleshed out and the story does a good job of bringing them to life. Through the conversations between the characters, the different portraits of each of the characters, as well as the changing expressions really bring personality to each of them. The developers and writers did a solid job in this, especially the English translation. While there were a very few translation hiccups they were limited.
The soundtrack of the game is also very well done and the music is pleasing to listen to. This is especially great considering much of the game is spent reading.
With the exception of the mission sequences which require use of the touch screen, the entire game can be played with either buttons or the touch screen. One thing that I have become accustomed to and really prefer is the ability to use the thumb on my left hand to tap the screen to advance dialogue instead of using a stylus with my right hand or pressing the buttons. This increases the feel that I am reading a book while reading Parascientific Escape: Gear Detective.
This visual novel game is pleasing to play. The characters are solid, the puzzles aren’t too challenging, and the game is an overall enjoyable experience. And for just $5.00 it’s definitely a solid pick.