Tokyo Dark: Remembrance
Detective Ito`s partner is missing, but what starts as a straightforward case soon spirals into a twisted nightmare that causes Ito to confront her past and question her own sanity.
Tokyo Dark places the narrative in your hands. Your decisions and actions change Detective Ito's state of mind, opening doors to different possibilities as you attempt to find your partner and understand the dark and horrifying world around you.
・The S.P.I.N (Sanity, Professionalism, Investigation, Neurosis) system keeps track of every decision you make, changing how other characters react and the actions available to you.
・A deliciously dark delve into the world beneath Tokyo, that will leave you questioning each and every decision.
・A branching narrative that delivers 13 exciting endings.
・The exploration, discovery and puzzle solving found in Point and Click Adventures married with narrative depth and intrigue of visual novels.
November 7th, 2019
Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, PC
A Kickstarter campaign funded Tokyo Dark‘s development, and it released on PC in 2017. The announcement that it would come to consoles was made in 2018 in the form of a director’s cut. Now titled Tokyo Dark: Remembrance, the adventure game comes to Switch and PS4 with new scenes and endings. With this release, I finally had the opportunity to dive into an experience that has been sitting on my Steam wishlist for the last few years.
Please note: The rating “T for Teen” is listed on the Nintendo eShop, though there is no official rating on the ESRB website.
Spiritual Content: There is mention of shrines and other things that relate to Japanese religions. Part of the story explores a cult with various false beliefs that involve an ancient mask that has some dark spiritual traits. Throughout the game, there is the talk of a place called “the dark” that players may have the option of entering.
Violence: Tokyo Dark includes many depictions of violence. The player character is presented with the option to take violent actions or kill someone in various scenes. Characters are punched, knocked out, and shot by a handgun. A few scenes depict one character holding a knife to the other’s neck. Decaying dead bodies with blood are shown in a handful of scenes. Suicide comes up with implications that a character hung themselves.
Language: The word “b**ch” appears in the dialogue.
Sexual Content: One character has a low cut top that reveals cleavage. One character, in particular, is known to prey on young girls; there is also a photo of that character bound in rope. In a later section, it is implied that one character was being forced to do heinous acts with businessmen and was abused for not complying.
Drugs/Alcohol Use: Throughout the game, there are various bars and hostess clubs that the player will enter. Drinks are offered, but the player is not required to take one. Smoking is also depicted in the game with a character holding a cigarette.
When I first saw Tokyo Dark, the anime art style caught my eye. Also intriguing to me is that this is no mere visual novel as it has traits of a classic adventure game. Those two factors have the potential to bring in a broader audience, and they are what kept me playing. Exploring the various locations throughout Tokyo to solve the overarching mystery is the main goal here. The culmination of these elements gives us the closest thing we have to an anime-style Telltale game.
The visual medium in which the story is told consists of character portraits and dialogue like a visual novel, though I walked Detective Ito on a 2-D plane that included hand-drawn environments and characters. Some of the big moments of the story also include light animation work that makes it seem like Tokyo Dark could be a licensed adaptation. The art style is appealing in such a way that even a casual anime fan might be drawn to it.
Produced by the frontman of the punk band Reign of Fury, the soundtrack creates an atmosphere that compliments the rest of the presentation. There are typical dark and brooding tracks, yet there are a few instances where it gets weird. One example is the odd track I heard inside a cat cafe with actual sounds of cats meowing that went along with the song. Parts of the game are a standard kind of creepy, but that one location took things to another level. The composer of the soundtrack has much more talent than what you might hear from his band.
Tokyo Dark tells the story of Ayami Ito as she goes looking for her missing partner. Much like a typical detective story, this leads to a much larger mystery. It can be slightly confusing at first, but learning more about the events that take place and the characters involved results in a big payoff. I could give a more extensive synopsis of the story, but players should experience the strangeness for themselves—the “Dark” in Tokyo Dark became literal as I explored the underbelly of the area and psychological horror themes along with it.
Like most adventure and visual novel games, Tokyo Dark prides itself in giving players choices and decisions. I was disappointed to find out that some were not optional while others were. In a few cases, I had to take specific actions where I felt alternate options could have been written. On the flip-side, some moments made me think there were no other options when there were. One particular example was when I was put on a timer; taking action would have lead to a character’s death, but I decided to let the timer run out—that character survived. I find the illusion of choice fascinating, but the lack of alternate options is a misstep.
The lack of options very well could have been the S.P.I.N. system at play. The system is influenced by actions but is also meant to affect the player’s choices in the future. The acronym stands for Sanity, Professionalism, Investigation, and Neurosis. I don’t think the system works entirely as it should; the game introduces ways you can keep your sanity and neurosis (stress) down, but leaves you unable to return to those things at will. The investigation meter went up as I dug deeper into the case, but can it go down? The professionalism category would go up and down as my actions continued to tip the scale between “good cop” and “bad cop.” Sanity decreased as I went further down the psychological rabbit hole, and likely wouldn’t have reduced so much if I made better choices during specific situations.
The controls are straightforward, as there is minimal action. Movement is done with the stick from left to right on a 2-D plane, while “A” is used to bring up the interaction interface. Cycling through points of interest is done with the shoulder buttons, while interactions are mapped to the direction buttons. I appreciate how well the controls are optimized for the console release, because a digital cursor would’ve been terrible.
Luckily, the story of Tokyo Dark kept me interested enough to the point that I’m considering another play-through. However, the middle section of the game nearly lost me as characters got the bright idea to have Ito be their errand girl before they would disclose the information she wanted. There was a moment in which I bypassed some of that, though it took a threat to do so. I breathed a sigh of relief as the story decided to pick itself back up before that filler overstayed its welcome.
Though I did enjoy the story, I was left with unanswered questions in the ending that I saw. There was a big choice I made during my quest to unravel the mystery that ended up being addressed, but I never received a definitive result. The one out of thirteen endings that I experienced seemed to completely ignore the decision I made that should’ve resulted in massive consequences. This oversight of a plot hole shows me that not every single choice a player makes plays into the larger narrative, and that’s disappointing—especially when the marketing on this version of the game promised to tie up loose ends that were left in the original.
Tokyo Dark: Remembrance includes extra scenes and endings that were not seen in the original. Since I have not played the original, I can’t say whether this is the definitive version of the game or speak to the changes and additions. However, Tokyo Dark: Remembrance is a game worth experiencing even with its shortcomings. The story cleverly unfolded as some characters became more important than the random NPC’s that I thought they were in the beginning. What the game did best was have me questioning my choices when I was done. I want to play through the story again to make things right and, hopefully, get better results for everyone involved—not just Detective Ito.
Review Copy generously provided by Stride PR.
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+ Visual presentation
- Possible loose ends
- SPIN system doesn't work as it should