Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories

released on Nov 22, 2018

In the shadow of a massive earthquake, you must brave a destroyed city where your choices will determine who survives.

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Esse aqui ta no top 10 jogos nos quais eu realmemte queria q fossem bons, o jogo me proporcionou muitas risadas por ser um lixo, porém quando eu cheguei na parte dos prédios alagados eu só cansei, acabou a graça, pensar q estava deixando de jogar outras coisas mais bem feitas e mais divertidas apenas por risadas de um jg tosco, fez eu refletir um pouco. Acho a proposta super legal, e foi o que me fez testar ele, infelizmente esse jogo é ridículo de tosco, Tem histórias sem sentido tudo é tão ridículo e mau otimizado, até fiquei com vontade de jogar os anteriores até pq como eu disse, é uma proposta legal(imagina se fosse bem feito), porém o jogo me cansou, ver os prédios caindo era genuinamente satisfatório, porém é só isso, de resto tu tira umas risadas da história ruim, dos personagens idiotas e principalmente do gráficos, mas alguma hora a graça acaba e tu tem só um jogo merda sem graça

this is one of the most fun games ever made. its goofy as hell which makes it a good time to just be there for but it also has some real heart and genuine sentiment to it.

delightfully stupid, heart-meltingly earnest, and surprisingly brutal. its easy to ignore the jankiness and obvious flaws in the game when its so damn engaging charming and weird. i love shit like this. this is the kind of game people who are scared to death of sincerity could never make

fun in a way, cuz i love exploring, but hard to find stuff and to find the way through the history

Disaster Report 5 is a very memorable ride that makes up for its flaws in sheer entertainment value. Its the kind of game that makes me rethink if I should even be giving games numerical scores out of 10. Its kind of a mess? But a very fun mess, the kind that can only come about when a game attempts to be simultaneously silly, somber, challenging, funny, absurd, human and dramatic at the same time.
I am not familiar with the rest of the disaster report franchise but judging by the other reviews on the page it would seem this was a fairly big departure from the series which was up until then focused more on the schlock, action sequences and cartoonish supervillains than the relatively more toned down, more serious natural disaster and human drama of 4... er, I mean 5!
From what little I know, it seems that the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake kind of forced the change in the series (also the transition to HD that caused so much trouble for the japanese industry around 7th gen), a deeply traumatic event in the japanese collective psyche, I presume not addressing it or treating it lightly might have been very poorly received. Instead we have a very episodic series of vignettes and character moments threaded by adventure game inventory puzzles, light survival sims and moral choices; all of which tie back into the broader theme of natural disasters and their impact on people. Indeed one of MANY 4th wall breaks includes a random citizen in "not Shibuya" pointing to a poster for Disaster Report 4 and wondering something along the lines of "I wonder if this will affect the games' release", acknowledging the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake's effect on both the dev cycle of the game and the impact on its writing.
The game doesnt completely give up on its roots and this is kind of where my earlier point of the game being "kind of a mess" comes from. Its a hard thing to complain about, tonal shifts; cause even beyond the usual subjectivity of any criticism, it feels like they are more susceptible to a third person going "it didnt feel jarring/it worked for me" and the discussion cant really go anywhere from there. Personally its just hard to take the more melancholy gritty drama when so much of the game is really silly. I just get whiplash and honestly the number one emotion I have experienced playing this game is laughter and joy ; which I like, but it feels like the underlying message is being lost a bit.
Spoilers for the game generally from here on out
I absolutely love the dialogue options, even though I am a coward who never picked the evil options, just their presence alone has made me laugh more than almost any other game this year. Lines such as "before I inform you, will you give me money" or the contextually funny "I pray only for those who worship me" after becoming the leader of a cult or "I felt lonely upon realizing I cant meet her again in the sequel" after the tragic death of a character (though this one incidentally completely saps away any sadness I could have felt for this moment). Its also the fact that a big chunk of the game is collecting and wearing stupid outfits, which is cool but also deflates the seriousness whenever the game tries its hand at it, personally.
On the subject of morality, I genuinely don't know if the moral/inmoral points are supposed to be taken seriously or not or who is even deciding what they are. I won't be the first or last person to complain about quantifying morality as a variable in a game, but even accepting it, why do I get 100 good guy points for taking over as cult leader but 200 bad guy points for blowing up a ship full of human traffickers who are currently kidnapping me and others? At points the morality system makes sense in that good guy points are won by being selfless and helping out in a crisis situation whereas being a selfish, "every man for himself" type prick nets you bad guy points. The rest of the time however they feel arbitrary and in all honesty the story is going to railroad you into doing good and bad things regarless of your character if you were roleplaying as mother teresa or patrick bateman.
Much has been talked about the infamous "miracle water" episode wherein we trick a bunch of stand ins for the tendency in humans generally and presumably some japanese people specifically to devolve into in-group out-group xenophobia and prejudice in an emergency situation, into buying our magic water which is just regular plain water. Its pretty upsetting how that subplot ends and though I havent played the epilogue yet, I think Danny, the foreign exchange student who gets caught up in our scheme through no fault of his own gets beaten up by the mob dies? Im not too sure, it was kind of unclear. A nitpicky complaint I have also: why cant I use my money here? Were victimized by the xenophobic pricks at the school and have to beg them to share their food but I had 30 million yen? Surely even the biggest UKIP voter would have given us an onigiri for a 100k? I think the cult subplot bears mention, even if its kind of rushed and bizarre. Essentially you join an obvious cult preying on people's desesperation and vulnerability and get promoted to leader in about 15 minutes, before just as quickly being run off as a traitor (though not before making off with their money).
The actual gameplay for the most part is just basically fine, mostly "find the NPC to talk to" and trying not to get crushed or otherwise killed by debris from the quake aftershocks for the first few hours. I like the narrative and gameplay progression of there being fewer physical dangers as the days go by, you return to old areas which are now being repaired, generators being set up to light up darker areas etc. There's a real sense of time passing and the situation slowly returning to normal, in a sense. I like some of the cooler details like early on there is no power or running water anywhere but the CEO of a company has seemingly the only generator in the building powering a fan to keep them cool in their office. There is a bit of that whole point and click adventure bullshit with "You havent talked to person A yet, so person B hasn't materialized from the Ether yet" flag based causality which can get annoying. Similarly there is a tendency for game continuing cutscenes to not trigger unless you approach them in a specific direction or whatever which can get annoying, especially at first.
The character's generally are quite memorable even if they (not including the epilogue I havent played through yet) don't all have a resolution or their arc just sort of stops at some point. I like Danny, the phoney store manager is hilarious, Kanae etc. There is also one very jarring and sudden inclusion of violent SA which is admittedly not shown to the audience but is so jarring and seemingly quickly brushed aside as to cause actual whiplash. I think the issue of violence against women is definitely one worth exploring in media, especially by a piece which is trying to create some kind of broad representation of society and their various reactions to trauma and disasters, but this game is really not equipped to do so in this case and just feels very ill-advised and even exploitative, imo.
It ties into the broader trend of the game struggling to keep both its identity as a wacky unserious disaster schlock sim and an obligation to treat its subject matter more seriously.
That aside, I hope I havent created the impression that I dislike this game, because for all I can complain about its still a game I enjoyed more than most this year and has kept me hooked for its entire runtime, though it is admittedly an 8 hour game. Fitting for a game with the subtitle 'Summer Memories' I played it during the bits of free time I have had during a recent summer trip to a hot spring town, and I will remember both the trip and the game vividly for a long time.