It’s far from a disaster.
What They Say:
When a massive earthquake strikes your city, you find yourself at the epicenter of a chaotic and catastrophic crisis. It is up to you to rise above the calamity, collect your thoughts and fellow survivors, and outlast the disaster. Aftershocks, fire, falling buildings, and unstable ground are but a few of the threats you will face in these nightmarish circumstances. What will you do when every passing second and every snap decision could spell the difference between life and death?
Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is a weird game and my first entry into the series. Without going into too much detail, the earthquakes in Los Angeles last summer prompted me to become more interested in this game out of curiosity. I’m happy to say that it is a good game and one worth checking out, despite its problems.
For those of you who are new to the series like I am, Disaster Report 4 kicks off with you creating your own character (male or female) with some general customization features like hair style and color. Your character is voiced, for the most part, and has a character of their own with the title having generally great Japanese voiceover.
The cinematic start to Disaster Report 4 with the music and scenery is excellent and immediately had me hooked and interested. Decisions are a major part of Summer Memories as you navigate a post-earthquake scenario that has decimated everything around you.
It is a riveting and interesting premise that is unlike anything else I’ve ever played before. The only comparison I could make would be something like Telltale’s The Walking Dead as you explore and speak with other characters, however, Disaster Report is far more engaging and action-packed in its gameplay.
The gameplay in general has to do with exploring the destroyed city, talking to residents, learning about them, helping people solve their problems, and occasionally solving puzzles to further your own survival. While not quite as intensive in its survival aspects as other games, I had to be careful regardless.
You deal with several survival meters that you have to manage from your health bar to stress, hunger, thirst, and going to the bathroom. While this sounds like a whole lot to deal with, it wasn’t as crazy as I expected. Health is a major factor and the main reason behind why I hit game overs a couple of times, but the rest are mostly easy to manage.
Stress is one that is handled through visiting rest points that double as save points that are fairly common in most major areas that you visit while the others are handled with food, drinks, and going to the bathroom. Thankfully, none of these were a major hindrance in the game, only adding a slight element of challenge that was actually welcome.
Where the challenge really lies is in navigating the destructive and crazy environments that Disaster Report 4 throws at you along the way. You will find yourself dealing with frequent aftershocks where you have to hunker down and be careful as the single wrong movement can mean falling flat on your face or something falling on you.
Then there are the collapsed buildings and other structures that you have to traverse through that can be difficult to get through. This is furthered by puzzle sequences where you have to find certain items or go through a particular area in a specific way. This is where the frustration with the game can come into play.
There were two puzzle sections, in particular, that happen at major moments in the game and took a lot longer than other ones and were somewhat annoying. The later puzzle actually really annoyed me as there was a lot of backtracking and slow maneuvering through certain areas.
Thankfully, those annoying sections were few and far between during my time with the game, but they do exist. However, what Disaster Report 4 does excel at is its story and characters. There are a lot of people in the same situation as you and that you meet along the way.
They each have their own backstory and problems that you can help them with from reassuring the guy who missed out on a job opportunity to finding an important item for someone inside of a subway locker. These events have solid ramifications on the game’s story and what comes later with nearly every major character having some impact, even if minor.
In this way, it felt like a good anime version of The Walking Dead where characters continuously rotate in and out of the story. There are some really brilliant and memorable people in the roster from the group of high school girls you join up with at the beginning to the crazy fake manager taking advantage of the situation to make money.
Disaster Report 4 doesn’t hold back at all during the story and with its characters, and actually takes some surprising turns that were unexpected. While it doesn’t fully go all the way in certain regards, it does intriguing twists and the first half of the game, specifically, is really good.
That said, there are some major issues with Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories that could become a problem for some. For one, the graphics aren’t that great and feel like something that is from the past generation. That isn’t too much of a problem but its performance can be pretty bad at times.
The beginning starts off with hitching and painful frame rates, and this is common throughout the title. When I first visited an area, the performance would take a while to get going and it would struggle for a bit until then. In addition, every single cutscene that I encountered would pause the game to load it.
These performance problems weren’t nothing and really did stop Disaster Report 4 from being greater than it could have been. Even still, though, it is pretty good and worth checking out if you like story and characters. That said, part of me was constantly wishing this was an anime or live-action series the whole time.
Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is unlike anything else I’ve ever played before. A little bit of action-adventure mixed with Telltale-like story and conversation choices and some anime flair, exploring a destroyed city with despair, pain, suffering, and yet hope around was quite enjoyable.
However, the adventure is complicated with near-constant frame rate problems and lackluster graphics. That said, I still felt compelled to keep going no matter what and see its surprising and riveting story until the end. Though I still wish this was a TV series I could watch, I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who appreciates strong writing.
Publisher: NIS America
Age Rating: 13+
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Platform: Switch (reviewed), PS4, PC
This review was completed with a review code provided by the publisher.