I downloaded the Demo of Disaster Report 4 on a whim many months ago. Didn't play it until this week when I decided to free up space from my Switch's memory. I jumped into the game not knowing its plot or what the gameplay is like. I had no expectations for this Demo. It wasn't disappointing!
Disaster Report 4 is about people and how they deal when faced with a natural disaster. The plot starts with a strong earthquake in Kawase Prefecture, Japan. As the player was visiting a city there.
The main character is the definition of blank-slate. Your avatar can be a man or a woman. You have control over your appearance, and even your thoughts! (Only one voice per gender though...) With how many options and different motivations for a single action. Playing this Demo felt like answering a personality test.
I found the dialogue options interesting. While the choices are numerous, most of them lead to the same action or two. The motivation behind them differs. I like how many selfish choices there are to counter-balance the good guy options. Some of them are downright evil!
The first choice you get in the Demo is about giving the Grandma your seat. You'll give it to her either way but the choose is for your attitude. Did you do it because she needs it? Because your stop is next? Did you look around before giving it to her? Did you curse her in your mind while giving it to her?
Graphic-wise the game Disaster Report 4 is realistic but suffer from the uncanny valley problem. The animations feel stiff sometimes it's unnatural. Many people are standing around doing nothing in the Earthquake aftermath.
The gameplay is compromised of both exploration section and animated events. Both are standard for an Adventure game like this. There's a morality meter for the player's actions though it's doesn't seem to be impacted by the ambiguously moral choices.
Items are collected, used and or sold for profit. Some of the items appear on the main character's person when equipped. Disaster Report 4 succeeds in its player-expression goals.
Would've felt real if there was more running and random movements but I guess it would be hard to do that with a game engine... I also don't know how much of it is because of the Switch's weakness.
Speaking on Switch: The game performance is very bad on my Lite. The resolution suffers too sometimes. It's not a deal breaker for me. It's not a bad compromise for handheld gameplay but I'm just letting you know...
The characters you meet in Disaster Report 4, have their problems caused by the earthquake or made worse because of it. You have the options to help them. I many cases, all your choices will lead to the same outcome for their problems. (Like how you save the fashion designer Akemi no matter what you choice.) Like the grandma case above: The difference is in how you approach the situation and how the affected characters. This is a character-based morality system. I love when games do that.
The Demo ended suddenly, and I dare say "as soon as the good part started!" I helped a teacher find her students. Two of them are bullying the other one, and I told them off! Sadly, I was bullied into going through an unstable wreck, and the demo ended right there.
I didn't think that was the end of the Demo, so I played the ending scene twice. Before that, I sympathized with a broken unemployed old-man. Then scared some people into buying overpriced Bandages. (Didn't have the heart to increase the price again.)
What do you think?
As I was writing this, I looked up some stuff about Disaster Report 4, and I forgive the game's imperfects more now, knowing it was originally developed for PS3.
I won't get the full version of the game. My backlog is just too big. But I enjoyed the hour I spent on this Demo. It's charming! Disaster Report 4 is a rare example of a game that let you do good while your character is thinking of it as a bother, or even for evil reasons. I thank Granzella for the attempt!
- All images are screenshot of the game. (Switch Lite ver.) Taken by me!
- This article is crossposted here on Hive & on Read.cash.