I love FMV in games, whether it’s a full-on FMV adventure game which has been fully filmed on-site or in front of a green screen, or if it’s an interactive cinematic adventure where I become the director and control the events which play out. So, when I saw that the creator of the Danganronpa Series, Kazutaka Kodaka, had created his own FMV cinematic adventure via his new studio, Too Kyo Games, I had to try it out. The concept and format seem perfect based on his previous titles, but did Death Come True turn out any good?
Unlike any other game I’ve played on the Switch, yet a common ‘feature’ in the Danganronpa series, all video and screen captures have been disabled within this title in order to avoid spoilers – well, slow them down as people with capture cards will easily work around this restriction. As such, the images posted in this review are ones which were provided to us from the publisher and I’m going to avoid talking about specifics within the game as I don’t want to ruin any aspect of the story outside of what’s on the store page.
So, let’s take a look at this two-three hour interactive movie and see if it lives up to the hype which I had once I heard of its existence…
As stated above, I have a lot to say about this game yet I don’t want to accidentally give away any major spoilers or plot-points. So, the below is the official ‘Storyline’ which is from the eShop listing:
In a hotel room, there is a man lying on the bed.
He wakes up to the piercing sound of the phone ringing.
Picking up the phone, he hears a message from the hotel concierge,
“If you have any trouble, please visit the front desk.”
He doesn’t even know why he is in the hotel.
In fact, he doesn’t remember anything at all.
As he begins to look around, he suddenly finds a woman tied up and unconscious.
The evening news on the TV shows the man himself, allegedly wanted as a serial killer.
Then comes the sound of knocking on the door.
The interactive experience follows the events which happen within this strange and mysterious hotel, searching for answers behind who you are and how you got there. This sounds like an easy premise but considering who the developer is, you just know that there are going to be twists and hurdles thrown into the narrative. The one thing you need to bear in mind at this point is that the format of Death Come True is very similar to games such as The Complex, The Shapeshifting Detective, and Dark Nights with Poe and Munro, it’s a linear movie-like experience with the occasional branching or narrative-changing option, it’s not an FMV Adventure game like The 7th Guest or Tex Murphy.
Death Come True has been adapted for both portable and TV play very nicely – due to the fact it’s out on PC in a few days and it came out on mobile devices at the same time as the Switch version, I wouldn’t expect anything less. The gameplay itself is simple, use your finger on the touchscreen or the Thumb Sticks to look around when the game wants your input into what to do next. Once you’ve picked an option you simply sit back and watch the scenes play out until the next choice pops up.
This is where the first issue rears its head, but it’s not an issue with the game itself – it’s an issue with the Switch and how it handles cutscenes and non-interactive videos. Basically, if you don’t touch any button for around ten minutes on the Switch, it’ll darken the screen as it’s trying to preserve power (even when it’s docked). Thanks to the majority of Death Come True involving you watching long scenes – some over 15-minutes – the game will occasionally dim on you. The solution is easy – wiggle the Right Thumbstick occasionally (as that has no purpose whilst the videos are playing), but it’s a mild annoyance due to the way the console works.
Speaking of the Thumbsticks though, this is the first FMV cinematic experience I’ve played where you can actively rewind and forward through the scenes in chunks. Sure, in The Complex you could ‘skip to the next choice’, thus removing all the actual video content if you wanted to get to a specific point, but I don’t recall being able to rewind the video as if it’s a DVD being played. I found this feature useful though as I often find myself getting distracted whilst I play these types of games, so being able to quickly rewind ten seconds allowed me to see if I missed anything.
The concept of the game
I don’t want to give away too much, but there are a lot of deaths in Death Come True (you don’t say). You get to direct the movie and choose what the protagonist does next, this sometimes leads to the next chapter and often it leads to your early demise. However, death isn’t the end as it’s actually a mandatory event which has to occur in order to move the story forward, rewarding you with a ‘Death Medal’ every time you get shot, stabbed, beaten to death, or any of the other fun ways to die.
Obtaining these medals unlocks bonus features for you to peruse within the ‘DeathTube’ section of the game – a behind-the-scenes of the game as well as full-screen footage of the TV shows which were playing within the game.
There is an issue with these though – they are all in Japanese with no subtitles. This means that unless you understand the language, unlocking the bonus features is almost pointless. I get that the BtS segments with the cast on location and talking quietly to each other may be hard to provide subtitles for, but the B-roll of the News Programme should really have been subtitled so we know what’s going on.
**The game has just been updated and now contains subtitles for all the bonus videos!**
As Death Come True is an interactive cinematic FMV experience, the gameplay isn’t the star of the show here, it’s all about the acting and the narrative of the story being told. This was the first Japanese FMV title I’ve played outside of some obscure PSVR titles I downloaded the other week, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Personally, I thought that the acting and performances fit the genre perfectly. There was a good mix of serious, silly, funny, and emotional moments within the three-hour experience.
There are a few scenes which only occur when you go down the ‘wrong’ paths, including some new characters which you’ll never see otherwise. I encountered these on my second playthrough and they are exactly what I love about FMV games – really cheesy and over-the-top. They’re almost the human personification of anime characters, which seems out of place in the game at first but once you’ve seen the game through to the end and then replayed it, it all makes sense – kinda.
In terms of the actors, I don’t personally know any of them but I did a little research…
• Kanata Hongō, who plays the protagonist, has been in a lot of films, TV shows (including a role in Danganronpa 3), and even played Makoto Naegi in the Danganronpa stage show (who knew that was a thing?!).
• Chiaki Kuriyama, the female you find in your room, is also a very famous Japanese TV and Movie star – she played ‘Gogo’ in Kill Bill: Vol 1 (HERE).
• Win Morisaki hasn’t done as much as the previous two but you may know him as ‘Daito’ from Ready Player One.
• Yūki Kaji, the quirky hotel concierge, has a very, very long list of anime and Video Games he’s starred in – one such title is the voice of Adol Christin in Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana.
• Chihiro Yamamoto plays a character you may not even see in your playthrough! She’s mainly known in Japan for her role in Ultraman Geed.
• Jiro Sato has been in more TV shows than the entire careers of everyone above! Nothing stands out for me, as an Englishman, other than he was the voice of Pumba in The Lion King (2019).
So, as you can see, the chosen actors all come with years of experience and a variety of roles – this helps Death Come True feel very professional and of high quality for the entire duration.
My personal grievances
The problem I had with the game, which was more a disappointment than an actual issue, was the lack of choice and narrative diversion. Now, I’ve played many games like this and I know that behind the scenes there are branching pathways all over the place due to what you’ve done previously, the choice you’re about to make, and what you can choose in the future due to whether or not you did something previously – it’s all very complicated. However, Death Come True felt very linear due to one simple mechanic – the checkpoint system.
Remember all those cool and fun deaths I talked about above? Well, when you hit one of these, one of two things happen; You’ll either progress in the story via the creative mechanic of the game, or you’ll see the death and then watch as the game rewinds back to the choice which led you to your death. It’s like a safety net which is always there to ensure you don’t ‘die’ unless the game wants you too – although collecting all of the medals will require you to replay the game and pick the opposite choices to encounter these ‘unwanted’ pathways.
Due to this mechanic, I was able to obtain every single medal, see both of the official endings, watch every single pathway and diversion, and fully complete the game in just two playthroughs. The game is deceptively linear and bounces you back onto the path if you’ve picked the ‘wrong’ option. That being said, I actually enjoyed the ‘wrong’ pathways more than the right ones as they are the ones where the crazy and unusual things happen. So, I’d highly recommend you play through the game at least twice, ensuring you pick the opposite choices you made in the second playthrough.
One thing I never even thought about until I plugged my Switch into my TV was ‘what’s the resolution of the video going to be like?’ A standard video game can flick the resolution based on where you’re playing as it doesn’t alter anything other than the settings which the game uses to render the assets, but you can’t do that with a video. Having both a 720p and 1080p set of videos would make the install size around twice as big as it needs to be. As such, I’m presuming the video files are 720p as the presentation was rather soft on my 4K TV, yet it looked fantastic on the 720p portable screen.
Don’t get me wrong, the videos look good and the production value is great (as it’s recorded footage), but I’d be tempted to say grab the Switch version for portable mode and possibly wait for the PC or PS4 version if you want higher quality on your TV/Monitor.
The game is entirely played out in Japanese with a variety of languages as subtitles (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish – Spain, Spanish – Latin America, Thai, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean). The quality of the acting, the special effects, the music, and the sound effects, were all of a high standard and made the experience very enjoyable and enticed me to play it all the way through multiple times.
Death Come True is an interesting interactive cinematic FMV experience which fans of the genre will love. Running at around three hours per-playthrough, it’s much longer than similar games whilst offering you a reason to replay the entire game in order to unlock the other pathways and the second ‘ending’ (as you can’t reload once you’ve made your choice). The acting is of a very high standard with customary moments of sheer madness and wacky interactions based upon the options you choose, once again enticing you to explore every option you’re given – even if some are there merely for show and don’t alter anything.
Overall, the game isn’t perfect due to it feeling far too linear and simplistic when placed alongside other interactive cinematic FMV experiences, but it gave me around six hours of entertainment and a number of ‘laugh out loud’ moments as I went against the point of the game and purposely tried to get myself killed at every chance. Thanks to the subtitles being added to the bonus features, I know what I’ll be watching later on today when I’ve got a few spare moments.
Death Come True£15.99
- - Lots of ways to get killed, some of them are quite funny
- - Branching pathways which lead to otherwise unseen footage
- - The game deletes the checkpoints once you pick an ending, thus enticing you to replay the game to see the alternative one
- - A list of great Japanese actors who play their parts perfectly
- - The bonus videos have now all been subtitled
- - The game is very linear and often 'undos' your choices if you've gone down the 'wrong' path
- - The video seems like it's 720p, making it look soft and 'fuzzy' on the TV when docked
- - I wish we had more options and actual narrative branches like in The Complex
- - You'll most likely see everything there is after two playthroughs