Tokyo Dark – Review
Follow Genre: Point 'n click Adventure / Visual Novel
Developer: Cherrymochi
Publisher: Square Enix Collective
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Tokyo Dark – Review

Site Score
8.6
Good: Awesome story, Choices matter
Bad: Feels a bit linear at some points
User Score
8.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Tokyo Dark is an interesting combination of a point ‘n click adventure with a visual novel, in a great, neon-noir urban setting. The combination of visual novel and point ‘n click mechanics results in a game with a very interesting storyline, where you as a player can select conversation choices and actions which will affect how the story plays out. The game has been funded by a successful kickstarter campaign with several stretch goals unlocked, and has been developed by Cherrymochi and published by Square Enix Collective. 

tokyo dark logo

Story

You play as detective Ito, who investigates the disappearance of her partner. From the start, you’ll have several visions, featuring a red-haired girl. While investigating further, you learn that the flashbacks stem from previous trauma of detective Ito, where she has shot a girl. This girl, named Reina, seemed to have returned, and is strangely fascinated with the detective and with a mysterious mask. All encounters with Reina seem to end in tragedy, and soon the detective will discover herself wandering the streets of Tokyo, hunting visions and myths, while her life falls apart around her but her mind opens up for mysterious truths..

The story is pretty extensive and really interesting, taking several hours to play through for the first time. The storyline in the game spans centuries, and involves a lot of intriguing characters who seem to be involved in many different ways, which is a lot of fun to investigate further. While the story in itself is pretty linear, you’ll be presented with several options along your path, influencing your game later on. There are many different endings to explore, and many achievements which are connected to your choices during the entirety of the game, either good or bad. The story is very good; it will certainly lead you back to the game to experience more of it.

Tokyo Dark screen 1

Graphics

Tokyo Dark uses a beautiful combination between 2D and 3D graphics. Several elements in the game, like the character you play, are 3D models, but they move in a 2D, horizontal scrolling environment. The environments are beautiful and detailed, and represent the real-world locations they are based on pretty well. The whole game is in an anime style. The drawings are pretty and have a nice, dark atmosphere. There are several visual effects used for visions, flashbacks, talking to strange entities, madness, etc, and they are used very well, making you doubt whether it’s real or not, until the truth gets revealed. During the game several key moments have a colorful, screen-filling still image, in anime style. The characters all have a fitting portrait displaying their emotions during conversation.

The UI is pretty simple and straightforward. Interactable objects are clearly marked, and you’ll be able to select what you want to do with it. The controls are simple: you’ll walk around, and click through a lot of conversations. You don’t have an inventory screen, but you’ll be able to automatically use items at the places where they are intended. There is a stats screen you can watch at any time during your game, which is influenced by the choices you make.

Tokyo Dark screen 4

Steam gives a warning that this game contains sexual themes and gore. There’s no fan-service or anything like it in the game, but there are mentions of sexual abuse in the story. Next to that, you’ll encounter a few dead bodies during your playthrough, which are not censored. However, these are minor aspects of the game, and shouldn’t turn you away from experiencing this great title. Tokyo Dark is not all doom and gloom; to offset the dark and disturbing scenes, there are a myriad of cute and silly moments during the game, many of those involving adorable cats!

Sound

The background music fits the mood, and differs per location. The soundtrack is pretty good and sets the tone really well, but the songs are rather short and repeat often. The sound effects and effects in the music are often perfectly creepy and very atmospheric. There are two language settings, English and Japanese. The conversations are not narrated in the English version of the game, but some words are voiced (in Japanese) to set the mood: call-outs for surprise, greetings, shock, etc. This is adequate for conveying emotions, and since you’ll be reading a lot of text, it’s nice to be able to do this at your own reading speed. However, it might have added to the atmosphere if the conversations all got voice-overs, even so if the voice-over of the English one was Japanese with English text.

Tokyo Dark screen 2

Gameplay

Tokyo Dark is a combination of a point ‘n click adventure and a visual novel, a story with psychological horror elements. You need to gather clues by investigating objects and talking to people. The game is story rich, and there’s a lot of conversation to click through. You’ll have a lot of decisions to make during the game: will you threaten somebody to get answers, or appease them? Will you force a lock open to uncover clues, or will you investigate further? Will you accept a drink to learn more, or stay professional? Expect these choices to come back to you later, no matter how trivial they seemed to be at the time.

There’s a system called ‘SPIN’ which changes based on your choices. It displays your Sanity, Professionalism, Investigation, and Neurosis. You are supposed to have different options based on the stats in this system, so be careful what you do! It’s hard to make out what the exact effects of the stats are as you play, so generally it’s best to follow the story and make the choices you see fit for the situation. Sometimes it’s pretty hard to stay professional if you want to get all the clues possible from all the people you can talk to, it feels like you’re missing out if you’d just walk away whenever a police official should.

Tokyo Dark screen 3

When you start a new game, you’ll see the warming that you can’t save the game during your playthrough; but there is an autosave function which saves for you. This is actually a great idea of the makers of this game, so you as a player don’t have the options to go back on your choices after you’ve made them, if they didn’t play out however you wanted. This makes you think a lot about the consequences of everything you do, just like you’d do in real life.

Tokyo Dark takes place in Tokyo and its surroundings, all famous locations in Japan. After some time playing you’ll get to see a map with the locations you can visit, and you’ll unlock more locations as you uncover more of the mystery. However, most of the time you can’t choose freely; you can only select to go to the most obvious location at that point of the story. Despite that, you’ll do have a lot of choice in conversations, influencing where you can travel and when you’ll travel.

This game is mostly focused on playing through the rich story content, reading the conversations with the many interesting characters, and inner reflections of the protagonist. There are a few puzzles you’ll encounter, but these are pretty simple, and you’ll get hints if you don’t figure it out immediately, costing you some investigation points. Usually you”ll just need to follow the clues and the story to progress through the mystery.

At the end, you’ll get a LOT of options you can choose to resolve the story; the game offers 11 different endings! So if you play through the story once, you’ve still missed a lot of options. After your first playthrough, you’ll get a new option: New Game +, which does allow you to save your game, so you can get all the achievements, explore the consequences of all the different options, and unlock the many different endings.

Tokyo Dark screen 5

Conclusion

Tokyo Dark is a great game for people who love dark stories. The story is extensive, the characters are interesting, and it’s fun to see the consequences of your actions unfold as you play. There’s a lot of narration to read and click through, but since the story is very compelling, this should not be a problem for most players. Don’t expect much puzzles in this game, but do think about the choices you’ll make during conversations. If you are a fan of visual novels and exploring the many different ways this story can unfold using the point ‘n click mechanics, expect to keep coming back to this game to see more!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Tokyo Dark - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Anmaja
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

1 Comment

  1. […] Cherrymochi and mebius are happy to announce that Tokyo Dark -Remembrance- is as of today available on Nintendo Switch. Fully recreated in a new visual engine for the Nintendo Switch. The game will also become available on PlayStation 4 in the near future and was already available on PC through Steam. In Tokyo Dark -Remembrance- you take control of detective Ito Ayami who’s partner disappeared mysteriously together with other strange occurrences in the capital of Japan. Strange symbols and a mysterious masked figure have popped up all over its many districts. This will take you on a dark journey to the rotten underbelly of an otherwise clean modern city. You can find our review right here. […]

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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