Author Topic: The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story (Switch) Review  (Read 381 times)

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Offline thedobaga

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The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story (Switch) Review
« on: May 18, 2022, 03:45:53 PM »

The path of logic is clear

One of the most interesting resurrections of our current era is the return of the live action FMV game, from classic titles like Her Story, lesser known ventures like Late Shift, and less great examples like The Quiet Man. The newest contender in this space is Square Enix’s The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story, a game that is akin to a very, very long film with some gameplay elements thrown into the mix as well. Considering Square was the publisher of the aforementioned (and infamous) The Quiet Man, there was some worry on my part about this new in-house attempt at this type of game. Luckily, while I can’t say I can see it earning a spot in any hall of fame, The Centennial Case is overall an enjoyable experience for anybody that’s looking to solve a mystery or two.

In The Centennial Case, the story follows two main characters: Haruka Kagami, a mystery novel writer who has found modest success recently, and her scientific advisor and friend Eiji Shijima, a doctor and the estranged middle child of the wealthy Shijima family. When a 100-year-old skeleton is unearthed beneath the sakura tree on the Shijima estate, Eiji asks Haruka to return home with him in order to investigate its origins. This mystery points Haruka in the direction of several other mysteries from the past century, murders occurring in 1922 and 1972. Meanwhile even more mysteries begin to crop up in the modern day as Haruka finds herself engulfed in the history of the Shijima family and their mysterious tormenter, The Red Camellia.

A majority of The Centennial Case is not unlike watching a movie, with your main interaction being the occasional dialogue choice deciding how Haruka will respond. Sometimes there will also be a prompt on screen instructing the player to press X, which will add a clue to their “inventory,” which can be viewed at any time during the film sections on the bottom of the screen, providing a short list of clues and information on the characters involved. Eventually as the case enters its climax, the game moves on to the reasoning phase: a hex grid where the player must match clues and information to questions about the case in order to develop hypotheses. These hypotheses are only possibilities, most of them completely wrong, and based on the hypotheses the player must then solve the mystery and reveal the culprit to the rest of the cast.

There are a few issues with the game in general, not the least of which is that reasoning is made incredibly easy by symbols on the clues that can be matched up to the information they go with, cutting down on how much thought it actually requires to fill in each spot. If the player gets something wrong during the reveal phase, the only option they have is to go back to the reasoning phase (though thankfully without having to redo any of it). This requires a loading screen that is a tad too long before they can then exit the reasoning phase into another loading screen to put them right back at the section they messed up. A final issue is that while the game can be played with either Japanese or English audio, the English dub is questionable at best. This is understandable, as live action footage gives less flexibility with delivery timing and such, but none of it really clicks or feels natural at any point.

Overall, The Centennial Case is probably not going to knock anybody’s socks off, but it is at the very least an interesting mystery filled with enjoyable characters that is worth a few afternoons of an aspiring detective’s time. It may not be up to the standards of a big budget theatrical production, but the actors feel competent and the musical score adds an air of drama that makes it hard not to get sucked in at times. If you find yourself with a craving for a relatively simple set of mysteries to walk through and solve, this is likely a game to keep your eye on for a rainy day.