Solve the mystery of the repeating murders.
Billed as an interactive crime novel, Again hangs on the balance between game and book, combining an FBI investigation story with puzzle-like gameplay elements.
On the book side, the text sequences are presented as conversations between characters. Photo-realistic recorded sequences are displayed for each person in turn as you read each part of the story from the various characters. This is one of the more peculiar aspects, with the actors against the modelled background artwork, and it adds a little personality to the presentation. It feels like going through an episode of a crime investigation series, complete with typical, crime scene background music used for suspense and twists. Music and sound effects both follow a simple, repetitive pattern.
While the visual aspects of the presentation go smoothly, the rest of the game does not. It is almost like you are being impeded as you make your way around to each location to talk a suspect or witness for information. Repetitive walking animations and dialogue intros can lead to no information gain if the locations are visited in the wrong order. Repeat searches can be required to find the next conversation that will advance the story. Little is offered in the way of hints and the only factor limiting your search is the number of locations available. It adds a tedious task to what amounts to reading a story.
Interspersed through the story are puzzle sections, where you use the touch screen in what amounts to a poor version of "spot the difference". The protagonist's power to see the past and present at the same time gives you the opportunity to recreate crime scenes from the past to establish the culprit of a current crime. It's an interesting concept but doesn't play out very well. These gameplay sections are dispersed inconsistently, and sometimes you'll be clicking through locations, reading for over an hour before an interactive section.
These parts use the DS book-style, and early on you are presented with the controls to navigate a crime scene. The D-pad is used with your non-dominant hand to walk around, while looking around and tapping with the stylus to interact with objects. This is slow and cumbersome due to the speed of movement and the direct view required to click on objects, and holding the DS in this way is even a little awkward.
There is no way to skip these sections, and you could be stuck for a while trying to find the clue that will show you the next part of the story. As there are just a few items to put into place, and no way of telling what parts of the crime scenes are interactive, it becomes somewhat of a pixel hunt to figure out what should be done.
Overall the puzzles are poorly designed as answers are either very obvious or too obscure. The story has some intriguing elements but is unsatisfying and also repetitive in nature. It's a struggle to find your way through some of the reading sections and puzzles due to the lack of indications provided.
Again is a combination of various things, from crime shows to adventure games, but it seemingly takes the bad parts of all of them. As it is, the game isn't up to scratch as either a book or a game, and combining the two has done it no favours.