With a disturbing narrative, a stylish 2D aesthetic, and a unique morality-like system, Tokyo Dark: Remembrance has all the hallmarks in place to offer gamers an intriguing twist on the point-and-click genre. It initially hit PCs back in 2017 but has now brought its grim mystery to the Nintendo Switch, along with some all-new scenes and additional endings for players to sink their teeth into.
Tokyo Dark: Remembrance puts you in the role of Detective Itō Ayami, who begins the game searching for her partner Tanaka who had gone missing during an investigation of his own. With seemingly supernatural forces tied to his disappearance and Ayami’s own sanity in doubt thanks to an event in her past, the search for Tanaka becomes more and more desperate and dangerous. Will Ayami be able to find him in time or will she succumb to her own insanity along the way?
It’s certainly a grim narrative, with the story never afraid to take plenty of disturbing twists and turns throughout the course of Ayami’s investigation. As a fan of horror though, this ticked plenty of boxes for me; I was constantly excited to see what I would uncover next in the story, whilst the colourful cast of characters made each encounter with an NPC all the more intriguing. Talking about NPCs, you can expect do a fair bit of reading in the game – whilst Tokyo Dark: Remembrance plays like a point-and-click adventure, it also takes a visual novel-like approach in its narrative.
Tokyo Dark: Remembrance’s gameplay sees you exploring an array of 2D side-scrolling environments, all whilst interacting with the many objects and items that are littered across them. Unlike most point-and-click titles, these objects are all clearly marked for you, so you don’t have to scour the environment closely or click everything around you in the hope of finding some hidden clue. Interestingly, some options won’t be made available until the game needs you to find them, which could be a bit of a pain – it means re-visiting some areas all over again and hoping you notice an option that wasn’t there the last time, which is a little difficult when you’re simply looking for a white square to interact with. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance definitely offers a more narrative-driven experience than anything else, which is worth bearing in mind if you were hoping to get a classic point-and-click style experience.
One of the more unique aspects of Tokyo Dark: Remembrance is found within its SPIN system. What’s SPIN, I hear you ask? Well, it’s your Sanity, Professionalism, Investigation, and Neurosis stats, each of which can be affected by the things you see and do in the game. See a dead body? Expect that Sanity stat to decrease. Are you thorough in examining objects? Investigation will grow. Do you spend too much time wandering the environment and talking to the same people over and over again? Expect your Neurosis to rise. These stats don’t just focus on the things you do in the game but also the way you play – it’s an interesting and clever mechanic that can easily encourage the player to react differently to the things they encounter across their investigation. The fact that your SPIN stats are made clear and not hidden in the game’s backend is clever too, especially since it gives you a better idea of Ayami’s mind-set throughout.
The most significant aspect of Tokyo Dark: Remembrance where SPIN plays a big role comes with the choices you make, with your actions often proving to be both beneficial and derivative to particular aspects of your stats. Some of these choices will genuinely test your resolve too, with Tokyo Dark: Remembrance treading a fine line as to where its boundaries are; sometimes it might just be a case of doing something out of bounds to get some information, or sometimes you just have to be clever in how you approach someone’s needs. These things will affect your SPIN stats in different ways, but ultimately they’re all a means to achieve your goals. Of course, I won’t detail the choices here as they play a heavy part in what makes the narrative so intriguing, but just know there’s a lot of freedom in place for the player to shape Tokyo Dark: Remembrance’s tale and how it’ll ultimately affect Ayami in the end. It’s a really neat system and one I enjoyed toying with during my multiple playthroughs.
There’s no going back on the choices you make though, with the game warning you at the start that it auto-saves immediately after you make a decision. There are over ten endings to find too (some of which are new to the console release of the game), so there are plenty of ways for the story to end based upon your choices and your SPIN stats. Fortunately, Tokyo Dark: Remembrance only clocks in at around four-hours to complete so it’s not a burden to play through again to see some of the other outcomes – it’s definitely a game that you’ll want to play AT LEAST twice, though I’m not far off seeing my fourth ending…
One area of Tokyo Dark: Remembrance that really delivers is its presentation, with both the visuals and the audio at a very high quality throughout. The anime-like appearance of the game world makes it feel unique to explore, whilst the cutscenes are all well produced and help add an extra cinematic touch to the experience. The game isn’t afraid to put some grim sights on show throughout either, so those who like a bit of horror will certainly be happy. The music is both haunting and calming at the same time too, with each piece managing to fit the scene of the game perfectly. It’s just a very good showing overall and it manages to look great on the Nintendo Switch in both the portable and docked modes.
Tokyo Dark: Remembrance offers plenty of dark and disturbing turns throughout its intriguing narrative, whilst the unique SPIN system that shapes the player’s experience adds a very clever twist to the experience too. It’s just a shame that the investigative elements aren’t better implemented, with them often playing second fiddle to the game’s more narrative-focused mechanics.
Still, with the stylish visuals and the gripping yet disturbing narrative, there’s definitely plenty to love about Tokyo Dark: Remembrance. Just know that if you’re hoping for a traditional point-and-click adventure, it MIGHT not be for you…
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC