As you can clearly see, Again on the Nintendo DS promotes itself as an “Interactive Crime Novel”. This isn’t entirely true. Perhaps a more accurate description would be “Somewhat Interactive Crime Novel” or “Interactive Crime Novel…Sort Of”.
I loved Hotel Dusk so I was more than ready to try out the next game from that team. Images made it look like a similar experience, so I was pretty psyched. I even went on a citywide search for this title and it’s eerily hard to find. Nobody had a listing in their system, or had even heard of the game. I would get funny looks if I asked about it. Hell when I finally found it at an Electronics Boutique, the employee had no idea it even existed.
Was it worth all that effort?
Well yes and no.
Let’s start with the positive, as that will probably take less time. The story in Again is actually quite good, if not a little generic. A serial killer from 19 years ago seems to be back and killing once again. That’s the general idea here. It’s nothing too fancy, but it’s solid enough that you will likely keep at it.
In fact the story is pretty much the sole reason you will keep going because the game surrounding it, well it isn’t even a game actually. The parts that actually require interaction are many times, few and far between. Often all you’re required to do is press the Move button to go a location, or press Talk to interact with a character. Aside from a few “spot the difference” style investigation sequences, there is very little interaction in this interactive crime novel.
My biggest complaint however is with the writing. I did say it was a pretty good story, and I stick by that, but that doesn’t excuse the excruciating amount of pointless exposition. Let me break down how a typical conversation in this game may go.
“I have to ask you something.”
“It’s a tough question.”
“Yes, it’s not easy.”
“You should ask it anyway.”
“I’m going to.”
“So what is your question?”
“My question is…..”
“What time is it?”
That’s only slightly exaggerated. See how much pointless shit we went through only to end up pretty much nowhere? That happens far too often in this game. Just ask what time it is and stop jerking me around! I’m not sure if it was done this way to artificially lengthen the game, but it makes some sequences a complete slog. Kind of funny though – after each line of dialogue there’s this sort of whip pan over to the other character. It’s this dramatic maneuver only to end up on a character who says “…”. So that’s good for a laugh.
The graphics in Again are just odd. All the characters are depicted by real people who are all making silly faces and posing. It’s solid evidence that it is entirely possible to overact in a video game without contributing any voice acting.
That’s really all I have to say about this one. If you’re in the mood for a pretty good crime novel, this is a good route as it’s far more book than game. Just get ready to struggle through lots of pointless dialogue and some pretty goofy character depictions. Or better yet, just go play Hotel Dusk because I bet you haven’t yet.