The city never sleeps

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENT -

There’s a kid­nap­ping gone wrong, a mys­te­ri­ous crime syn­di­cate, a deadly virus, and, of course, a ded­i­ca­tion to re­cy­cling the right items in the cor­rect bins. 428: Shibuya Scram­ble fi­nally gets its English re­lease, ten years on from its Ja­panese de­but – it’s unique, and still one of the best vis­ual nov­els out there. 1

It be­gins with a ran­som hand-off, where the vic­tim’s twin sis­ter is hand­ing over a large sum of money for her re­turn at the crowded Shibuya cross­ing. You fol­low Shinya Kano, one of the de­tec­tives as­signed to the case. Things quickly go awry, and both the money and the sis­ter go miss­ing. As you hop be­tween a se­lec­tion of other char­ac­ters, the nar­ra­tive web be­comes in­creas­ingly com­plex.

Even though the plot is a roller­coaster ride of things con­stantly get­ting out of hand, it never feels too com­pli­cated. The writ­ing is witty, sharp, and easy to fol­low. Each hour block of the day is played sep­a­rately, and you have to switch char­ac­ters to fol­low their sto­ries, mak­ing choices and jump­ing be­tween them as they pass one an­other to make sure all their tales go smoothly. 2 It’s all very dy­namic, and even the bad end­ings feel like ones you’d want to see through rather than just an­noy­ances cut­ting scenes short.

As you can jump around the time­line eas­ily, the game never feels pun­ish­ing. If you’re cu­ri­ous about vis­ual nov­els, this is where to start. At times, this is one of the fun­ni­est games you’ll ever play as you fol­low these quirky char­ac­ters through this stress­ful day, but thanks to their hu­man­ity, the emo­tional mo­ments hit home all the harder. Os­car Tay­lor-Kent

FOOTNOTES1 Part FMV game, 428 uses real ac­tors and pho­tos of Ja­pan. 2 A choice in one route might not mat­ter for that char­ac­ter, but could have dis­as­trous con­se­quences for an­other.

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