Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories has quite the development history, despite being the 4th we have only seen 1 title in Europe titled Raw Danger; have we missed out or averted disaster?
If you have no idea what this title is about, Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories puts you in the shoes of a fully customizable character, male or female. You’re making your way into the big city for a reason you choose, naturally this is a game and it doesn’t quite go to plan. You get a notification on your phone about Earthquakes and then BAM! time to survive!.
From crawling out of the bus in the intro to diving from falling buildings, scavenging items and meeting the survivors, Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories does an amazing job in drawing you in and holding your interest. It’s a giant tale of secret labs, inner discovery, ancient gods and the like, no this is a more personal story about survival and human nature.
A very good example of the writing here is very early on in the story. You find a convenience store, after a little fetch questing you provide a faceless Male with toilet roll, he leaves the bath room and is quite obviously a jerk. Following that you are required to buy water for an injured man, following that a woman with a young baby requires some water, the Male tries to over charge her several times. Eventually this gets sorted out when the actual owner of the store arrives and puts this jerk in his place.
Throughout the story you make many, many choices, not only with dialogue choices but how you react and think in regards to what happens and who you meet, this really goes the extra mile to draw you into your character.
Naturally because this a Japanese title from roots to leaves this game also has some really quirky moments, similar in vein to titles like Deadly Premonition or the Yakuza series. This helps to balance out the heavier subjects and keeps you interested in just what will happen next.
Graphically Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is a strange little beast. It is a good enough looking game, character models are fairly detailed BUT it also spends a huge chunk of it’s time looking like a budget PS2 title. Buildings will crumble around you and look quite impressive, throwing up dust clouds and changing the scenery around you, all while murdering the frame rate.
The performance in Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories for the Nintendo Switch is borderline appalling. Janky is the kindest way to describe it, often it feels like the game is struggling with everything on screen and when a quake causes some real damage the game slows down to the speed of a PowerPoint presentation. The performance of the game never really improves between handheld and docked, nor is there really anything you can do to make it a smoother experience, at least here on the Nintendo Switch.
Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is fully dubbed in Japanese so no awkward English dub in this one. The use of sound in this title really works and almost gives off horror vibes as you hear buildings creek and fall apart as you try to survive this modern nightmare.
As Geoff recently tested the PlayStation 4 version, here is additional info: Almost everything about the Switch review applies to the Ps4 version as well, aside from the obvious – graphics & performance. The game doesn’t look too bad, still has some basic texture work in places as expected, but seems to make good use of the Unreal Engine feature set. Effects like fire & smoke look quite good, reflections can also look well done, with little to no impact on performance. Unlike the Switch release, performance here was very good with no hitches for me. That could be due to the Pro Boost mode, but given how solid it was overall I doubt the standard Ps4 release would fare much, if any, worse. Unfortunately we have been unable to test the VR mode at this time.
Gameplay in Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories will see you exploring, managing meters such as health, stress, hunger, thirst and now cleanliness which is managed with change of clothes and toileting. The main gameplay loop is fetch quests which eventually trigger the next area.
While exploring you have a “brace” button in which you need to use whenever an earthquake hits, make sure you’re in a safe area though because debris will fall and kill you. Outside of that there isn’t too much, the focus here is on the narrative and the situation rather than combat or traversal options.
You’ll find various backpacks which allow you to carry more items and match your outfit and you’ll even find real life safety tips from Japanese critical incidents, entertaining and educational!.
Along the way you’ll also control vehicles, meet survivors, climb around the place and come across some totally out of place subplots, beware the choices you make as some can lock you out of seeing them to fruition.
When it comes to if you will like Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories, the demo will tell you everything you need to know. This is a game that has no middle ground, you either embrace or loathe the jank. It’s unique scenario, obscure sense of humour tip toeing the line between serious and surreal and just how much freedom of choice the game throws at you either makes it an ideal time or a nightmare for you.
There is just so much to love about Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories that it was easy to look past its last gen skeleton and performance quirks. The story doesn’t go anywhere you expect it to and the writers had so much fun stretching your belief as to where the story ends up. I found myself playing a hero of sorts in my first playthrough but midway I was already thinking of the ways I could play it in a more negative role, extorting money and items, thinking only of #1, there is a lot of scope for how subsequent playthroughs can play out.
Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is an instant cult classic & it’s certainly a cult I am happy to be a part of!.