PAX EAST 2020 | "Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories"
It’s been well over a decade since the Disaster Report series has had a new title, and thirteen years since it hit the US. So it was kind of a surprise to see a new installment be announced out of the blue last year, in the form of Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories. With a slight difference in tone, NIS America’s next chapter in the series is aiming to be a more down-to-earth affair rather than a crazy over-the-top experienced. From what I demoed at their booth at PAX East, it appears that that choice in tone seems to be the right one.
An earthquake hits the big city, as you arrive and aid fellow citizens with their troubles. The game takes a choose-your-own-path style with aiding, as you can decide how you’ll react to your situations. Will you be a kind person, an over-confident hero, a jerk, or even a slight pervert? The choice is yours, so long as you understand that it will affect the game’s end as the credits are about to roll.
During my time with Disaster Report 4, I found myself taking on many missions. From helping a teacher find her students and ringing up impatient customers, to doing something as simple as sitting down and hearing someone’s back story, how you embark on these little quests will depend on how much morality you’d like to earn by mission’s end. Be a do-gooder, and get rewarded greatly; act like an ass, and earn the scorn of those you’re aiding. But as this is a Disaster Report title, you can bet that danger will lurk around almost every corner.
Earthquakes will shake up your situation, causing streets to crack and buildings to collapse. When this occurs, you must act quickly and carefully, so as to not let any debris fall on top of you. Get hit too much, and risk certain death. It’s this aspect of the game where chaos can happen at almost any time that keep you on your toes, even as you attempt to de-stress yourself by looking at something pretty or serene.
What I like about Disaster Report 4 thus far is how it takes it storytelling elements from the Yakuza series. There’s a mixture of deep drama and goofy shenanigans, making it a fun and unpredictable affair as you roam the destroyed city to find your way to safety. Some of the choices in dialogue can also be entertaining, with your character sometimes going so far as to act like an anime-like protagonist depending on how you choose to respond. It made me crack many a smile when I witnessed this well-dressed man act like a bishonen character, a mentality pushed greatly thanks to my choice of giving him long green hair that flows through the wind like a Fabio-covered romance novel.
Disaster Report may have been forgotten by some, but its fourth installment may bring it back to the foreground of many gamers. Summer Memories is aiming to deliver a great dose of danger, fun, and self-reflection over how one would deal with the hazards of an unpredictable Mother Nature. We won’t have to wait too long to bear witness to such an experience, as Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories will be available on April 7th on PC, Nintendo Switch, and PS4!