Developer: Granzella Inc.
Publisher: NIS America, Inc.
Release Date April 7, 2020
Edited by AlexKnight2005
Natural disasters are one of mother nature’s more unpredictable events in human history, everything from tornados to hurricanes often at times becomes a story about survival and the will to the people who go through it. However, not many, if any games have been made to give a person that hands-on experience of going through such an event, at least to my knowledge until now. Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is an atmospheric survival adventure title developed by Granzella Inc, later released by NIS America Inc. This survival title puts the player in the shoes of a would-be by standard and while it has a few bumps along to soon to be broken road, it is a solid display for a more creative title.
Like the calm before the encroaching storm, Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories starts off very simple with a quick but effective storytelling experience to make for a deeper story. We, as the player, start as an unnamed male or female character, who after some basic questions about the player’s thought process and creation of their full character, is quickly tossed into the thick of things as the first of many bad things to come happens. From here on out, the story twist and changes based on how the player reacts to certain events and how the player acts in the game, with an outstanding focus on one thing, survival.
While I feel like the story told and how that story is told in Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is very unique to the series itself, it does stem with one flaw that while it is not glaring out at you throughout your time in the world, it can stick out like a sore thumb. You see, Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories uses your actions in certain instances to influence characters in the game to think better or worse of you, even if that action was a mistake. Because of this, I found several instances where I lost goodwill with people for something as simple as the game not allowing me to return borrowed clothes to a mannequin, even when no one saw me take the clothes off to try them on as a character suggest you can.
With your footing in tow, the gameplay of Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories follows closer to a survival game without the use of weapons and more use of the player’s wit. With there not being much technical “gameplay” to discuss, I will go ahead and talk about some of the games key features before jumping into this title. Progression through the story is our first point of interest as you do not progress just by finding a new area, you have to complete certain tasks like talking to other survivors. Some of these are optional and will add additional characters to later days, as well as change certain lines of dialog for some characters if you leave someone behind or help someone.
The other element I felt needed attention was the inventory system, which acts differently than most games. In Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories, you have one inventory system that multi-layered with smaller bags for various other items depending on the gender the player has decided for their player character. It is how you increase your inventory size that is the interesting part, with backpacks scattered around the world. As you travel, you find bigger backpacks that increase your inventory space by two each time, making decisions on what to take and leave behind an important part of the game mechanics.
Disregarding the technical lack of “gameplay” provided, the game does still has a few flaws in what it does provide for the player. The first flaw is the lack of a guidance system for the player, especially in a game like Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories. While once you get your footing and know to look around every nook and cranny, it does become easier but early on, I would spend fairly sized bits of time trying to find my next person to talk to and progress. The other flaw I found, while less noticeable, was the knockdown mechanic and the solution to avoiding it. Periodically, the player character would get knocked down and take damage at random times, leading to a discovery of a stance button that puts the player character closer to the ground. I just wish this was pointed out, as I felt like I was taking damage for no reason where it could have been avoided.
As if you were staring at the world falling apart around you, the visual presentation of Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories goes for a scope of realism in videogame form, from the people and how they act and/or react, as well as the world around them. Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories does something I feel sets this game apart from other games, shifting the focus to be more realistic in all things. The backgrounds stand out and come to life in a large 3D spectrum, with even the smallest of details like cracks on walkways, the damage mounting as buildings fall around the player and natural objects like trees swaying periodically like they were an actual breeze. The character models add to this concept, with as far as I know accurate looks to NPCs and limiting the player in how crazy their character can look to keep to this level of accuracy. You can occasionally run into a small visual bug or two, mostly this was stuff like eyes appearing darker in color than expected and some texture issues on buildings but they were so few and far between, I often forgot they existed.
Nature did not only take the wheel in the game but also on how the soundtrack and sound effects of Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories final product came out. While you do have a form of the soundtrack, mostly used in scenes when talking to an NPC or on the menu screen, most of the time it is subtle like the bell, gong, and sounds that would try to bring calm to the player. The rest of the time it is mother nature taking over and filling the track with leaves rustling in the wind, people chattering, and things that would be happening in realtime. The sound effects also add to this harmony of the world around you, with things as simple as buildings crumbling behind you adding to the scene without being overpowering. Add these two pieces of the puzzle together and what you get is a textbook example of how to set the mood in a game at any given point in time. The only thing I felt could take away from this experience was some of the voice actings, usually random blurbs from passers-by that while they sound fine, they can distract from the world around them.
As the world begins to reforge itself from mother nature’s strike, Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories stands out as a surreal and almost striking resemblance to its real-world counterpart, with a nature-themed soundtrack, the focus on more realistic visuals and genuine character reactions, with just a few shaky pieces here or there. The player-driven reaction story, focus on survival elements with what is on hand, the realistic visuals used throughout the game, and a soundtrack that allows nature to take the lead make for an experience that while not everyone’s cup of tea, is easily worth a look.
- A more player decision-oriented story
- The simple but effective character creation system
- A highly realistic visual style
- Added VR support through patching
- Lack of a guidance system for players in the game
- Sudden loss of control at random when entering some events
DarkLunarDude gives Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories a Drastik Measure of 8.0 out of 10.0 (80)
For the price of $59.99 on the Steam store, I can recommend Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories to those looking for a more unique survival game experience, with its focus on realism and player choice. The recently added VR support, in my opinion, adds to the more creative nature of the game.