Disaster Report 4
Your Actions Will Have Consequences, For Better Or Worse
The Disaster Report series is one of the many franchises that are “Japan-exclusive” yet have made its way outside of Japan under a different name, different characters, and various changes to make things “westernized” to audiences. This was the 2000s and during that time, Japanese developers felt that its player base would find such games “weird” or “unapproachable” if left in their original form without any changes whatsoever. The release of Disaster Report 4 shows times have changed as players get to experience games the way they were meant to be experienced and eliminating the whole “Westernized” approach anyway.
While it says Disaster Report 4, it’s the third game released in the US with the last one released under the title “Raw Danger!” Both the original and its sequel were released under the Agetec publisher synonymous with the infamous “$5 bargain bin” of PS2 games, so it’s understandable if most players passed upon an opportunity to play the series.
That said, you’re instantly thrust into the action of crisis as you play as an everyday salaryman/woman hopeful, on their way to a job interview, before a huge earthquake mucks everything up and you’re now forced to survive. Outside of the cinematic, including the option to customize your character and detail their backstory, you’re left to your own devices. Not the “open world” type of devices, but the “feeling like a caged animal with nothing but a pile of bandages and a first aid kit” kind of device.
Disaster Report 4 Isn’t Your Average Survival Adventure
At its core, it’s a survival adventure game, but your protagonist has nothing more but their wits armed about them. Said wits can get them in and out of jams as they interact with various NPCs, the majority of whom will decide your survival. An example of this is the opening stages of the game as you survive a bus crash, only to realize that you’re trapped in a plaza. You can’t leave the vicinity as a building will tumble, barring your path. You can’t go further down the road like a wall of fire blocks your path once more. Another direction will cause an entire avenue to raze and the avenue behind you will be obstructed by a street sign.
Players will need to explore every nook and cranny, interacting with the various NPCs who will ask them favors, and in turn, will assist them on their path. An example of this would be a high school teacher who asked me to look for their students. Moments later, said high school teacher and her students assisted me in pushing a truck that was catching on fire due to the surrounding gasoline, which would have trapped and almost killed us were it not for our teamwork. The whole ordeal also allowed me to open up another part of the city that was once inaccessible.
If You're Stuck, Chances Are You Hadn't Spoken To Everyone in Disaster Report 4
The game doesn’t hold your hand in any of this, however. In fact, in the instance where you meet the teacher, her students, and inevitably pushing the truck, you are given several dialogue options that would affect certain scenarios. Answering truthfully and honestly will grant you “moral points” while being dishonest and sleazy will grant you “immoral” points. If players want to be in good standings with the people they come across to ensure survival, they will need to mind their P’s and Q’s in how to approach others.
Of course, players can be outright villains if they so choose, as I was able to convince a group of bystanders that I carried “magical bandages” that would save lives, for the price of 10,000 yen. I may have lost my precious bandages, maybe, but hey I made an easy 10k yen out of it, suckers!
These actions which may or may not have consequence in the future shows how open-ended the game is. After all, your only task is to survive, the same as other people’s tasks. People can and will appear shady and it’s up to the player to be benevolent or cautious if possible, lest they, too, get treated like a sucker. Occasionally, mother nature will do its thing and cause earthquakes to happen, which will require the player to duck to avoid falling and taking unnecessary damage. Or, in my case, having an entire street lamp fall on top of me. Ouch.
A Low Budget Title Doesn’t Always Equal Laziness
It is worth noting for this First Look, that this is a ten-year-old game that was never released. The game was supposed to release in 2011, but due to the Tohoku earthquakes, it was delayed and eventually canceled. When the original developers created their new company, Granzella, they were able to resume development on the title after receiving the IP alongside R-Type Final 2.
The result, due to unfortunate circumstances, is a game that looks and feels like a PS3-era title polished to meet PS4 standards. That said, the gameplay, animations, and even the campy dialogue all feel dated, mainly because they are. It still holds up as it’s an honest game that doesn’t take itself seriously, except when it does.
Maybe one day I’ll take a better look into the game itself, as an hour simply isn’t enough to gather the grand scheme of things as far as the effects the natural disaster has on the city and its inhabitants. Consider me interested.
Disaster Report 4 is available on the PC, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4