Again: First Impressions

Tecmo shows off its murder-mystery game from the developers of Hotel Dusk.


At first glance, you might not suspect that Tecmo's murder-mystery game for the DS is from the same development team that produced the popular Hotel Dusk--the reason being that Again's visual style takes a much more realistic approach, featuring actual digitized actors as opposed to the stylized, traced look found in Hotel Dusk. But fans of that game will be happy to know that while Again may look different, it's seemingly every bit the in-depth murder mystery adventure game that Hotel Dusk was.

Who's Making This Game: Tecmo and Cing, creators of Hotel Dusk.

What The Game Looks Like: As previously mentioned, Again features an all digitized actor cast, so the people you see in cutscenes are, in fact, real actors. And the backgrounds are based on actual photography. However, when you visit a crime scene the game changes to a full 3D polygonal view, so you're free to look around the room for clues and solve puzzles that require the use of the stylus.

What There Is To Do: Again focuses on a main character named Jonathan Weaver (or J as he apparently likes to be called) whose parents were murdered 19 years ago as a part of several crimes that all happened back-to-back and had similar characteristics. Now a detective, J gets assigned to a series of cases that are also similar to the crimes that happened 19 years ago, and the key thing about these crime scenes is that the symbol of the Eye of Providence (as seen on the one-dollar bill) can be found at all of them. J eventually makes his way to the scenes of the original crimes, as suggested by his partner Kate, where he tries to piece together what happened in order to solve the recent spate of crimes.

This is where J's unique ability to see in the past comes into play. Upon entering the scene, you can find some items around the apartment by simply looking around and picking them up with the stylus--these items are then added to your inventory and can be used to learn more about the crime. But the key here is that J has to match what's happening in the apartment in the present (displayed on the right screen) with the way it looked in the past (displayed on the left screen). For example, you see a door that's shut in the present, but in the past vision, it's slightly open. Opening the door in the present, with a key you find in the apartment, triggers one of J's flashback sequences where he sees that a person was in the apartment or, more specifically, just inside the bathroom. Upon entering the bathroom, you walk toward the mirror and see that in the past the shower curtain was open whereas in the present it's closed. Opening the curtain starts another flashback sequence where J sees someone standing in the shower. When the sequence ends, he can then look inside the shower and see that there's some writing on the wall that leads him to the next clue.

What We Say: This past and present dynamic is an important part of the game and any small difference in details can lead to a new item or clue that will eventually help J solve the case. It's worth noting that not all of the puzzles are as simple as matching the two scenarios. In fact, one of the later puzzles requires J to move furniture around Tetris-style in order to progress. And while the visual style may be different, Again seems to present a natural and interesting progression from the Hotel Dusk formula. Look for more on Again before its release in early 2010.

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