Hands-onDisaster Report

We take a look at the North American version of Irem's unique take on the survival horror genre.

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We recently received a brief demo version of Irem's survival-horror-style action game Disaster Report. Unlike most games in the genre, which usually revolve around some sort of supernatural element, this game focuses solely on a massive earthquake that has a struck a major metropolitan area named Capital City. You assume the role of Keith Helm, who is riding a train across a bridge to the city when the earthquake strikes, causing the train to derail and flip over.

When the rumbling stops, Keith wakes up inside the train and must navigate his way out by climbing through the door that once connected the cars of the train. Outside, you can immediately see the sort of devastation that the earthquake has caused--huge portions of the bridge have fallen into the water below, pipes protrude from walkways, and cars can been seen teetering over ledges. After exploring the bridge, Keith will come across one of the few stairways to the upper level of the bridge that is still accessible, and at the top, you'll find a water spigot that Keith can drink water out of.

Water actually plays an important role in Disaster Report. Beneath Keith's health meter is a stamina bar that will either slowly drain over time or rapidly decrease when Keith runs or falls off a ledge and pulls himself back up. When the stamina bar is completely depleted, Keith can no longer run, his overall speed is greatly reduced, and his health starts to slowly drain. Fortunately, you can easily recharge this meter by finding spigots or sinks, which can also be used to fill bottles of water that Keith can carry in a backpack.

This backpack, which was dropped by a rescue helicopter, is found on top of a teetering car, and like many other objects in the environment, it responds to Keith's weight, so if he spends too much time on the car while attempting to retrieve the backpack, the car will fall off the bridge and take Keith with it. Later on, you'll have to retrieve another item hanging precariously over a platform that swings to the left or right, depending on where Keith is standing, and again, if you move too slowly, you're pretty much finished.

Indeed, the environments in Disaster Report are constantly changing. At any single moment, aftershocks can hit the area and cause some added destruction. For example, when Keith is exploring a restaurant on a cliff, an aftershock hits and almost makes the entire restaurant fall into the water below. The aftershock leaves the restaurant hanging at a precarious tilt, and while Keith can still move around inside, it's worth pointing out that he can easily slide out of the restaurant through the gaping hole in the back and plummet to his death, so you have to careful.

Eventually, Keith meets up with another survivor on the bridge, who he has to rescue from a dangling train. When he does save her, the two will continue to walk around together and attempt to get to the city safely. The structure of Disaster Report is quite similar to that of most other survival horror games, but the earthquake aspect of it adds an entirely new type of tension that the other games lack--one second, you might think you're safe on a platform or inside a building, only to see it start to collapse right in front of your eyes.

We'll have more on Disaster Report closer to its scheduled US release date in February.

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