Title: Alternate Jake Hunter: DAEDALUS The Awakening of Golden Jazz
Publisher: Arc System Works
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: PEGI 16
Release Date: 23/05/19
Price: £32.39 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
That was one month ago today.
Someone has murdered Saburo’s grandfather, Kyosuke, while he was living in New York.
Saburo sets off to New York to sort through the belongings and memories his grandfather left behind.
The nostalgia of the cityscape and reunions with old friends is fleeting, however. He soon discovers that his grandfather’s last word was, ‘Daedalus.’
What does it mean?
Why was my grandfather killed?
“Remember, Saburo: tend the orchard of your mind.”
Kyosuke’s words and teachings on the art of thinking are just distant memories.
And yet, young Jinguji Saburo who is alone in the world, takes up the gauntlet for himself and for his late grandfather!
Alternate Jake Hunter: DAEDALUS The Awakening of Golden Jazz, is a mystery visual novel, where you play as Saburo Jinguji, who has returned to New York, where he spent his childhood summers, to pay his respects to his recently murdered grandfather, Private Detective Kyosuke Jinguchi. This leads to Saburo being sucked into a larger mystery which will put himself and others in danger. Will Saburo triumph in his investigative efforts, or will he be left feeling like he overlooked a key clue? Read on to find out in this Rapid Review.
The gameplay in AJH is standard mystery visual novel fair. The game is presented to you through a series of dialogue boxes and small conversation trees. In addition to this, you are also given the ability to look around the environment, albeit in a limited 360-degree rotation — no moving around the environment in this game. As you rotate around the environment, elements of the world that you can investigate will become highlighted, allowing you to take a closer look. Not all of the items will be relevant to your investigation, but it doesn’t hurt to have a look around. If you find yourself struggling, you can hit the Y button to more drastically highlight some things and draw your attention to previously unseen hints.
As you investigate the environments, you will gain information and clues to help you solve the mystery. Some of these clues will prompt you to speak with another character who may be able to provide some additional context and move your investigation along. These conversation prompts can generally be tackled in any order, and some may unlock more conversations. None of the conversations are overly long either, paired with being on the Switch, and this makes it an easy game to pick up and put down.
The investigation mechanic is what I would call functional. When you investigate an item, it will usually bring you in for a closer look, wherein you will use your cursor to highlight specific areas of the item to get more context. Sometimes these areas can be in the far reaches of the screen and covered by UI elements, so you may not think to search there.
Also, I encountered a few scenarios where items were mislabeled. Like a “bar counter” being labelled as a library “circulation desk”. It does not break the game in any way, but it does occasionally break immersion. As you collect evidence and start to build your case, you can enter what Saburo’s grandfather refers to as “the orchard of the mind.” Here your clues grow into barely comprehensible jumbles of words that only slightly relate to the clue you found. After the second act, I never found myself looking at this menu option.
Once you have compiled your case, you eventually confront your suspect and lay out your case, but walking through the details in order. If you present the wrong information, you will be prompted to choose again. Once you submit your case, in the specific order, the game would like you to, and you can move on to the next chapter.
Speaking of chapters, the game is broken up into several chapters which all feature their self-contained mystery. The plots of most of the chapters end up feeding into a larger narrative, which overall fell flat compared to other mystery games I’ve encountered. Things are relatively straightforward and easy to predict, with little to no twists or turns. A good mystery story often has red herrings and surprises. AJH has neither of those things. I was able to predict the solution to the mystery of who murdered Kyosuke Jinguchi by about halfway through the game.
Chapter One of the game is a flashback to a time when Saburo was at Summer camp, and one of their counsellors went missing. A 10-year-old Saburo, partnered with his friend’s Ben, Leo, and Abbie try to figure out where she has gone. This chapter ends up being the most successful and best executed, as it present red herrings and multiple solutions to the player. The game managers to build a sense of tension as it puts your friends in harm’s way. I felt invested in that group of characters early in the game, and then when the game pulled back to the present, they were mostly pushed to the side to be of little importance to the main story.
The game does create what I would consider being one likeable character after that first chapter, but you spend so little time with the other characters that it’s nigh impossible to gain an affinity for them. The game doesn’t take time to luxuriate in its characters or paint a rich complex story for the player to unfold. They reveal interesting backstories to characters but don’t explore them.
Audio & Visual
For a game that has “The Awakening of Golden Jazz” in the title, you would expect there to be a truly killer jazz soundtrack. You would be sorely disappointed by what this game has to offer. It’s repetitive, dull, and extremely limited. The songs also appeared to restart every time I travelled to a different location. But, on a positive note; the voice acting seems alright. It is in Japanese, and most of the lines are voice acted. It’s not needed, but it is a nice touch. Also, since the game has a real-world setting, you get much more natural speech patterns and voices, than you might in a more anime-influenced game/story.
The backgrounds often look like someone put a watercolour filter over a google-maps image of a street corner or apartment. But that isn’t necessarily bad. The visuals are very simple, which allows them to draw your attention to elements of the scene that are a little more distinct, by making them stand out from the rest of the environments. Characters are usually just still images that occasionally appear at different spots in the environment but sometimes will have a change of expression that is quite often unnerving. In a good way, usually.
A side note on localisation: There were some strange quirks to the game, such as an additional space after apostrophes, and some prompts being mislabeled, like a bar counter being labelled as a “circulation desk.”
As is the case with many visual novel games, there are several endings you can get based on choices you make at various points throughout the game. However, on your initial playthrough, you are limited to the game autosaving, so you will have to complete the game before you can go back and make new choices.
The game doesn’t give you a detailed timeline like some other visual novel games, that lets you jump to a specific moment in the story. Instead, it only enables you to jump to the start of one of the chapters so that you can make different choices. You then must play through the chapter again. There are a minimal number of choices that have a meaningful impact on the game, so it is odd that they do not give the ability to jump to a moment closer to the choices.
If they broke each chapter up into sections that may have made things less troublesome. Two different sub-endings have three or four sub-endings so that you will be fast forwarding through three of the chapters a few times.
I went into Alternate Jake Hunter: DAEDALUS The Awakening of Golden Jazz hoping for a fun mystery story and thought things were on track for a simple, if not enjoyable mystery romp. Instead, what the game turned out to be was a bit dull. Most of the twists and turns are heavily telegraphed, and if they aren’t, they feel confused and aren’t adequately explained. If you need some Japanese language listening practice, it is suitable for that, at least. Unfortunately, I have to recommend people pass on this, as there are plenty of other fantastic mystery games and visual novels out there, and this one offers nothing special.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Alternate Jake Hunter: DAEDALUS The Awakening of Golden Jazz from the Nintendo eShop at the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Alternate-Jake-Hunter-DAEDALUS-The-Awakening-of-Golden-Jazz-1563734.html