Friday, April 10, 2015

The ProLogue to Death Note review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

L, the ProLogue to Death Note was one of the games I bought last month because they were cheap. This one was 500 yen ($4 USD). It came out in 2008 from Konami, and is a prequel to the rest of the Death Note series. The idea is to introduce a little more background for L, prior to his meeting with Kira. If you're not familiar with Death Note, the basic concept is that Shinigami (death gods) have notebooks (Death Notes) that they write their victim's names in. If they specify the time and method of death, then that's what happens, if it's reasonable. Otherwise, the victim just suffers from a heart attack. One of the shinigami drops his notebook by accident, and it's discovered by Light Yagami, a very intelligent kid and the son of the head of the Tokyo Police Department. When you touch the book, you get the ability to see and talk with the shinigami. Light starts out as a vigilante, writing in the names of various criminals that the law can't touch, operating under the name "Kira", but eventually he becomes the focus of investigation himself, and he adds the police to his list of names in the death note just to keep his identity hidden. One of the investigators chasing after him is the brilliant but eccentric "L", who sacrifices his own life to prove that Light is "Kira".

(L, working from a distance from his secret lair.)

In ProLogue, you play a rookie FBI agent (you can choose a male or female character) who runs afoul of a trap in a warehouse and wakes up in what seems like an abandoned hotel. You're connected to L through a wireless communicator, which has a video camera that L uses to help you through the game. This is about where ALL of the online gaming sites end their descriptions of the game. There's no walkthroughs in English, and I haven't found much of anything in Japanese, either. While ProLogue had received decent critical reviews, few people seem to have actually played it. Since I just bought it because it's cheap, I'm not particularly interested in spending a lot of time on it at the moment. But I will talk about the gameplay a little more than anyone else has.

(A typical screen display.)

The game setting is something that looks like an abandoned hotel. You see each room or hallway, and you position the cursor (or use the touch pad and stylus) over different objects to investigate them, such as a TV, a couch, a desk, or a bed. If you find something along the lines of a screwdriver, scissors or healing potions, it's added to your inventory. L sees everything you do, and when he deems that you've checked enough of the room, you're given permission to leave and proceed to the next area. Just about everything is boobytrapped, and when you try to leave, you find yourself face to face with a bomb, and this is when the items you find become handy. The bomb sequences are timed, and everything you examine causes the timer to click down faster. Examining key parts, and using your inventory on the right part of the bomb improves your "success percentage". When you decide to take the risk, the next screen has a bouncing cursor cycling across the "results bar", with your "success percentage" area being within the "results bar". This is a reflex challenge game, and when you press the "A" button to disarm the button, if the cursor stops within your "success percentage" section, you win. Otherwise the bomb goes off and you take damage. Obviously, finding every item in the room, and then using them on the bomb to improve your chances is a good thing if your own physical reflexes are a bit slow.

(One of the bombs you have to disarm.)

I only spent a couple hours on the game, and just completed a couple rooms and part of the first hallway. The concept for the game is interesting, but this isn't something that I really like to play. I'm keeping the game as part of my collection, and I may come back to it when I have more time. At the moment though, I just wanted to run the write-up on my blog to describe what I bought. ProLogue may not really appeal to fans of the Death Note light novel or the manga, but if you like police action stories you may enjoy this game. The artwork is good, but I didn't spend a lot of time listening to the voices or music. On a side note, "L" loves candy, and you occasionally locate recipes for sweets as you work through the game. If you feed "L" things he likes, you get certain perks along the way.

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