Review: Another Code: Recollection – My Nintendo News

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Even some of the most dedicated Nintendo fans may not have heard of Another Code: Two Memories (known as Trace Memory in North America). The point-and-click puzzle game was released in 2005 exclusively on the Nintendo DS, and its sequel, Another Code R: A Journey into Lost Memories, launched in 2009 for the Wii. Both games received moderately positive reception upon release, but the second title was only published in Japan and Europe. With the developer Cing filing for bankruptcy in 2010, it seemed as though the duology would become another forgotten chapter in the annals of gaming history, remembered fondly by those who had experienced them, but never a likely candidate for a remake or remaster on modern systems. So, the announcement of Another Code: Recollection during the September 2023 Nintendo Direct came as something of a surprise. Both titles in one package with fully remastered visuals, updated gameplay, and full English and Japanese voice acting seemed almost too good to be true. Is this sudden and unexpected resurrection of the series an experience you’ll always remember, or will it become nothing more than a lost memory itself?

Another Code: Recollection follows the story of Ashley Mizuki Robins, who lost both of her parents at a young age and has vague memories of that time in her life, leaving her with a lot of unanswered questions. In Two Memories, she travels to Blood Edward Island after receiving a letter from her father, who she had believed to be dead but was, in fact, very much alive and conducting research, which her mother was also involved in. Upon arrival, she must explore the mansion on the island to find him, and also help the ghost of a mysterious boy known only as “D” recover his memories. The second title, A Journey into Lost Memories, is set two years after the first, and follows Ashley as she travels to Lake Juliet for a camping trip, where she finds herself caught up in a series of events that may help to explain her mother’s death, and resolve some of the mysteries remaining from Two Memories.

Both games have been combined into one experience in Recollection, and you will need to play through Two Memories before you can play A Journey into Lost Memories. The games are nonetheless distinctly separated from one another, as upon completing the final chapter of the first game, you’ll be thrown into the first chapter of the second, complete with a title card to highlight this move from one game to the next. Even once you complete the second game, you are still only able to start again from the beginning of Two Memories from the menu screen, which could be potentially frustrating for fans who have already experienced the first game and are more interested in playing the sequel. The fact that no additional scenes or content has been included to more closely tie the two stories together to justify this decision makes it feel like an unnecessary restriction. 

Recollection blends scientific and supernatural elements for a unique and interesting narrative experience that pulls the player along at an unhurried pace. It takes the time to explore Ashley’s thoughts and feelings about her current circumstances, and lingers on her interaction with the characters she meets along the way. While most of these characters are lacking in depth, they each further Ashley’s development, and make her a more interesting and rounded character. This level of focus makes Ashley’s journey feel like a more heartfelt and personal experience, but also means that other story elements can feel rushed and lack detail, as very little time is spent exploring them. Many characters are almost written out of the story entirely as the attention shifts away from them, and for better or worse, Recollection is Ashley’s story, and is told from her limited perspective of events. 

Your enjoyment of the story in both titles will depend almost entirely on your ability to connect with Ashley, although it’s easy to get a sense of the kind of person that she is and how events affect her. Those looking for a high stakes and emotionally charged story won’t find this in either title, as Recollection opts for a more sombre and reflective approach with its more emotional moments, saving its dramatic confrontations and plot twists for the final chapter of each game. This slow pace and greater focus on more mundane character interactions may not appeal to those who are drawn in by the science fiction elements of the memory-based ANOTHER technology, or the supernatural presence of D in Two Memories.

Although the games are primarily narrative driven experiences, there are some more interactive gameplay elements present in both, which have been altered from the point and click gameplay of the originals to be more freeform and encourage exploration. Outside of dialogue and cutscenes, your time in Recollection will be spent freely roaming the environment, either looking for the next character to interact with to advance the story, or for clues to solve puzzles. Your main tool for the job in both games is the DAS, an electronic tablet shaped suspiciously like a Switch, which has a camera function, stores detailed information on each character and their relationships like an in-game glossary, and interacts with the environment in other situational ways, such as unlocking doors. 

In both games you can also find optional memories that provide additional background information on the world and its characters; this isn’t required reading, but serves as a nice collectible for players who take the time to more thoroughly explore their surroundings. Those more interested in progressing through the story as quickly as possible can utilise the Navigation Assist feature, which brings up a compass and objective markers to point them in the right direction, making the experience feel streamlined and preventing potential frustration at needing to search every nook and cranny. Both titles provide some general guidance on how to progress, but will leave it to the player to explore their surroundings to discover what to do next for themselves.

The approach taken to puzzles between the two titles is quite different, with Two Memories often requiring the use of the DAS’ camera function to photograph visual clues to find solutions to puzzles, and A Journey into Lost Memories utilising more button input minigames and the player’s ability to problem-solve with written clues rather than visual images. Puzzle Hints, a setting in the Options menu, allows you to bring up a hint, a detailed hint, and then finally the answer to the puzzle, at any time. This means that those more interested in the story or that find these elements of the gameplay more challenging can get through them more quickly. But in both titles, some of these puzzles require the use of motion controls, and it’s unfortunate that no alternative controls were provided; in Journey into Lost Memories in particular, these elements can be very imprecise to the point of frustration, and there is no option to skip past them. 

Although Recollection makes exploration easy with its Navigation Assist and Puzzle Hints features, traversal can be needlessly difficult thanks to its awkward controls and camera angles. Both games feature an over-the-shoulder camera which the player has limited control over, and this can be quite frustrating at times. By default it sits a little too close to Ashley to get a good view of your surroundings, and often zooms in automatically in confined spaces, making the experience uncomfortably claustrophobic and difficult to navigate. This is especially problematic when you need to search the environment for clues, particularly in Two Memories where your surroundings are mostly narrow corridors and small rooms. You can control the camera to a degree (although the default sensitivity is set quite low, and you may wish to adjust it for a smoother experience before doing anything else) but unfortunately you cannot pull it back from Ashley to get a better view. Although the control scheme here is more freeform than either of the original titles, it frequently impedes exploration and feels like the product of an ageing game design despite being a new feature, and it’s disappointing that more wasn’t done here to make traversal a more enjoyable experience.

As you might expect, Recollection gives both Two Memories and A Journey into Lost Memories a significant visual overhaul, with new fully 3D interactive environments and cel-shaded character models to complement the more hands-on gameplay. Despite this overhaul, the environments in both games are lacking in detail and feel slightly dated as a result. There is an excellent use of lighting effects in Two Memories in particular, but there is a notable lack of texture that makes them quite unappealing and bland from close-up. The cel-shaded character models, although they display awkwardly exaggerated animation at times, are far more appealing visually, and perfectly capture the art style from the original games. Most cutscenes are presented in an appealing comic book style that feels particularly immersive and complements the visual style perfectly, drawing attention away from the lack of detail in the environment to focus on the more detailed character models. Both games run smoothly on Switch, with no jarring drops in framerate or long loading times, and at no point did I experience any slowdown or crashes while playing.

Recollection features full English and Japanese voice acting, which gives many scenes an added layer of emotional depth that fans of the originals and newcomers alike will appreciate, with dual audio being a welcome bonus to cater to all preferences. Whilst the English voice acting is of a generally good quality, with Ashley being a noteworthy highlight, lines from other characters are sometimes delivered in a flat monotone, leading to some awkward dialogue that detracts from some scenes that should carry more emotional weight. When combined with the quiet, often non-existent background music, the game has an atmosphere that ranges from suitably quiet reflection when exploring, to stilted and uncomfortable silence, and makes the more animated scenes towards the end of A Journey into Lost Memories in particular feel more comical than tense.

Recollection will take upwards of 15 hours to complete, depending upon how much you choose to utilise the Navigation Assist and Puzzle Assist features, and whether you choose to look for the optional memories. There is unfortunately no skip function, and there is often a notable pause of a few seconds between lines when left on autoplay, which makes the feature feel a little slow at times. Despite having an extra chapter, A Journey into Lost Memories is roughly the same length as Two Memories, and the short runtime of both titles makes the conclusion feel slightly rushed, and the chapters often end at seemingly random points in the story. Completing the game unlocks Ashley’s original outfit for subsequent playthroughs, although as previously mentioned, you will unfortunately need to start again from the very beginning, with no option to jump to the second game if that would be your preference.

Another Code: Recollection does a good job at bringing the duology to the Switch, and there is an excellent level of consistency in the quality of the two titles, with the updated visuals and gameplay providing a cohesive experience. The additional voice acting breathes new life into the story which, although it may be too slowly paced for some, is nonetheless emotional and heartfelt. However, the decision to combine both games into a single narrative experience seems counterproductive when there is a clear transition between them, and the quality of life changes made don’t quite do enough to disguise the ageing gameplay mechanics. These weaker elements, such as the awkward camera angles and mandatory motion controls, often offset the enjoyment to be gained from the narrative, making this an experience that won’t appeal to everyone. Another Code: Recollection is an experience players will definitely remember, but this may not always be for the right reasons.

6/10

A copy of Another Code: Recollection was provided by Nintendo UK for the purposes of this review

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Article source https://mynintendonews.com/2024/01/18/review-another-code-recollection/

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