Reading A Game –
Besides having a really long name, Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the Distant Seas is a 3DS eShop download that isn’t for everybody.
Ported and translated from its Asian origins, this interactive visual novel is basically like reading a book with some light Professor Layton-like puzzles sprinkled in from time to time. The story revolves around a 16 year old girl who wakes up on a ship with a broken memory and happens to have strange psychic powers. Although rather wordy, the story is the main focus but moves at a tedious pace.
When the dialog segments end, the player is usually free to use the touch screen to tap items in the environment to eventually solve puzzles. Tapping an item usually generates a “look” command in which more information is gathered. Eventually, certain items can be collected into an inventory screen for later use. For example, an early puzzle has the player trying to power up a certain item. To solve this issue, the player must tap on the lost TV remote control under the table, examine it, and then take the batteries out to power the other device. Most puzzles are not too difficult to solve and there is a hint system available but it mostly opens a dialog box that suggests what the answer could be.
The main gimmick behind the storytelling comes from the use of the main character’s psychic powers: clairvoyance and telekinesis. Clairvoyance is used by tapping the bottom screen during specific puzzle segments to reveal parts of the screen that are otherwise shrouded in darkness. However, the player only has a certain number of taps available. Once parts of the screen are visible, objects can be moved using telekinesis. Rotating and moving pieces around locks and bends is usually the name of the game to power a circuit board or to gather an item through a lock or wall. Unfortunately, the player must use a “if at first you don’t succeed, try again” mentality with most puzzles throughout the adventure. It is a bit frustrating and patience is required as puzzles are rarely, if ever, solved on the first attempt.
And speaking of patience, the text scrolls at a slow pace each and every dialog window instead of just popping up all at once. The words simply do not appear fast enough so I found myself rapidly tapping the face buttons just to make the text flow faster and then transition to the next dialog box. This drastically slows the pace of an already slow paced narrative especially since there is so much wordage to read through. Further, it is not difficult to tell this game was translated and put together by a small team as there are typos and poorly worded text more often than should be allowed. I think even the name of this game is mistranslated. Instead of Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the Distant Seas, I think Parascientific Escape: Cruise ON the Distant Seas makes a little more sense.
If you are a Kindle or eBook reader, you will probably enjoy this low cost 3DS eShop download as the puzzle elements are really more of a distraction as opposed to the main form of gameplay. But visual novels are not for everyone and if you fall under this category you will be better off playing other Circle Entertainment titles instead.
Not As Good As: Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel (PSP)
Better Than: just reading plain text in a book
Wait For It: Witch and Hero 2
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com