Jisei – What We Think
Jisei is a visually stunning and well-written (albeit brief) interactive tale of mystery.
I’ll Have a Mocha Stabaccino
Life is hard enough for a teenage boy without being plagued by visions of how people have died. In Jisei, you play as just such a youth, unfortunate enough to have stumbled upon a dead body in the restroom of the coffee shop you’re sitting in. Instinctively, you touch the arm of the victim, hoping to catch a glimpse of what led to her fate.
Before you can glean anything useful, someone notices you near the body, and panic ensues. An off-duty detective happens by, and after convincing him that you’ve only discovered the corpse (as opposed to taking part in the corpsification), he locks the place down until the police can arrive. You offer to help the detective interrogate the three suspects in the shop in the hopes of uncovering the real killer, and clearing your own name. He reluctantly agrees, and your adventure begins.
Who is the real killer? Is it the affable, yet prone to fits of anger barista? Could it be the quiet, twitchy college student? Maybe it was the hard-as-nails HR rep from the giant bio-lab down the street? You’ll have to get their stories and weigh the evidence, and if you aren’t careful, you might even wind up dead yourself.
A Caffeine-dish Scheme
The game really looks great, sporting some slick manga-style character models (presented as stills while that character is conversing with you). Each of the five main characters sports a great amount of detail, and the stills will switch out to convey the dominant emotions behind what they are saying. From the main menu, there is also a collection of production sketches to leaf through. The backdrops are also richly crafted, though there are only four to be seen in the game.
The voice acting is really solid, as is the story. If you can look past the idea of a detective allowing a suspect in a murder to run around and do his investigating for him, there is nothing cheesy or heavy-handed about the dialogue or the way it’s delivered. The music (save for the vivacious intro sequence) is sparse, and helps generate tension.
In its entirety, the game will take just about an hour to complete. There are many save files to use, and it comes in handy; if you should somehow take the wrong approach while grilling one of the suspects, you may offend them (or be killed), and suddenly you find that the game has ended. If you haven’t been saving frequently, it’s back to the start you go. On one such replay, I found that attempting to fast-click through parts of the story can cause the text and sound to get hung up, even cutting out in some instances.
Look, But Don’t Touch!
With the beautifully designed backdrops, I started moving my cursor over everything in the room, clicking away and hoping to uncover clues. Nothing happened. Nothing will happen. As it turns out, this is not a point-and-click adventure. The only interactivity takes place when selecting which dialogue tree you want to follow while questioning the other suspects.
The process of “searching” for clues is done entirely by clicking on the “Examine Room” button at the bottom of the page. The rest of your detective work will involve delicately interrogating the suspects, and occasionally reporting back to the detective with what you’ve found. I’d really have to class this as more of an interactive comic book than a game, and considering the brevity of it all, the $15 price tag seems pretty steep.
At the conclusion of the game, it becomes clear that this tale is to serve as a prelude to later adventures. I would gladly welcome more tales surrounding the characters introduced in Jisei, but I hope that later installments offer a greater level of player involvement. Jisei contains gorgeous visuals, and some really solid writing, but comes up just short of greatness due to its length and the overall lack of things to do.