CLCman wrote:Don’t play it with the lights off.
- This is based on Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni by Ryuikishi07. Purchase the first arc here! And the second arc here!
- This game was created for the Novus Ordo Turnaboutum competition by CLCman and calvinball.
- This game contains spoilers for Onikakushi-hen. Don't play it if you want to remain entirely unspoiled.
- Having played Higurashi is NOT required to play/enjoy this case. Do not let disinterest in Higurashi or zero plans to play Higurashi get in the way of you playing this game.
- SwagmaWampyr, having played this case, recommends having played Higurashi Arc 1 before this game. He has graciously offered to hook up (buy) anyone wishing to play Arc 1 before this game with said Arc.
Inboubarashi-hen is a different kind of Ace Attorney fancase for one big reason: it's a crossover with Higurashi. Now, I had pretty much no experience with Higurashi before playing the case. All I knew was that kids murdered each other and... yeah, that's pretty much it. There's some good news with this case, though: your playing experience not only isn't hampered by not knowing about Higurashi, I suspect it may be enhanced. So a great job from enigma for making sure that even Higurashi newcomers would have a good time.
The tone of the case is normal enough at the start. There's an extremely creepy prologue, but that's not unexpected, and the jabber in the courtroom lobby isn't anything unusual. We meet our protagonist, our co-counsel, and we find out our defendant is dead. Weird, but not crazy.
Then you enter the courtroom and everything changes. Inboubarashi-hen is definitely a horror case and it's not because of zombies or ghosts; it's because the atmosphere of the case is simply eerie and it doesn't let you go once it starts. I really have to compliment Inboubarashi-hen's horror, though. It's a very subtle sort of creepiness, the kind that you get where things are just not quite right. It's a tricky balance to hit, but this case does it very well in my opinion.
The case has some nice presentation. A fair amount of custom music is utilized, and to excellent effect. The tracks that add to the eerie atmosphere are a real highlight in this regard. The case has some really fantastic sprite casting for its original characters as well, and they all just felt really alive.
Unfortunately, not all the presentation was good. I noticed that in an effort to make the available Higurashi sprite blend in better with the original characters' Ace Attorney style sprites, enigma endeavored to get the Higurashi sprites' mouths animated. Unfortunately, this did not always work. Rika's sprites look slightly glitchy, while the detective's sprite goes CRAZY every time he tries to speak. None of these, however, are really enigma's fault, and I can't blame him for this as I'm no good as an artist in the first place. My only hope is that these things can be rectified in the future somehow. Leaving the Higurashi sprites without mouth animations really might be an option, though. I've seen a character with no mouth animation or blinking animation before in a case, and it wasn't that big of a deal.
The plot is fascinating, and while some of it is borrowed from Higurashi (at least, I think it is. clcman and I did a little research after we finished the case.) much of it is from enigma's own mind (especially because we have OCs involved) and it's fascinating to see the case and mystery unfold. There are some incredible twists in this case, and the development of the story is as interesting as the development of the characters.
Speaking of characters, that was another big highlight. The OCs of this case are some of the best I've seen, and the character arc of one of them was just so great to see. Man, I wish I could say more, but I can't spoil anything. All I can say is go play it when it comes out.
Puzzles are well-executed except for ONE, but enigma knows what we're talking about so we'll leave it at that. Aside from the one problematic puzzle, this case actually, I think, had some of my favorite puzzles. There's one near the end which is very well-executed, as it takes thinking but everything is laid out plainly, so it feels very fair. Now, was it the craziest, insanest, toughest puzzle ever? No, which is good in my book because I suck at puzzles. But it WAS a well crafted, well-explained puzzle that in no way felt iffy. Basically, nice puzzles (except the ONE, but you know what we're talking about enigma).
To wrap up, Inboubarashi-hen is a little taste of something different, but it was delicious and left me hungry for seconds. Wow, that was actually awesome sounding. If I ever become a film critic or something I'm totally using that.
Sorry about that; let's get back on track.
To wrap up, Inboubarashi-hen is a little taste of something different, but it was delicious and left me hungry for seconds. There were some glitching sprites, and there was a problematic puzzle, but these issues pale in comparison to the skillful writing, intricately woven plot, moving characters in the case. You don't need any Higurashi knowledge to play, or even Ace Attorney knowledge besides how to play, really. The case provides a superbly eerie atmosphere and clever puzzles with hints at something even more chilling waiting in the shadows, just dying to be found out, and I'm down with that. Kudos to enigma for an excellent entry!
Zakimoto Kuroshima is an experienced and professional divorce attorney in 1983 Japan. However, he has been hired by a mysterious employer and brought to the town of Hinamizawa to take part in an unusual court proceeding. Two young girls have been brutally murdered and it’s up to Kuroshima to defend the main suspect. Of course, said suspect is also dead in a bizarre apparent suicide. Go figure. And that’s BEFORE the cult-like local behavior, a sinister group with unknown motives and a homicidal guardian spirit that supposedly kills all of the village’s enemies get involved. This is going to be a tough one…
How does one describe Inboubarashi-hen? Dark and gritty? Moderately to significantly terrifying? A reason to never want to see a Japanese honorific ever again? The answer is, of course, yes, but it’s also more than that.
Inboubarashi-hen is a crossover, but an atypical one. In fact, this is the first crossover I’ve ever seen that I think works better for people who HAVEN’T seen one of the two sides. (And to be honest, you don't need to know anything Ace Attorney other than how to play.) If my limited understanding of Higurashi is correct, basically all of the main characters have been murdered, and it’s up to this OC (Kuroshima) to figure everything out. Or something like that. Things get pretty crazy pretty fast.
The greatest strength of Inboubarashi-hen is without a doubt its atmosphere. You see, Inboubarashi-hen isn’t just a mystery. Much like Higurashi, it is a psychological horror game, and enigma does this quite well. There are the early-on points that are more discomforting than disturbing, like the crowd, prosecutor and judge’s rather… excessive devotion to the village’s “Three Great Families.” Then there are the things that are creepy but not quite horrifying, like when some of the profile pictures gain creepy shadows and smiles without you noticing. It's a LOT more disturbing than you'd expect. THEN you get to the legend of the village’s guardian spirit that allegedly kills all of the town’s enemies, and the fact that the crowd seems OKAY with the idea of having a murderous ghost running around. THEN things start to get nuts. Only then. In short, Inboubarashi-hen is a perfect example of “boiling water” tension: increase it a bit at a time so the player doesn’t notice until it’s too late. This also had the peculiar effect that nothing really “shocked” me. Every step we made towards the truth flowed together well enough that it felt more like a logical chain of thought than a sudden shocking revelation. Of course, I had no problem with that. I just thought I’d mention it, because it was an interesting effect in the rather "dramatic revelation" heavy world of Ace Attorney.
As far as mysteries go, Inboubarashi-hen certainly has one of the more... puzzling causes of death I’ve encountered, causing me to scratch my head and say “I KNOW it’s a murder, but how did they do that?” Its primary mystery, however, lies in the vast and far-reaching conspiracy that Kuroshima finds lying before him. And the question always lying on the tip of your tongue is “are these people in on the conspiracy, or just passively letting it happen, and which one is worse?” If the outline of this mystery sounds familiar to Higurashi fans, there is also another piece to it which I am fairly certain is NOT a part of Higurashi, and it just makes the entire situation more insane.
Presentation-wise, Inboubarashi-hen is acceptable. The custom backgrounds and evidence (not to mention profiles) look really good, and the OCs (Kuroshima, his assistant Kasumi and prosecutor Onimura) use excellently-chosen “Random Characters for People to Use” sprites. The Higurashi-derived sprites look… okay. Calvinball has more details on some of the issues we encountered, but it’s nothing that can’t be polished up and fixed, and it doesn't really bring down the case. The one casting choice I disagree with is the judge. He is sufficiently different from the canon Judge that I would prefer he have different or modified sprites (see Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney for an example). But it’s not a big deal.
The dialogue is generally good and case usually feels pretty polished. EVERYONE uses Japanese honorifics all the time (which can be a little distracting), but that’s clearly a style choice and largely justifiable, given that the game is literally in Japan. Also, like with Gumpei’s case, characters use a lot more profanity than is normal for Ace Attorney. However, given the situation and tone (there is literally a piece of evidence called “Serial Death Report”), it fits fairly well here, and I can forgive Kuroshima a goddammit or three here and there. Still a few bits (like Kasumi calling Kuroshima an “asshat”) that seemed unnecessary or extraneous, but that’s a decision up to the author, not me. Also, I'm incredibly confused as to whether the profiles are surname first, personal name last, or personal name first, surname last. It felt like there were some of both. But that could just be me and my lack of understanding of Japanese culture.
Music is generally good, with certain choices being absolutely amazing. In particular, one certain character’s theme at the end of the part we got ("Good evening ladies and germs"). enigma knows what we’re talking about, and so will all of you when it comes out.
Inboubarashi-hen has some decent puzzles, and in its later part (when Kuroshima is actually putting pieces together) everything flows very well, and included one of Calvinball and I’s favorite puzzles. There was one or two spots where we felt that a valid objection could be made using a piece of evidence that wasn’t accepted, and there is a multi-evidence present that only took the evidence in one order, but all of these complaints were very clearly highlighted in our SoC, so hopefully enigma’s working on that right now.
There is one unique gameplay element to Inboubarashi-hen, and that is its penalty system. As the local council (the ones REALLY making the decision in the trial, not the judge) becomes more impatient, they give you less wiggle room. Pressing statements (and possibly just standing around, I’m not quite sure) will, over time, INCREASE the size of the penalty that you will receive should you present wrong. However, this system has some glitches. In particular, there was a tendency for the penalty bar to be flashing at around 20%, and if you made an incorrect present you’d get a full bar penalty and lose. As alarming as this system could be, the fact that this is a V6 trial and we could just instantly reload a save cut down on the concern A LOT. To be honest, I’d recommend this system be discontinued. It didn’t work all that well and really added nothing to the experience. The trial’s atmosphere and story keep the tension well enough without additional mechanics. If any part of it is kept, I would recommend the fact that getting a penalty increases future penalties for that cross-examination; it’s clever and makes sense, especially since Kuroshima is on very thin ice the entire time.
In summary: Inboubarashi-hen is a monster of a case that starts off nuts and gets nuttier. Its atmosphere is extremely tense and generally disturbing, especially the further you go. The conspiracy manages to be the most fleshed-out of any of our cases, yet is also the most mysterious. All of the important OCs are compelling and the case fits together very well. To demonstrate how well the horror vibe is accomplished, there’s a non-penalty related bad ending. (Don’t worry, it’s very easy to spot.) What happens? Absolutely nothing. The protagonist goes home and everything is fine. AND IT’S HORRIFYING. Yeah, enigma has this horror thing down pat.
So, do I recommend Inboubarashi-hen? Well, you better like grimdark things. And be able to tolerate Japanese names and honorifics. You don’t need to know anything about Higurashi and it may actually be better if you don’t. If all of these things apply to you, then you may want to check Inboubarashi-hen down when it comes out (which, according to enigma’s signature, is pretty darn soon).
Just don’t play it with the lights off.
Court Lobby: Kamiki Village ~ Okami
Court Opening: Dim Lantern ~ Fatal Frame
Logic: Kakugo ~ Jigoku Shoujo
Announce the Truth: Kairai ~ Shigurui
Oh Crap: Virtua Mima ~ Perfect Blue
Judgement Room: Hyoui - Game Lan Ver.
CE Moderato: Corpse Party ~ Corpse Party: Book of Shadows
CE Allegro: Confutatis ~ Corpse Party
Kuroshima - Objection: You - ElectroHouse Mix
Suspense: Jiken ~ Higurashi
Thought Route: FNaF3 Ending Remix ~ Deltahedron
Village Funeral: Main Theme - Tsumi (Another Version) ~ Higurashi
Rebuttal: Gun ~ Higurashi Kai
Onimura's Ringtone: Dear You - 8bit
Onimura's Attack: Anten ~ Higurashi
Rika's Theme: Shizuka Na Asa ~ Higurashi
Super Objection: The Way ~ HDMusicization
Correct Answer: Final Answer ~ Umi
Solution: Close Mission (Arranged) ~ Higu Daybreak
Good Bad End Credits: Inside Sadness ~ Professor Layton
Misae's Diagnosis: Goodbye For Now ~ MrEpicOSTs
Sad Second Wind: The Red Truth ~ MrEpicOSTs
Kasumi's True Colours: Virus ~ MrEpicOSTs
Game Changer: Mystic Antique ~ Trick
By Starlight: Wind of June ~ MrEpicOSTs
Fear: Koukatsu ~ Higurashi
I AM KASUMI: Cult ~ Kikuo
The Truth Revealed: The Truth ~ Parasyte
Kasumi Failure: Midousuji's Theme ~ Yowamushi Pedal
Final Judgement: Hayashi (Piano Ver.) ~ Higurashi
Last Chance: Unlimited Blade Works ~ Fate/Stay Night UBW
Mistakes We've Made: GitS Origa - Inner Universe Piano Cover ~ TheEnigmaTNG
Coming Home: And I'm Home (Instrumental Ver.) ~ wowaka
Credits/Farewell: Yami Ni Nureta Catastrophe ~ Corpse Party
Epilogue: Shizuka Naru Kougi - Shuku ~ Higurashi
Witness 1 - Testimony 1
Witness 1 - Testimony 2
Witness 1 - Testimony 3
Witness 1 - Question 1
Witness 2 - Testimony 1
Witness 2 - Testimony 2
Witness 2 - Testimony 3
Witness 2 - Question 1
Witness 2 - Question 2
Perceive/Thought Route/Psyche Locks/Other Special Gameplay
Proof Question - Question 1
Witness 3 - Testimony 1
Witness 4 - Testimony
Final Witness - Testimony