Poirot can have a sleep-in

There are  puzzles to solve and mysterious imposing mansions to contemplate in Another Code:...
There are puzzles to solve and mysterious imposing mansions to contemplate in Another Code: Recollection. Image: Nintendo
For: Switch
From: Arc System Works
Rating: ★★★ 

For a long time, if a game release was met with at least normal amounts of praise or notability, then odds are that it would get a remaster or remake at some point down the line — we’ve been doing this since the ’80s.

However, these re-releases would always be of "good" games. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and The Last of Us are particularly egregious in this regard. I never understood this; why release something that was already good? I’d appreciate it more if they gave some games another shot, especially overshadowed or "ahead of their time" games. So when a remake of two DS games I’d never heard of, with "mixed" reviews at the time, crossed my desk, I was interested.

Another Code: Recollection is a point-and-click puzzle game which is a remake of Another Code and its sequel, which were games originally on the Nintendo DS. In the first game, you play as 13 year old Ashley Robins, who has been invited to go to an island where her dad, who she believed was dead, is apparently residing. In the second, it’s three years on and you’re once again called to a place you’ve never been to, but this time for purposes unknown. In both games, you walk around, solve puzzles, and watch the story and the underlying mystery unfold. I’ll mainly be focusing on the first game here.

Puzzles are fairly standard but seem geared towards using the in-game camera to take photos of hints or solutions to assist you. You might take a photo of a painting and use it to solve a puzzle, or of a sequence of books and copy it across the room. While simple, the puzzles are accompanied by an optional "hint" system, giving progressively more overt hints if you ever get stuck.

I didn’t really like some of the puzzles that forced motion controls. There weren’t too many, but it felt like they were ticking a box, rather than being used to create a decent puzzle; the very first puzzle was a motion-controlled one, but then the next one didn’t happen until a few hours later into the game.

I will say that the general story and the mystery behind it was the driving force to keep me playing, even if I figured out some of the story a few hours in advance. Pretty early on, we run into a ghost of a young boy who died 50 years ago with a strange mark on his chest, explained as the last thing he saw — thankfully, the mark on his chest isn’t obvious, so it’s a good hook. The mystery of why Ashley’s dad vanished for over a decade is also intriguing.

While it’s the best part of the game, the writing could be a little more complex, and sometimes feels a little like a first draft. Our ghost friend spouts "I just remembered something" more than I do when I want to leave a conversation, and always seems to have a specific part of his memory missing which — wouldn’t you know it — always happens to be the important solution to the puzzle. This happens so much it’s kind of comical.

Ashley’s conflicting emotions towards seeing her dad are also interesting, but explained so straightforwardly that it lacks depth.

The game does have its fair share of issues. The voice acting is just fine; our main character stands out a lot more, but nearly everyone else doesn’t do a great job — the main antagonist is especially laughable.

On one occasion, a puzzle required me to use a feature to overlay photos I took without having even previously explained that was a feature before. That was the only time I deployed the hint system, and I wasn’t too happy with it.

There’s also a bit of inconsistency in the plot, most notably where it was explicitly mentioned that our ghost friend cannot go through walls, and later on teleported into a locked room. The game also crashed a few times which is always irritating.

Another Code: Recollection is actually a great poster child for my ideal of re-released games; a decent game that has been stuck on a system that is no longer made, with games that you can’t buy, being released on a modern console and given some extra love. But it’s not without flaws, and those hold it back from me recommending it to everyone. If you are a fan of puzzle adventure games that don’t require a lot of thought though, go ahead and have fun with this one.

By Michael Robertson

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