Shinrai – Broken Beyond Despair review for PS5/4, Xbox Series X/One, Switch

Platform: PS5
Also on: PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Gosatsu Visual Novels
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

There?s good creepy, and there?s bad creepy. Somehow Shinrai – Broken Beyond Despair manages to be both.

First, the bad creepy. Shinrai is a visual novel that seems to be set in Japan, full of Japanese characters (or, at least, characters with Japanese names), who occasionally speak in broken English?except it wasn?t made in Japan. The developers seem to be German, as far as I can tell. I?m not someone who immediately jumps at using phrases like ?cultural appropriation,? but it kind of fits here. At best, it seems like a misguided way to demonstrate a love of Japanese visual novels ? and the less inclined you are to be charitable, the more offensive it feels.

That said, Shinrai is also has some of the good kind of creepy, too. It?s a visual novel featuring a murder mystery with some nods towards gory VNs like Corpse Party, and ? weird cultural references aside ? it all flows pretty well, right down to the different branching storylines that lead in different directions.

On top of that, Shinrai is more than just an endless series of dialogue trees. It also gives you the chance to explore crime scenes and piece together evidence, and it does a good job of making you feel like your choices make a difference.

But again, it?s very easy to give Shinrai a pretty hefty dose of side eye. It may have been made with the best of intentions, and it does an okay job of being an homage to its influences, but the route to get there could have been a lot less off-putting.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a Shinrai – Broken Beyond Despair PS4/PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: C+