What if there was a way to stop the aging process and only your family knew the secret? How far would you go to protect it? And at what price? The Centennial Case is not your typical crime adventure game. It does everything it can to be different, whether that’s taking you to various murders over the course of 100 years or using live-action footage to make you feel like you’re part of a movie. The latter evokes a nostalgic feeling of the FMV games of yesteryear, but the advanced technology and heavy focus on deduction create an experience that’s equally immersive and engaging, if not always hits the mark.
The Centennial Case is a narrative adventure revolving around the Shijima family, who have been linked to a series of suspicious murders over the last century. They also hold a unique object that promises eternal youth. Is it real or a myth? As the protagonist and crime writer Haruka Kagami, you must uncover the truth and connect various events and murders to uncover the family’s long-kept secrets.
The majority of The Centennial Case takes place in live-action scenes. You’re looking at them more than interacting with any game mechanics, but the story is captivating enough to hold your attention. The highlight of the experience is your role as a detective and how you constantly wonder how all those pieces fit into the larger scheme of things. Learning a new clue always gave me something to think about, and I enjoyed forming my theories based on people’s reactions or conflicting information. Each case has multiple layers; Not only are you trying to figure out the culprit and the events behind each murder, but you’re getting one step closer to seeing how each death is connected and if the family actually has the ability to stop aging.
I liked that the cases are set in different time periods as the story often jumps from the past to the present. This dynamic adds variety and a new twist to any crime novel, while also allowing you to see how it has affected elements in the present. My favorite case took place in a 1970’s nightclub, which dealt with the extravagance and pressure of showbiz. Each case leaves everyone involved under suspicion and brings with it a variety of motives, from jealousy and a sense of duty to revenge and anger. However, not all cases are the same. Some mysteries seem to have obvious answers, and the later cases throw in new elements like logic and gameplay puzzles that I wish were present earlier in the game.
Still, it’s really the puzzle solving that makes this game so interesting. After collecting all your clues, you will be taken to a 3D hexagonal grid. This is where you select the clues and fit them into possible hypotheses, looking at all the possible ways the events could have unfolded. Sometimes this leads you down false paths that almost try to play with your certainty. I enjoyed looking at every angle of evidence, from alibis to the placement of items at the crime scene. It just made me more confident in my argument and how I wanted to present my case.
The next phase is to present your theory to the group on what feels like an Ace Attorney courtroom, albeit without the crazy antics. You’re given multiple choice options to say what you think really happened, and at the end of each case you’re given a score based on how many mistakes you made. Each person involved tests your argument and forces you to support it appropriately. I liked the tension here; Nothing feels like a safe bet because many possibilities seem viable.
However, because the hypothesis period is very involved, there is never a feeling of being completely in the dark – although sometimes you may be surprised at how the evidence adds up and new elements emerge. I sometimes went into cases where I wasn’t entirely sure who the perpetrator was, but I trusted the evidence that was lopsided and that got me to the right answer. Tips are available if you’re really stuck, but I never felt I needed them.
Unfortunately, the acting is hit-and-miss. Sometimes actors overdo it with their performances and there’s no telling whether it’s on purpose or not. Some of it feels cheesy, but there are some good actors, especially in the more tense and emotional situations. Some people may find it confusing that the same actors appear in all cases and play different roles. For example, one can be the victim in one case only to be the perpetrator in the next. That didn’t bother me, since you clearly know when you’re moving into a different time period. However, some people may find it difficult to adjust. My only other swipe at the game is that it gives you dialog options that don’t affect anything. In fact, what you select returns the same rows in most cases. It’s the illusion of having an RPG or a choice where there isn’t one that disappointed me.
Not many games are built like The Centennial Case, and I savored the ambition to try something different to tell a complex story and involve the player in putting it together. It felt like I was reading a great crime thriller, buzzing with possibilities, but the interactivity and structure allow you to better understand the clues and their meanings. At times, The Centennial Case stumbles, but it’s worth enduring for the wild ride it takes you on and the broader questions it raises about what is ethical in the world of science.
https://www.gameinformer.com/review/the-centennial-case/an-unconventional-and-alluring-mystery The Centennial Case Review – An Unconventional And Alluring Mystery