Disaster Report 4 has an interesting history. While the game was originally in development for the PlayStation 3, it was canceled just one day before its release due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. It wouldn’t be a good idea to publish a play about the earthquake after such a tragedy. It would take four years for Executive Producer Kazuma Kujo to buy the rights to his new company and start the game from scratch.
Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories isn’t exactly the same game we got in 2011. Development reportedly started from scratch when the game was ported to PS4. However, the PS3 footage of the game shows that it was completed sufficiently as planned, and we can feel confident that at least large parts of the game ended as originally intended.
Disaster Report 4 review
You start Disaster Report 4 by designing your character and giving them a name. The character creation tools aren’t the deepest in the game, but they give you enough control that you can feel a measure of control. Your character starts the game in a city he visited when a major earthquake hit. The early moments of the game are pretty tense as you watch the chaos unfold around you, and it feels like there is no place that is truly safe no matter where you go and whatever you do. Frankly, as someone who lives in an earthquake zone, I was impressed by how instinctive it felt.
But as the earthquakes begin to subside, the game soon enters a story. The game lasts for several days and until the end there is always the threat of aftershocks, which can quickly become very dangerous. As you get deeper into the game, real seismic activity becomes rarer. Instead, the game largely boils down to how people from the moving world are coping in the aftermath of such a major event.
Disaster Report 4 gameplay
You will deal with other people throughout the game and how you deal with them can often be just as dangerous as earthquakes. Some people will want your help, some will want to hurt you or get what you want. I personally preferred the sections where you had to fight less directly, because in an exploration game the speed and slow walking pace felt better than during combat, but these sections are few and far between. The moment-to-moment gameplay is pretty straightforward, but the game knows it will change your environment and objectives so often that it never feels repetitive.
Maintaining your character’s health by eating, drinking and using the bathroom regularly provides an extra layer of management as well as some simple exploration which is nice. While it prevented the game from taking too many notes, it also wasn’t that often distracting. Just as you must protect your own character, you will also need to help a group of other characters. While your character is being created, the game features a series of recurring characters that you will encounter over and over again. While the game’s main story was a bit silly at times, it was interesting to see how they unfold over a few days in these circumstances. Day one panic often morphed into something completely different by day three, the difference falling anywhere between despair and newfound self-confidence.
Disaster Report 4 graphics and sound
The appearance of Disaster Report 4 won’t make you forget that the game started as a PS3 game, but the game has definitely come a long way from its predecessor. There’s a lot going on in any given scene, so it’s forgivable if the game keeps running well, but frame issues and sluggishness are not uncommon here. Long load times are also obsolete, especially since the nature of the game often causes you to go back and forth between domains. At least the game sounds great, with solid sound effects that really get me moving with every aftershock, and a soundtrack that nicely and consistently fits the tone of the game.
Set during a worldwide pandemic, Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories feels almost fitting with its past. While it’s not quite as parallel to the setting of the game as the 2011 earthquake, it’s pretty scary to see society crumble and people panic, and I think it adds an extra bit of interest to the events here. I’m glad that Disaster Report 4 is finally out. A really interesting world, game design that understands its gameplay and regularly finds new contexts for its loop, and the fantastic atmosphere still made me have a great time.