Have you ever wanted to step into the shoes of Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot in a Japanese setting? Well, now you can do just that! The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story brings all the old-school detective tropes you’d expect from an Agatha Christie novel or Murder, She Wrote episode and somehow makes them work across several different points in time.
A Classic Detective Setup
The game follows the present-day Shijima family and a famous writer called Haruka that learns about a mysterious fruit that grants people eternal life. It’s quite an intriguing narrative from start to finish and I often found myself bamboozled by the culprit’s identity on more than one occasion. The English dub is as cheesy as it gets though, and while there are some outrageous logic leaps – which detective series don’t have those? – the story and somewhat wacky characters all come together in a very satisfying way that made me want to watch even more. Hopefully, this is the start of an awesome Netflix series?… I doubt it, but one can dream!
I especially loved how there were multiple fail-states where Haruka would name the wrong person and get absolutely roasted in public. This led to me constantly messing up on purpose, just to witness the hilariously goofy antics that ensued. It’s even better that the game’s events are in full FMV style. Think of when you offer up an outrageous response to a confidant in Persona 5, but then have it realised in dramatic, theatre-mode glory. This is amazing. Easily one of my favourite parts of the experience.
The Proceedings of The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story
The detective side of things is pretty simple. Answer some basic dialogue questions that barely change anything in the grand scheme of things, and receive clues that are practically spoon-fed to the audience as the tale unfolds. While the evidence is missable, players are automatically granted the same information once the FMV stops playing. So, it becomes a redundant feature right out the gate. Once the action reaches an important scene however, the game switches over to a grid-based conveyor belt of sorts.
This is where players gather their evidence and try to solve the ins and outs of a case. While you don’t need to input each individual string in the sequence, it will help reveal the broader picture and motivations that might’ve gone unheeded. These clues are super easy to solve since you can just keep trying to place each block into its correct slot with no penalty. And besides from a grade scorecard at the end, it doesn’t actually matter if you flub these up. Even if players haven’t been paying attention at all, enough trial and error will undoubtedly see them through. If you’re playing this game on console, prepare for some unnecessarily awkward controls. Picking up and placing evidence is mega clunky and it will start to grind your gears within minutes. Trust me on this.
The final part of the solution comes down to pointing out the true culprit. As I mentioned before, these can get quite tricky, since the answer isn’t always as succinct as you’d expect. Haruka is usually given a set of questions to answer and these can trip up even the brightest of amateur sleuths. The good thing is that you can always revert back to the last question after the characters ask if you’d like to summarise the events again. Overall, it’s a fun brain activity that requires the player to consider various angles of the case and the dynamics of each suspect group.
If you’re a fan of old-school detective dramas and campy plots with a serious edge, then The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story just might be for you. This story really draws you in from the opening moments and features several mysteries that are well worth uncovering. The controls on console do feel a little sloppy and the initial clue-gathering phase is virtually not even worth paying attention to. However, the over-the-top acting at parts and fail-state scenes are a joy to watch. Combine this with an enticing gameplay loop and fun detective-based vigour, and you’ll be in the zone for several cases of pure entertainment.
By Anthony Culinas – Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story is perfect for those in the mood for a corny, yet surprisingly deep narrative. Being full of memorable characters and motivations that will keep you coming back for more. While the controls can be quite aggravating and one of the main features is redundant from the outset, The Centennial Case is a great Japanese homage to the classic western detective stories of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – from Square Enix, no less!
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Square Enix. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.