Tell me if you’re heard this one before; a former gang leader, a detective, a scientist, a journalist and a fuzzy cat mascot walk into a bar… Okay, that one loses something in translation, but it’s a great set-up for an FMV thriller. Chunsoft’s visual novel 428: Shibuya Scramble made a splash when it launched in Japan in 2008, and it’s now headed westwards to PC this September, remastered by Abstraction Games.
428: Shibuya Scramble has the look of a corny mid/low budget Japanese TV show and a story to match, as you can see in the trailer below. You hop between timelines, following and directing the adventures of five larger-than-life characters. Their life-or-death decisions determined by your multiple choice answers as they dash around Tokyo’s Shibuya district.
Unlike some visual novels, 428: Shibuya Scramble has a lot of branches to its tale, with 50 possible endings (granted, many of them will be abrupt and probably fatal), alternative modes and special routes to uncover. Given your ability to hop around the timeline, it should make hunting for secrets easier and more immediately rewarding, too. According to VNDB (a database of all things Visual and Novel) it’s more than a weekend read, too, clocking in at 30-50 hours if you want to see everything.
Shibuya Scramble stands out from the crowd with its mix of FMV and photography, but I feel this a style that a lot of people would be into. Choose-your-own-adventure, TV thriller style is a niche not nearly well explored enough, and while we’ve seen a bit of an upswing in pure FMV adventures over the past few years, 428’s particular mix of video, photography and text feels fresh.