The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story Review — 100 Years of Greatness

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story is an engaging mystery that involves murders that span over a period of 100 years.

Full-motion-video games are rare to come by, and the last one that Square Enix created was The Quiet Man in 2018. It wasn’t very good.

Thankfully, the publisher nails it this time with The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story. While the “gameplay” and interactive elements are a bit contrived, the immense quality of the game’s story, characters, and acting far outweigh the negatives.

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story Review — 100 Years of Greatness

The Centennial Case follows a young mystery novel writer named Haruka Kagami and her editor, Akari Yamase. Haruka investigates the Shijima family, who has had several of its members killed over the previous few decades. In order to discover the truth behind these murders, she has to look 100 years in the past to connect each case and piece together how they relate to the present year, 2022.

There are a total of four cases in the past 100 years to solve, and how Haruka does so is by reading books and firsthand accounts written by those who were involved in the events. The way each case is presented is that she imagines herself as the main character of these books, and the members of the Shijima family play the other character roles.

Acting Chops

It’s a really interesting creative decision to have the actors play multiple characters depending on the time period. While keeping the acting cast small may have been the result of filming and producing the scenes during COVID-19, it actually allows you more time with the actors themselves. I found myself more connected with the characters in the present day after witnessing them playing different roles in the past.

The cast’s acting is superb. Every line is delivered well, filled with emotion and impact. Oftentimes, I’d forget that Haruka is just pretending to be these characters in the books. Every actor puts on a believable performance in every single case. The only aspect I wouldn’t recommend is the English voice acting. 

While some of the English voices would fit well in an anime or a JRPG, it doesn’t quite work well here in a live-action setting. In particular, Haruka’s English voice actor sounds stilted and awkward, which is especially damaging considering she’s the main character. It’s best to stick with the Japanese voices throughout.

Following the Logic

Being an FMV game, it’s hard to build an interactive component, and unfortunatel, that’s where most of the faults lie. After seeing a murder take place, you’ll enter the “Cognitive Phase.” There’s a “Path of Logic” that has several questions pertaining to the events that took place during the chapter, something along the lines of “why did the murderer use this weapon?” From there, you place all the clues that were picked up and form a little puzzle, unlocking hypothetical scenarios.

After unlocking enough, and when you think you know whodunit, you’ll have to pick the correct hypothetical scenarios that lead to exposing the killer. This kind of gameplay isn’t bad, per se. However, it can be incredibly monotonous having to watch every single hypothetical scenario. It slows the game’s pacing to a crawl.

Even so, the way that each case unravels during a chapter and how they ultimately intertwine from 1922 to the present day is utterly fascinating. Every story element connects in some way or another, and it really satisfies the conspiracy theory part of the brain. Both the finale and epilogue take wild twists and turns until the very end.

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story Review — The Bottom Line

Pros:

  • Engaging story.
  • A focused cast of characters.
  • Great acting.

Cons:

  • Interactive and gameplay elements are sluggish.
  • English voice track isn't good.

I feel like The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story may have been better paced as an actual movie than a game given that the interactive elements bogged down the experience a bit.

Even so, everything else about the title shines. The century spanning story is exceptionally engaging and I found myself wanting to continue on to the next chapter to see what happened next. It also helps immensely that the actors bring stellar performances to each case.

[Note: Square Enix provided the copy of The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story used for this review.]

Our Rating
8
The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story is an engaging mystery that involves murders that span over a period of 100 years.
Reviewed On: PC

Contributor

Published Jun. 9th 2022

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