“Everyone happens to die in my stories,” says creator Danganronpa. “Best Detective Archives: RAIN CODE”

Image: Spike Chunsoft

One of the biggest surprises and highlights at Nintendo Direct on September 13 was the unveiling of Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE, a brand new mystery game from Kazutaki Kodaki, creator of the Danganronpa series.

The action of RAIN CODE, set in a rainy city full of bright lights and in a darker fantasy style compared to the pink, bloody school halls of the previous Kodaki franchise, marks Kodaki’s first foray into full 3D and reconnects with Spike Chunsoft and many other team standing behind beloved, exaggerated puzzle games.

After forming Too Kyo Games in 2017, Kodaka helped produce, publish, and assist with other games – such as Death Come True and World’s End Club – so RAIN CODE returns as lead writer.

We had the opportunity to talk to Kodaka-san and Spike Chunsoft about the upcoming mystery game, ask about his inspiration and how his past work has inspired him.

Nintendo Life: Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE is described as a “clear noir adventure game”. Can you tell us a bit about what this means and what makes it different from previous games?

Alex Flagg, Location Producer: Especially the “lucid-noir” part is a play on words on the noir crime story, with elements of the main character who is amnesia and therefore not completely clear. There is another meaning of the word related to the light and the lights of the city. Especially neon is also a big element used in building the world and atmosphere of the game. So “lucid-noir” is an amalgamation of those ideas that we thought sounded cool.

Kazutaka Kodaka, screenwriter: What makes RAIN CODE special is that my previous work had 2D graphics, but this time it’s 3D. With this version, we hope to reach a wider audience so that more people can play the game.

The game features a sort of cop buddy in Yuma and Shinigami who come as a couple, while in most Danganronpa games you have a larger cast. Have you encountered any challenges focusing on a pair of characters?

Mud: They are a couple, but there are also other detectives who will show up with special abilities. There are a lot of interactions with other characters, so not much of a difference to previous games.

I feel really lucky that everyone is finding it [Danganronpa] interesting … it allows me to work on a larger project like RAIN CODE.

So are there times where you will need to work or connect with one of the other detectives?

Mud: Yes, Yuma and the other detectives work together and also have conflicts with other detectives, which will also be seen in the game.

With Master Labirinths, they seem like a very effective way to solve puzzles in RAIN CODE, but there are some similarities with the Rebuttal Showdown minigame by Danganronpa. How have you changed the interactive puzzle-solving in this game?

Mud: It’s really hard to put into words. *laughter*

Something we must experience for ourselves!

Mud: In Danganronpa’s case, decisions are always made in class trials. These are the places in Mystery Labyrinths where you solve puzzles, and as you get closer to the truth, the scenery and surroundings will also change, and that’s what we wanted to show.

In the Mysterious Labyrinth, the general rules do not apply, so many things can happen, for example when you solve a puzzle, everything can change so that you can see different environments.

It’s as if it were Alice in Wonderlandand in this game there is a mix between me and Alice in Wonderland.

Actually, I wanted to ask about it! I’ve read interviews where you said you were inspired by Tim Burton’s work. Is his version of Alice in Wonderland one of these inspirations, or are there any other aspects of Burton’s work that influenced RAIN CODE?

Mud: There is a city of Gotham and also an aesthetic that inspires me.

A little broader question for you: What do you think makes you fall back into the murder mystery genre, and how do you come up with ideas to change the formula every time?

Thought the image of wet raincoats would be really cool

Mud: The murder mystery is very popular in Japan! I think detective crime is interesting and has an interesting culture. With this type of game, I want to show the world different aspects.

Coming back to the inspiration of Alice in Wonderland / Tim Burton, RAIN CODE (compared to Danganronpa and World’s End Club) seems to be a darker, urban fantasy. Does this genre change give you a lot more freedom or does it seem more difficult?

Mud: It gives me more freedom, but fantasy elements like Shinigami can use special abilities that other characters have helped in writing the script.

Do these special abilities come into play during investigations, or are they only available in Mysterious Labyrinths?

Mud: The Shinigami, the one you saw in the trailer, in the world her skills are not really known to other people, so no one believes in her abilities. In the world of RAIN CODE, Master Detectives have the skill you mentioned, and it’s a known thing.

Yuma, the main character, does not have this ability, but along with the Shinigami, he becomes a detective’s apprentice. During the investigation, Yuma and other skillful master detectives will try to work together to solve a murder or mystery using their abilities. Detective skills specialize in investigating incidents.

Focusing on Yuma, who is an intern detective, is at the beginning of his story or career with RAIN CODE. What do you think draws you to those characters that seem very normal on the surface, or like a weakness that ends up being picked up?

Mud: I want to create a protagonist that is as simple as possible so that players can empathize with the character as well. Yuma has memory loss, so this is another way that players can sympathize (as they learn about the game’s events and characters at the same time as he does).

This is similar to some of the other characters (like Makoto Naegi from Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc), so I think people will connect with Yuma too.

Mud: I agree!

By touching Danganronpa, RAIN CODE sees you reunite with some of the creators (artists, composers, writers) in the Danganronpa series. What was it like working with them again and have you changed your approach to RAIN CODE?

It’s like it’s Alice in Wonderland, and this game has a mix of “me” and Alice in Wonderland.

Mud: This project started while I was still at Spike Chunsoft, about five years ago. Spike Chunsoft helped create RAIN CODE and when I was working on Danganronpa I wasn’t using 3D while the Spike Chunsoft development team was working on tangentially related titles and overseeing 3D. This time I was able to work with this team and thanks to that we were able to include the 3D part. It’s a great time.

It really is! It’s great to see you guys together again. Have there been any challenges while working with your team while working with 3D? You had 3D backgrounds in Dangranronpa, 3D character models at World’s End Club and FMV for Death Comes True, what different challenges did you experience in full 3D?

Mud: This time, I did not place the city in a country that exists. We had to build a new city from scratch so it was an experience for me! But I found it very interesting.

Why did you want to write a game in a city or new place that doesn’t exist?

Mud: For starters, I wanted to create a concept with characters as detectives. And when I thought about the detectives, I didn’t think about any place that would be bright or shiny! I thought of a city like London that was cloudy and so on. Thought the detectives would be better off.

I mentioned London, but I’ve only been there once * laughs * I know Japan very well! But that’s exactly why I wanted to create a city that is new but still has different elements from different countries.

Master Detective Archies Rain Code
2018 game trailer art. – Image: Spike Chunsoft

Then I thought of a town where people wear raincoats – not code, coats * laughs * – and thought an image of wet raincoats would be really cool in a detective game. So first we came up with a visual idea for the entire city scenery. So there’s some Asia, some Japanese influence in the city. There are also red bricks that probably remind you of London.

Definitely! And also rain. It’s raining a lot in England.

Mud: *laughter*

Between Danganronpa and RAIN CODE you worked on Death Comes True and World’s End Club, which are very different from Danganronpa. Did any of these experiences help in the development of RAIN CODE, or did you draw any ideas or inspiration from them?

But even if it’s a sub-character, I think “oh, what if this is the main character? Can I write a story for them?”

Mud: I haven’t written the scripts directly or gave directions for these titles, so this is really the first game since Danganronpa where I have scripted and directed. It’s been a while since I wrote all these words.

I’ve published a lot of video games since Danganronpa. Five years have passed so I had a lot of emotion to put into the project.

I can imagine! Why do you think Danganronpa has spoken to so many people, not only in Japan but all over the world, and what do you hope people will get with RAIN CODE?

Kazutaki Kodaki photo provided by Spike Chunsoft
Kazutaka Kodaka, screenwriter at the Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE – Image: Spike Chunsoft

Mud: When I was working on Dangnaronpa, there weren’t any plans to release the game overseas, so I’m really happy. Actually, I don’t know why it was well received or why everyone likes it! But I feel really lucky that everyone finds it interesting and confirms that it allows me to work on a larger project like RAIN CODE. I feel happy about it.

I’m glad everyone around the world can play this game, but I don’t necessarily target an overseas audience. I really value the user experience as I am a gamer so this is the thing I value the most.

That’s a really nice word. There are some really exaggerated characters and extraordinary talents in Danganronpa. Do you have a favorite character you like to write about?

Mud: It changes depending on where I am or at what point I am writing. But even if it’s a sub-character, I think “oh, what if this is the main character? Can I write a story for them?” This is something I think about when writing a plot.

When I work on a character profile, I think every character gets the main story and is the main character. This is how I write each character.

I think that’s why people really connect with them and enjoy the characters because they just stand out that way. It really is a fantastic word. Finally, have you ever considered writing something that is not related to murder or crime, or do you have the perfect story you would like to write?

Mud: Oh yeah, it just so happens that everyone dies in my stories … * laughs *

This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.

We want to thank Kodace-san and Spike Chunsoft for taking the time to talk to us. Major Detective Archives: RAIN CODE is released on Switch in Spring 2023.

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