Again: Eye of Providence
Developer Cing is no stranger to crafting mystery adventure games on the Nintendo DS. Their newest title, Again: Eye of Providence, continues their puzzle-heavy legacy while overhauling the art-style. With all the flair of a cheesy CSI TV show, Again offers fans of story-heavy quests a chance to unravel the enigma of a serial killer by stepping into the shoes of a paranormally gifted FBI agent.
19 years ago a killer going by the alias of Providence began a string of murders which remain unsolved to this day. It’s up to FBI agent J and his partner Kate to grill everyone from grizzled police detectives to withdrawn witnesses in order to shed light on a fresh crime which closely resembles the original Providence murders. Are they dealing with a copycat killer or the resurgence of the infamous homicides?
Eventually your text-heavy investigations will lead you to a crime scene investigation in which J taps his latent psychological powers. Upon touching the Eye of Providence (that pyramid-eye-thing on the back of dollar bills), he acquires the ability to see crime scenes in both the past and present. Players explore murder scenes in an attempt to pick out discrepancies between now and then. A blood-stained carpet or drawn shower curtain are the types of hints begging to be interacted with, thus leading to revelations in the case at hand.
Holding the DS sideways (like a book), you tap your way through prying chats with the game’s host of colorful characters. By focusing in on key topics within each conversation, you receive hints directing you towards hard-hitting questions. Interacting with the characters of Again feels much like reading an interactive novel, with every encounter kindling curiosity to what the next inquisition will offer. Again’s cast is as varied as it is terribly stereotypical, but the characters’ one-dimensionality plays in the game’s favor, perfectly reflecting a corny crime drama.
Following suit with the TV show framework, Again features an art-style unlike many of Cing’s past anime-influenced mystery games. Photographed actors use exaggerated, stop-motion-esque poses to convey the tone of each line. Part of Again’s charm is derived from the melodrama oozing from every pixel and moody tune.
Again is shaping up to be perfect for gamers finding themselves in limbo when trying to decide whether to reach for their DS or a book. From what I played of the game, it’s not so much the story itself that innovates as the way it’s delivered. Come 2010, DS owners with a penchant for sleuthing shouldn’t let Cing’s latest case go cold.