Video Game / Disaster Report
Disaster Report is a 2002 survival "horror" game for the PlayStation 2
, the beginning of a series known in Japan as Zettai Zetsumei Toshi
(The Desperated City
). It's unique in that it nixes the monsters and blood for an earthquake scenario, thus, helping establish the Disaster Survival subgenre. The game has several quirks that make it seem more like an experimental PS1 game than a typical PS2 title of the time. The thing just screams budget, with cheap sound effects, unintentionally campy voice acting, mediocre graphics, etc. Also had an amount of westernization and cultural censorship that seems strange by today's standards, for example, a handful of characters had their hair died blond for the sole purpose of looking white.
The story concerns Keith Helm, a newspaper reporter who while commuting to work on Stiver Island, a deadly Earthquake hits. Stranded on the island, he teams up with a girl and together they explore the wreckage to find supplies and a way to be rescued. Over the course of the game, it is revealed that not everything is the way it seems.
The gameplay is survival horror fare, albeit with a heavy emphasis on exploration and survival instead of horror; there are no zombies to kill, no monsters around the next corner, and you never even find a weapon, much less have the ability to fight. Instead, you're faced with the prospect of increasingly dangerous situations, like being trapped on a suspension bridge that's crumbling, escaping from a waterfront district that's rapidly becoming an underwater
district, and more. A thirst meter acts as the primary focus of survival, requiring replenishment from clean water supplies. The meter drains based on physical activity (if you run with a heavy backpack on, jump around, climb, sprint instead of jog, and so on, it drains faster). There's also a health meter, depleted from injury and dangerous activity, that can only be replenished with juice or the exceedingly rare first aid kits. Various gear can be found that provides benefits, like a helmet that protects against falling debris or a pair of gloves that making climbing easier. Puzzles are generally disguised lock and key affairs, and basic platforming is required to progress. The game also has a simple item assembly system which allows you to make more advanced items like a lamp helmet or a water purifier.
The game provides a surprising amount of depth and replayability despite the (many) obvious flaws. The game had enough of a cult following to warrant 3 sequels. Unfortunately only the second made it to the states and Europe in the form of Raw Danger
; the third was confined only to Japan
, and the fourth was flat-out canceled due to the earthquake in Japan. However, the series' director's new company, Granzella Inc., managed to acquire the intellectual property from Irem and re-released both Disaster Report
and Raw Danger
as PS2 Classics on PlayStation 3
, and work on the canceled sequel was restarted for the PlayStation 4
This series provides examples of:
- Always Close: Averted, usually. In most cases you have a certain amount of time to escape a dangerous situation, and taking too long will result in your death. There is the occasional Game Setpiece, though, such as climbing a ladder at the beginning seconds before the platform you were just on goes falling into the sea.
- Book Ends: "July, 2012. Sunny. I'm heading towards Stiver Island to start my new job as a reporter."
- "July, 2012. Rainy. Stiver Island just disappeared outside my window."
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: the ending reveals that the artificial island is being subjected to massive earthquakes and sinking due to the island's creator sinking it in an act of revenge against the people that wronged him. However, the player discovers and points out that the people he sought revenge against were framed in an attempt to make him do exactly what he did, prompting a Taking You with Me towards the true Big Bad.
- Fight to Survive: The environment itself is your enemy and often the buildings you're in will collapse even as you pass through them.
- Hammerspace: Averted. Your backpack can only hold so much, and you will inevitably have to make a decision as to whether that extra water bottle or that crowbar will be more useful to you.
- Holler Button
- Jerkass: Greg. He almost breathes this trope; when Keith and Karen first meet him, he says that there's someone in need of help. He guides them to the area he was in, and he's asked where the guy in need is. He gives them the "you're looking right at him" line, revealing that he needs their help. When he's in the middle of his interview with Terry Stiver, he's clearly not happy with them inadvertently interrupting it.
- Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: Greg - in the canon ending/s, Ending 1 and 2, he takes a bullet for Karen/Kelly when the Sniper Goon attempts to shoot her. Plus, the fact that he makes sure that Keith, Karen and Kelly are with him and that the girls need someone with them for protection shows his warm side.
- Large Ham: Albert Simms, the main antagonist. Even his chuckling his hammy. Combine it with his funny facial expressions when he's angry, it's pretty amusing.
- Multiple Endings: Of the "multiple paths" variant. No matter which path you take, you will eventually uncover the conspiracy at the heart of the earthquake. However, how you get there, who you get there with, and who survives are all dependent on your actions.
- Race Lift: The very Japanese-looking cast had their hair recolored (mostly blond) to give them a more Caucasian appearance.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: You're offered an opportunity to get off the island twice before the true ending of the game. In both cases, doing so means that you're leaving someone else behind to fend for themselves, with the implication that they will not be able to do so and will die. These endings count as successfully completing the game.
- Unexpected Genre Change: About three-quarters of the way through the game, the destruction of the island takes a backseat as two men, armed with a rocket launcher and sniper rifle, try very hard to kill you, thanks to you having uncovered the conspiracy. There's also several shorter stealth sequences in the game.
- Upgradeable Equipment: You start the game with a small emergency first-aid backpack, and can find other, bigger backpacks as you progress through the game. Bigger backpacks hold more stuff, but drain your thirst meter faster. You're never required to take a larger backpack, and it's possible to finish the game with the small emergency backpack.
- Vendor Trash: Every item you can pick up in the game is useful. However, it's possible to pick up items that were useful earlier, and now have no purpose at all, or items that haven't been useful, and won't be for a very long time. They exist only to take up space in your backpack.