Chain: The Lost Footprints Review
Up until recently with the release of Kara no Shoujo, Zyx’s Chain: The Lost Footprints was the most recent mystery themed eroge to come out and that was back on July 7, 2002 and it thankfully set a good standard for those of us who begged both JAST and MG for a new mystery themed game. I’ll admit that when I first heard about this game, I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to try it considering it told a linear story and I was used to eroge with diverse plots only. Fortunately I decided to give it a try and ended up playing one of my favorites from JAST’s library, as I found the story so engaging I couldn’t believe this game was just 10 hours long.
Pros: Excellent story, good characters, very good artwork, good music and voice acting.
Cons: You might be able to figure out who the killer is based on the character portrait, a few heroines could have used more screen time, the investigation system could have used more polish.
WTF?!: Why is one side character called Taku in the English text when his name is obviously Suguru? Also (scroll down a bit to see) am I the only who thinks he looks like an anime version of James Woods?
Chain’s story focuses on private detective Takeshi Shinonome and his partner Hitomi Makabe as what starts out as an investigation for a friend into a possible affair leads the two into a case involving a drug ring and a serial killer targeting anyone who seems to be connected to said ring.
Despite the fact that it has a linear story with only one ending, Chain tells its story well. The story is never slow and succeeds almost at the start at drawing you in with the initial mystery which is interesting not only because of the investigation but also with the relationship Takeshi develops with the characters introduced for this initial arc. From there the story really builds up as soon after Takeshi and Hitomi begin looking into a case involving a new kind of drug the murder of a potential witness occurs. The writer really did a good job in telling this story since the suspense that builds up as more details are revealed about both cases, revealing how they’re tied together, all pays off in a very exciting climax and all together satisfying resolution. Another thing this story does right is in its presentation of some of the dramatic and even tragic events that occur throughout the course of the story, it manages to tell a mostly subtle anti-drug message by pretty much letting the events speak for themselves rather than having characters just outright declare the message and beat you over the head with it. There are a couple points of non-subtlety though (but that could just be the translators putting that in)…
Another area the story succeeds in is its characters. For starters, Takeshi is a pretty likable protagonist and is a bit of a breath of fresh air considering he’s a seasoned detective and subsequently a mature adult, he’s quite the change from your typical adolescent protagonist of most eroge. Hitomi makes for a good heroine as the game portrays her as a competent and professional working woman and a good partner for Takeshi. The relationship that develops between the two from partners to finally lovers is well told and very believable. The other heroines are also good characters even if they don’t have as big a role as Hitomi in the plot as they interact with and relate to Takeshi really well in their respective scenes from Marie’s recovered relationship with Takeshi which brings to mind wonderings of what could have been to the close friendship between Akira and Takeshi that occasionally becomes intimate. Now in case you’re curious, yes Takeshi does get intimate with a number of the heroines but in my opinion it doesn’t cheapen any of the relationships he develops considering that enough material is given to develop each relationship, though I will admit that I wish a few of the heroines like Ayumu and Mayuki had more screen time to show a bit more of their relationship with Takeshi. Finally the side characters are also pretty good in the few scenes they have, especially Ayumu’s friends since they come off as likable characters and actually have minor roles in the plot.
Now despite my praise, this game is not without its flaws. As I said before, a few of the heroines could have used a bit more screen time as could some of the minor characters, so the main story flaw is that it could have been maybe an hour longer.
The second flaw of this game comes in its investigation segments; they’re just too easy. There’s no way to fail, and what you need to look at and observe is obvious plus more often than not, the alternative conclusions are hilariously wrong (enough that they’re kinda worth clicking on just to read since there’s no penalty for picking the wrong choice). It would have been nice if maybe there was more to it than simply clicking the obvious choice such as examining different evidence and coming across different combinations to solve the investigation.
In the area of presentation, Chain has quite a bit going for it considering it’s done by Masami Obari, who did the artwork for the Fatal Fury OVAs. People do criticize his artwork for the ZyX games, saying that the characters look to much alike, but in this case I can say that’s an exception. Work was obviously put into designing the characters to give each one their own unique look and I honestly think this is his best artwork since the Fatal Fury OVAs. There is a bit of a double edged sword in that, however, considering that you might be able to guess the killer’s identity based on the character portrait they show. In the area of music, the game also does well capturing the atmosphere of each scene correctly, especially when things get suspenseful. The voice acting is also well done, especially considering everyone is voiced, even Takeshi, though that only happens in brief scenes where you’re playing from Hitomi’s perspective.
As for the ero scenes, they’re all pretty good in terms of art and voice acting and they all fit pretty well into the story. There is one scene that feels a little unnecessary, but it’s also kind of forgettable.
*Characters (click here for profile pictures follows the descriptions follow that order, warning NSFW images (note: if you get a “Forbidden” message in your window try refreshing, but if that doesn’t work tell me in the comments and I’ll see what I can do)
A private investigator who started Shinonome Investigations after the death of his teacher and has become a renowned investigator over the years.
Takeshi’s assistant who supports him in numerous areas of the job. While their relationship is a friendly and professional one, Hitomi’s high regard for Takeshi shows obvious signs of her attraction to him.
A local police detective and the daughter of Takeshi’s late teacher, making her a close friend of his. Aside from being Takeshi’s drinking companion, she also provides him with valuable information pertaining to cases.
The owner of the bar Takeshi frequents; the two have known each other for years as they grew up together. Has been like a younger sister to Takeshi.
Takeshi’s first client if the game who comes to him to investigate the possibility of her husband’s infidelity. Was a schoolmate of Takeshi’s when they were in high school. Despite her coming off as sad and lonely now, Takeshi remembers her having a more bright and cheerful personality back then.
Marie’s younger sister who Takeshi comes across at the beginning of the game. The daughter of an influential politician, Ayumu cares deeply for her sister and tends to put up a bright front for her.
A hostess for the club Moon Chateau who Takeshi meets during an investigation.
Classmate and friend of Ayumu’s.
*Only doing profiles in this case because JAST doesn’t have one for this game.
Chain: The Lost Footprints is an excellent little mystery themed eroge that tells a good story with memorable and likable characters and is well worth the price $19.95. Yes the story it tells is linear, but it’s still a good story that goes to show that even a game with a linear story can be good.
Final Score: 8/10 Awesome
Author Recommendation: Buy it now.