“Everyone just happens to die in my stories” – Danganronpa Creator Talks ‘Master Detective Archives: Rain Code’

Master Detective Archie's Art of the Rain Code
Image: Spike Chunsoft

One of the biggest surprises and standouts during September 13 Nintendo Direct was revealed Master Detective Archives: Rain CodeA brand new mystery game from Kazutaka Kodaka, the creators of danganronpa Chain.

Set in a rainy city filled with bright lights, and embracing a more dark fantasy style than the pink blood-splattered school halls of Kodaka’s previous series, Rain Code marks Kodaka’s first foray into full 3D and her Spike reconnects with Chunsoft and many more. Beloved, the team behind over-the-top secret games.

After creating To Kyo Games in 2017, Kodaka helped produce, publish, and support other games – such as the FMV title. death is true And end of the world club — so Rain Code marks his return as the main scenario writer.

We had a chance to talk with Kodaka-san and Spike Chunsoft about this upcoming mystery game, their influences, and how their past work inspired them.

Nintendo Life: Master Detective Archives: Rain Code has been described as a “lucid-noir adventure game”. Can you tell us a little bit about what this means, and what makes it different from your previous games?

Alex Flagg, Localization Producer: The “obvious-noir” part, in particular, is a play on the words of the idea that it is a noir-type detective story, as well as elements of the main character who has amnesia and is thus entirely is not clear from. And this word also has another meaning which is related to the lights and lights of the city. Neon, in particular, is also a large element used in the game’s world-building and game environments. So “lucid-noir” is a little bit of a combination of ideas that we thought sounded cool.

Kazutaka Kodaka, Scenario Writer: The different thing about Rain Code is that in my previous work I had 2D graphics, but this time it’s 3D. With this version, we are hoping to reach out to a wider audience, so that more people can play the game.

In the game Yuma and the Shinigami have a kind of friend cop team that comes as a pair, whereas with most Danganronpa games you have a bigger cast. Did you face any challenges focusing on one pair of characters?

mud: They are a pair, but there are other spies who will appear with special abilities. There’s a lot of interaction with other characters, so it’s not a huge difference from previous games.

I feel really lucky that everyone finds [Danganronpa] Interesting… it allows me to work on a large project like Rain Code.

So are there any moments where you might have to work with or join another detective?

mud: Yes, Yuma and the other spies work together, and they clash with other spies, which you’ll also see in the game.

As with Master Labyrinths, they seem like a very appealing way of solving mysteries within the Rain Code, but there are some similarities with the Rebuttal Showdown minigame from Danganronpa. How do you replace the interactive mystery solving in this game?

mud: It is really difficult to explain it in words. *laughs*

Something that we have to experience for ourselves, then!

mud: With Danganronpa, it is always in the class trial where decisions are made. In Mystery Labyrinths, these are the places where you solve mysteries, and as you get closer to the truth, the scenery and setting will change, and that’s what we wanted to show.

In Mystery Labyrinths, the general rules don’t apply, so a lot of things can happen, like when you solve the mystery the whole thing can change so you can see different environments.

it’s like it’s Alice in WonderlandAnd the mix of ‘me’ and Alice in Wonderland is what you can expect in this game.

I was actually going to ask about it! I have read interviews where you said that you are inspired by Tim Burton’s work. Is his version of Alice in Wonderland one of those inspirations or are there other aspects of Burton’s work that influenced Rain Code?

mud: There’s Gotham City, as well as the aesthetic that I’m inspired by.

A slightly more broad question for you: What do you think this brings you back to the murder-mystery genre, and how do you come up with ideas to change the formula every time?

I thought the wet raincoat image would be really cool

mud: Murder mystery is very popular in Japan! I think detective crime is interesting and it has an interesting culture. I want to show different aspects to the world using this type of game.

Going back to Alice in Wonderland/Tim Burton’s inspirations, Rain Code (compared to Danganronpa and World’s End Club) feels more dark, urban fantasy. Does that change in style give you a lot of freedom, or do you find it more difficult?

mud: It gives me more freedom, but fantasy elements like the Shinigami being able to use special abilities that other characters have helped when writing scenarios.

So do those special abilities come in handy during investigation or are they only available in Mystery Labyrinths?

mud: The Shinigami, which you saw in the trailer, have their abilities not really known to other people in the world, so no one believes in their abilities. In the Rain Code world, master spies have an ability like the one you mentioned, and it’s a known thing.

The main character, Yuma, lacks abilities, but together with the Shinigami, he becomes a spy apprentice. While investigating, Yuma and the other master detectives will try to work together to solve a murder or mystery, using their abilities. Detective abilities specialize in investigating incidents.

Focusing on Yuma, who is a trainee detective, he is at the beginning of his career in his story or Rain Code. What do you think attracts you to these characters who, on the surface, seem too ordinary or like an underdog who rises up in the end?

mud: I want to make a hero that is as plain as possible so that the players can also empathize with that character. Yuma has memory loss, so it’s another way players can empathize (since they’re tracing the events of the game and the characters at the same time as she is).

It’s similar to some of the other characters (Makoto Negi from Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc, for example), so I imagine people would connect with Yuma as well.

mud: I agree!

Touching on Danganronpa, RAIN CODE sees you reuniting with some of the developers (artists, musicians, writers) of the Danganronpa series. How was working with them again and did you change your approach to Rain Code?

It’s like it’s Alice in Wonderland, and it has the mix of ‘me’ and Alice in Wonderland that you might expect in this game.

mud: This project started when I was at Spike Chunsoft about five years ago. Spike Chunsoft helped develop Rain Code, and I didn’t use 3D when I was working on Danganronpa, while the Spike Chunsoft development team worked on Tangent-related titles and he supervised 3D was. This time, I was able to work with this team and that’s how we were able to incorporate the 3D part. It’s a great time.

it really is! It’s great to see you all together again. When working with a team, did you find any challenges in working with 3D? You had 3D backgrounds in Dangranronpa, 3D character models in World’s End Club and FMV for Death Comes True, what different challenges did you experience in full 3D?

mud: This time, I didn’t set the city to a country that exists. We had to build a new city from the beginning, so it was an experience for me! But I found it very interesting.

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

mud: To start, I wanted to conceptualize with the characters as detectives. And when I thought of spies, I never thought of anywhere that bright or flashy! I thought of a city like London which was a cloud and all that. I thought it would be better with spies.

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

Master Detective Archies Rain Code
Teaser art for the game from 2018. , Image: Spike Chunsoft

Then I thought of a town where people wear raincoats – not codes, coats *laughs* – and I thought the image of a wet raincoat would be really cool for a spy game. So we first came up with a visual idea for the whole setting of the city. So there’s a little bit of Asia, a little bit of Japan’s influence in the city. There are red bricks too, and it probably reminds you of London.

Definitely! And rain too. It rains a lot in England.

mud: *laughs*

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

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

mud: I didn’t write the scenarios directly or direct on those titles, so this is actually the first game since Dunganronpa where I’m writing and directing the scenarios. So it’s been a long time since I wrote all these words.

Since Danganronpa, I’ve been publishing a lot of video games. It’s been five years, so I had a lot of emotions to include in this project.

I can imagine! Why do you think Danganronpa has resonated with so many people not only in Japan, but around the world, and what do you hope people get from RAIN CODE?

Photo of Kazutaka Kodaka provided by Spike Chunsoft
Kazutaka Kodaka, Scenario Writer at Master Detective Archives: Rain Code – Image: Spike Chunsoft

mud: When I was working on Dungarnopa, there were no plans to release the game overseas, so I’m really happy. I really don’t know why it was so well received or why everyone seems to love it! But I feel really lucky that everyone finds it interesting and valid that it allows me to work on a bigger project like Rain Code. I feel lucky about it.

I’m glad that everyone around the world gets to play this game, but I don’t necessarily target a foreign audience. I really value the user experience, because I am the player, so this is the thing that I value the most.

This is a great way to put it. Danganronpa has some really over-the-top characters and unusual talents. Do you have a favorite character that you enjoy writing about?

mud: It depends on where I am, or what point I am at while writing. But even if it’s a sub-character, I think “Oh, what if it’s the main character? Can I write a story for them?” This is what I think of when I write a story.

When I’m working on character profiles, I think every character gets a main story, and that’s a main character. That’s how I write every character.

I think that’s why people really connect to them and enjoy the characters because they just stick to that. This is a really cool way to put it. Finally, have you ever considered writing something that doesn’t involve murder or crime, or do you have a perfect story you’d like to write?

mud: Oh yes, in my stories everyone dies… *laughs*

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

We would like to thank Kodaka-san and Spike Chunsoft for taking the time to speak with us. Master Detective Archives: Rain Code releases on Switch in the spring of 2023.

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