I’ve always viewed the Disaster Report series as one with a split identity. The first two games hand the player predetermined characters to play through as, and the circumstances around the disaster which also plays into its more dramatic action segments. The third game on the other hand put players into the shoes of an unnamed protagonist who could be male or female, and this marked a change in the series towards a somewhat more realistic angle. You were encouraged to make the player character your own, and Disaster Report 4 Plus follows much the same way in this regard.
In Disaster Report 4 Plus, you start off being asked how you think you would act if you ever faced a disaster. You then go through the customization section, and upon encountering the disaster, you are asked to reevaluate and think whether you’d really act the way you are.
Throughout even just the early segments of the game, you get asked again and again about who you are, how you view events, and your current motivation after encountering the disaster. However, this isn’t Catherine – there is no counter keeping track of the choices you make. It’s entirely on you to make this story matter to your created protagonist, no matter if you decide to go for a more grounded playthrough or go for all the wild choices in every matter. Personally, I found this a much better take on personalization of a playthrough, compared to Disaster Report 3 where you had a personality system where you were forced to keep choosing certain options if you wanted to keep the current personality.
In several conversations, you aren’t required to reply to the person you met. Instead, the options that appear are all in your head, asking you how you process events and interactions with these other people in the same situation you are in. Do you laugh at them for feeling down? Are you playing as that type of person? Or do you shake your head sadly, thinking that it’s too bad for them, but that it can’t be helped?
You don’t get a second chance at these conversations, but you can switch track at any time – you’re the only one keeping consistency in your actions. The freedom allows you to make up what your character is going through internally, and I find that freedom quite enjoyable. It’s not unlike when I’m playing a dungeon RPG, except… more disaster-y.
Disaster Report 4 Plus has a karma system, where certain actions like giving away your medical supplies will lead to accumulation of good karma, while bad karma can be accumulated via doing things like stealing from cash registers or treating people badly. You’d think karma would decide what ending you get, but it’s actually just a value that does nothing in practice. But it does serve as a motivator or demotivator to perhaps influence how you play, or serve as another element to your character’s made-up story.
Again, it all just feeds into the notion that Disaster Report 4 Plus wants the playable character to be you… if you want. It’s a big contrast to the first two games which were localized into English.
Disaster Report 4 Plus is available on PlayStation 4 in Japan.