There are a lot of things that Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories has going for it. It’s a game that, after plenty of hardships, actually managed to actually exist. It lets you shape your character by offering multiple responses to situations and citizens along the way. It tries to show what the aftermath of unimaginable earthquakes could be like, while still sometimes being silly. But while it does try a lot of things, there are some serious issues with the game. In particular, there are a lot of times when the Disaster Report 4 Switch version can feel like a real mess.
I first realized things weren’t going to go so well immediately after the character creation process. It happened even before the opening moments when the earthquake hits and we have that very distinct and disjointed jump between actual gameplay and a cutscene. When I was setting my heroine up, I thought I was choosing a natural auburn hair color. However, due to lighting effects and various visual discrepancies, it turned out my avatar instead had neon orange hair in the actual game.
Before I even had time to adjust to that, the Disaster Report 4 Switch port threw one issue after another at me. The text is incredibly small, especially if you are playing in handheld mode, and it is often white on grey, white, or other colored environmental backgrounds that can make it difficult to read whatever is being said. Given that this is actually more of an adventure game than a survival one, it’s not a good time. Lighting issues come into play again, with some things being very difficult to see and obscured by shadows. Adjusting the brightness helps, as does playing it docked and on a larger screen where you have even more control. But then playing around with the brightness and contrast allows you to see when the character and environmental models aren’t great.
A lot of lag can come into play in areas where a lot is happening or upon immediately loading a save in Disaster Report 4 Switch. Which isn’t great, because sometimes moving around can cause an aftershock to trigger and a whole building to collapse, which can result in your avatar dying and the player being forced to start over from an autosave point because the crashing framerate distracted you. (This happened to me multiple times, with the earliest occurring when I was trying to reunite a high school teacher with her missing students.) The game might even crash on its own, which is a thing that happened to me after finally dealing with a convenience store issue.
But while a lot of the issues I experienced could be blamed on playing a version of the game that might not be as well equipped to handle Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories like a PlayStation 4 or PC could, there are many design decisions that seem like they’d be issues on any platform. Each time your survivor ends up in an area, it is an enclosed space with no initial objectives. You have to happen upon story segments that offer some direction and propel the action along. The third-to-first-person occasional perspective shifts, say in the introductory segment or when you need to crawl through small spaces, are disorienting. Though really, any of the times you need to go into the first-person view is a showcase in how dated the game can look. It just feels dated.
The Disaster Report 4 Switch port is the sort of game where it can take a minute or so to load up, dropping you into a world where you’re immediately walking at a crawl because of an unstable frame rate. As you gain your bearings and attempt to wade through it all, an aftershock can hit, causing a building to collapse and, because the textures are so terrible and things are so, for lack of a better word, janky, you can end up dead due to there being no way to escape. There are interesting gameplay elements here, such as the opportunity to be truly good or incredibly condescending and chaotic, but this particular version makes it difficult to enjoy any of that.
Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC.