Another Code: Recollection Review – IGN

I didn’t always love my time with Another Code: Recollection, but I love that it exists. Nintendo is generally conservative with its remakes, updating the graphics and controls while usually leaving gameplay and story largely unchanged. That’s not the case here, though, as developer Arc System Works took a huge swing with this dual remake, completely modernizing a pair of extremely niche puzzle adventure games with revamped exploration, a new third-person perspective, and a reworked script with decent voice acting. The developers clearly care about Another Code, and it’s awesome to see a huge publisher bring back a small series like this. But even with all of its improvements, Another Code: Recollection falls short of greatness due to lackluster puzzle design and a predictable story that leans too heavily on convenient amnesia tropes.

Another Code: Recollection is a full-blown remake of the 2005 DS game Trace Memory (now known in North America by its Japanese and European name, Another Code: Two Memories), and its Wii sequel, Another Code R: Journey Into Lost Memories, which hasn’t seen a North American release until now. This remake smartly treats these games as two halves of the same story, both following the endearing teenager Ashley Mizuki Robins as she works to uncover forgotten memories from her childhood.

Recollection tosses away the outdated top-down gameplay of the DS original and the strange point-and-click-sidescrolling hybrid of its Wii sequel, replacing both with a modern third-person perspective and fully explorable 3D areas. Think Life Is Strange but for a younger audience: You’ll listen to Ashley’s entertaining inner monologue as you walk around examining objects and locations, talking to characters along the way to learn more about the central mystery and advance the story. It even has some supernatural leanings like Life Is Strange, but its themes are aimed more toward young teenagers compared to its modern adventure game contemporaries.

I finished Another Code: Recollection’s fairly basic story in just over 13 hours, and Ashley is the key element that really makes it work. She’s extremely likable and relatable from start to finish, as she struggles to navigate complex relationships with her family while also dealing with classic teenage clichés like dreams of playing in a rock band. But she also expresses emotional maturity and compassion beyond her years with a genuine desire to take care of those around her. I rooted for her throughout the story, and I really hope we see her in a brand new adventure in the future.

Ashley is the key element that really makes it work.

While Ashley soars, much of the overall mystery around her falls flat. There are only a couple meaningful characters in Two Memories’ story, leading to a very predictable outcome that’s heavily foreshadowed the whole way through. Journey Into Lost Memories somewhat avoids this issue thanks to a much larger cast of characters — many of whom have enjoyable side stories that directly weave into the overall plot — but both halves still rely too heavily on tired amnesia tropes.

Most revelations take place when Ashley or another character simply happens to remember something at a convenient time, usually triggered upon entering a new location. Flashbacks occur constantly, and by the end I was exhausted by this haphazard method of storytelling, especially when the twists it’s building to were often unsurprising. The reworked ending of Journey Into Lost Memories is at least a highlight, giving Ashley’s story a stronger, warmer, more emotionally resonant sendoff, but the overall tale seems better suited for a newer audience that hasn’t experienced the twists and turns of every Ace Attorney, Professor Layton, and Life Is Strange like me.

Where Another Code: Recollection really falls short, however, is in its puzzle design. The puzzles have been completely reworked for this remake, and I was hoping for some solid brainteasers that made use of the atmospheric environments in interesting ways. But unfortunately, puzzles feel like a bit of an afterthought here. They come in a handful of varieties, but none of them are particularly exciting. There are scavenger hunts where I had to search around an area for some item I needed to progress, a few puzzles where I had to take a photo and bring it to the right location, and a lot of quick time events where you follow button prompts that appear on Ashley’s Switch-shaped gadget. There are also a couple of motion control puzzles where the gyro controls didn’t work as well as I would’ve liked them to, but thankfully those are few and far between. Puzzles feel more like fetch quests or checklists than actual challenges, which was disappointing, but they are at least all short enough that I was never stuck on their monotony for long.

What makes the underwhelming puzzles even more of a missed opportunity is the fantastic new built-in hint system. You can turn hints on or off at any time in the settings, which is great for folks who just want to bypass the puzzles completely. There are three steps to the hint system: a generic hint, a detailed hint, and finally the puzzle solution. I could choose which of these three hints I wanted to see, giving me the exact amount of help I wanted. There’s also an optional navigation tool that displays an arrow telling you exactly where to go next. But such a great hint system feels wasted when the puzzles are so basic.

Fortunately, Another Code: Recollection is about soaking up the excellent vibes and atmosphere as much as it is about the story or the puzzles. Two Memories’ mysterious mansion is begging to be explored, and Journey Into Lost Memories’ Lake Juliet instantly took me back to summer camp as a kid. I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to that place and those characters when the journey came to an end, as it perfectly captured the feeling of a chapter of childhood coming to a close.

Recollection is also lifted somewhat by its presentation. Conversations are engaging thanks to their unique comic book panel style, most scenes are well voice acted with your choice of English or Japanese dubs, and the piano-filled soundtrack is easy on the ears. Some environments could benefit from a bit more detail, but the cutscenes that play during important story moments almost always look very nice. The new art style also captures the tone of the characters and story very well, and it was exciting to see these long overlooked games remade with such a high level of care.

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