Flower Sun and Rain takes place between the 25th ward and the first Silver Case game. It is the second game developed by Suda51 and is a port from the PS2 version, which is also a Japanese exclusive but was released for western audiences. The story focuses on Sumio Mondo who works as a searcher, someone who travels looking for lost things and people. He visits the Micronesian island of Lopass where he is tasked to find and disarm a bomb this is set to blow up an aircraft. During his stay, he learns about why he is really here, and how the strange events that occur are somehow connected to him and his past. Sumio must figure out the mystery of the island and also defuse the bomb in time before everyone on the plane dies.
It contains many of the story themes one would expect from a Suda51 game such as the concept and morality of crime and characters being put in bizarre situations. The dialogue is cluttered and characters often talk in circles and the things they say are often nonsensical. The dialogue often drags out for a while before the characters get to the point. Often you will hear stuff unrelated to the main story that has no purpose at all in your main objectives. There is often 4th wall breaks and the game has a bizarre sense of humor but it is hard to define the overall tone of the game as to whether it is dark, serious or lighthearted.
The plot sometime wanders and some parts of the story goes off track. There are too many plot twists and it is confusing especially when some things are not explained. In addition, the slow pace bogs the game down and things crawl along. Characters pop in and out with very little explanation and are dropped and never to be mentioned again. Characters can sometimes point out the obvious even when you already know it. There is a lot idiotic stuff characters do in this game. One instance is Sumio going after a kid just because he accidentally threw a soccer ball at Sumio and justifies the attack stating that evil doers will get hurt. Sumio also steals for amusement. Despite his flaws, Sumio sees himself as a saviour even if he does more harm than good.
The antagonist of the story is virtually non existent. There is supposed to be a terrorist plotting an attack on the airport but there is hardly any information given about the rumored terrorist and you think it would be either Stephen or Sundance Shot but its neither of them.
Each day there are new missing objects scattered all over the place for you to find in the DS version. The game uses the DS dual screens for the puzzle solving aspect. Puzzles solutions are often finding the right math answer where you have to enter the right code that’s about 4 digits in most cases. As you do solve puzzles you can explore the island as you progress through the game. The game has an in game pedometer that counts the steps you take. The more you walk, the more you can use the search system to unlock items that are hidden across the island.
There was a heavy amount of padding and filler in this game. The missions can either be a wild goose chase leading to nowhere or have you going around in circles backtracking from place to place.Sumio’s slow pace adds to the overall length of the game. The draw distance was not good either as you can barely see what’s ahead of you especially at night time.
There is no fast travel, you have to keep on climbing up and down the stairs and deal with loading times every few seconds. Sometimes in certain areas due how dense it is, slowdown can occur very often. Framerate tends to be jittery and stiff. Occasionally, the text box being became very blurry due to a glitch.
The audio is bad and the dialogue boxes parts of the game uses static audio and it sounds a lot like mumbling as the game 0 voice acting. The music was very bad due to the audio.
The visuals were static and blurry and the textures were very low res and messy even for a game released in 2008 and for one on the DS. Even Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days from 2009, and Trace Memory from 2005 had way better graphics and puzzle gameplay than this game.
The camera felt uncomfortable and the location felt very cramped. The cutscenes were also unskippable and they dragged out for a while. Missions almost open up the same way; Sumio wakes up the manager Edo tells him breakfast is ready, he drinks his tea and just goes about his day. The cutscenes almost ends in the same way with a dragged out conversation and an airplane exploding. One of the worst offenders is when before a puzzle starts, Sumio goes through a lenghty monologue repeating the same words over and over again and not getting to the point before the puzzle starts.
The opening cutscene in the game dragged out for quite a while and it was really just a mixture of various different sample videos and images you can get for free online and mixed in together to make it look “cool”. The graphics are terrible and everything looks outdated. It is very polygonal and the environments were not given any details.
The art direction is the same as in The Silver Case and The 25th Ward Silver Case but here its botched really badly in the DS port. Sometimes you cannot tell if it is a clue or an important part to progress the current story you are in. The animation was stiff and choppy even for DS standards. The character designs and layouts were poor as they are given polygonal shapes and dimensions.
The characters are not great either. Sumio Mondo was flat and had a poor personality. He can be very gullible and egotistical. He is extremely reliant on the guidebook just to get around and solving puzzles instead of thinking critically and looking for solutions. The other characters were also just one dimensional and uninteresting.
The world design of the game is also really bad. It can take a long time to reach your destination. The rooms in the hotel look alike and the special effects were also cheap looking. It was glitchy and buggy the textbox I saw one instance was pretty blurry and I could barely make out on what to do next.
There is no clear direction on where to go next so you have to pay close attention to the dialogue. Aimlessly wandering around in this game is very prevalent as you are often given very vague clues on what to do next. Backtracking is also another problem as you are going to be going back and forth.
The puzzles are heavily repeated in the game. You cannot fail, if you fail a puzzle you are given countless options to try again and there is no game over. All you had to do was to use Catherine and connect a jack to the object or person to solve the mystery enter the right code and that’s it. Each jack has a different color depending on what object or person it is being used on.
You are given a guidebook with each page being related to the part of the main chapter in the game. You can write down memos and draw on it. You can go through the character profiles and occasionally play as different characters at certain points of the game, but again, they are not any different to Sumio Mondo’s playstyle. Occasionally you see a woman named Toriko Kusabi looking for her pink crocodile Cristina. She barely appears in the game and there is not much to know about her apart from she is the daughter of one of the characters in the Silver Case series Tetsuguro Kusabi.
Things are highlighted in the game but sometimes this does not happen. Whenever it is time to solve a puzzle, Sumio begins his unskippable lengthy monologue and this is extremely annoying. One of the names of the mission “Air” is repeated twice in the game and it should have been two different names to separate them.
There are some extra content like new costumes. One costume is based off Travis Touchdown’s outfit but it was poorly designed and blurry. You can also replay missions just to find stuff you may have missed. While the controls were fully responsive, Sumio for some reason could not walk in a straight line.
This is a really bad port to the DS and is one of the most abysmal products I have reviewed. Gameplay was repetitive and boring. The main character was annoying and lacked any personality. There is nothing to like in this game.
It gets 1 star out of 5.
The Silver Case series is one of the most convoluted and messy in terms of gameplay, story and characters I have ever played. I don’t see myself playing or replaying any other games related to the franchise.