Jan 27

Weekly Update #495: The Differences Between SHINRAI & GENBA no Kizuna

Given that we’re slowly edging closer towards the completion of GENBA no Kizuna, I thought that, for today’s topic, I’d like to talk a bit more about what you can actually expect from our next murder mystery and how exactly it compares to SHINRAI. Because, even though both projects do have a lot of similarities, they are also very different from one another.

So, without further ado, let’s delve right into how and why that is!

The Approach

First of all, I should probably mention that, going into this project, my whole mindset was to basically do the exact opposite of what I did in SHINRAI (not in all but certainly many regards). I’m just not really a fan of doing the same thing twice and this approach made it all the more exciting for myself to work on this project. So, for example, one major difference now is that, rather than the detective arriving before any crime has occurred and experiencing the killings unfold around them, the crime has already taken place when our protagonist arrives at the scene in the prologue.

This decision was also partially influenced by some of the feedback we’ve gotten regarding SHINRAI. The slow beginning was something that bothered a lot of players, so I thought: why not throw them right into the mystery this time around?

Then we have the main character himself. Previously, it was a calm and composed, always rationally thinking teenage girl with zero experience as a detective. This time, we’ve got a nervous wreck of a male adult police officer, who panics easily.

These are just two non-spoilery examples that will be clear right from the get-go, but there are a lot more examples of me going in the opposite direction of what I did before, even when it comes to the handling of the mystery itself.

The Mystery

SHINRAI was essentially “mystery first, characters second”. At least in my mind, it was primarily about the mystery itself, while most characters where just there to be a part of it. Of course, this also resulted in some player disappointment, since some would’ve liked to see deeper characterization and such. And GENBA will hopefully please those people.

After all, our new project is “characters first, mystery second”, which I think should already be clear through the title itself.
GENBA no Kizuna” can either be interpreted as “bonds of the crime scene” or “Genba‘s bonds”, with “Genba” being the name of our main character. So yes, this time, it’s really a lot more about the characters, while the mystery primarily serves as a vehicle for them to have their individual arcs developed.

The members of the investigation team all have their personal struggles that need to be overcome in order to effectively work together, while the group of suspects care so much about one another that each of them would do anything in their might to protect the others. That’s, at least in my eyes, what GENBA really is about.

Now, I don’t want to say that the mystery was an afterthought or anything. I do still hope that players will enjoy trying to unravel it, because I did spend an insane amount of time on working out its details. But I do think it’s going to be significantly easier to solve than the mystery presented in SHINRAI. Which, in a sense, is kind of a given. I mean, in SHINRAI, our detective was a teenage girl who had never solved a case before. In GENBA, you have an actual investigation team tackling the case, including specialists like a medical examiner and an actual crime scene technician. I did try to give myself some leeway by having most of them be rather inexperienced rookies. You know, so that they can mess up without it seeming too outrageous. But the fact remains that, even if they’ve never worked on a real murder case before, they all still went through proper training unlike Raiko did.

And then there are also some of the technological aspects, of course. The investigation team is much better equipped than Raiko was. She couldn’t search for trace evidence like fingerprints or anything of the sort, but the police obviously can and therefore have a much bigger pool of potential clues and evidence at their disposal. So just by the nature of GENBA‘s mystery being investigated by the actual police, I think it automatically decreases its difficulty.

The Vibe

Another thing that’s going to be very different is the whole vibe of the game. Many SHINRAI reviews have brought up Agatha Christie comparisons and it makes sense. Her work was a major inspiration, along with Meitantei Conan. Back when I wrote SHINRAI, I wanted to do a classic type of mystery like that. And while there already was an Ace Attorney influence as well, it mainly affected the interactive segments, such as the evidence presentation system.

GENBA on the other hand goes a lot more into an Ace Attorney direction in general. So if you were hoping to get another Christie-style mystery to solve, I’m sad to say that you won’t get that here. I’ve also upped the craziness of everything quite a bit, with some characters having more outlandish personalities than anything seen in SHINRAI and even parts of the mystery being pretty whack.

But what can I say? I really wanted to do one of those “crazy contraption” type thingies, haha.

Anyway, all of this does result in quite a different overall feel, I think. While GENBA definitely does have its serious and darker moments, I also wanted it to be a lot of fun, so the comedic aspects have been dialed up a notch, too. I guess you could say that, given my worries regarding the mystery maybe being too easy, I at least wanted to make the whole process of investigating a lot more engaging and fun.


Now, if you’d ask me what I hope players will feel when they finish the game… well, it was always super neat to hear SHINRAI players say that they were stumped and wowed by the mystery. But when it comes to GENBA, I mainly hope that they’ll talk about how fun it was to investigate and how much they liked the characters. That’s really my main goal here. And precisely because it’s all so different from our previous project, I decided to label this as a “spin-off” title. With the actual SHINRAI sequel, you will get something much more akin to SHINRAI again. But with GENBA, I wanted to do something very different.

But despite all the differences, there are, of course, still a lot of commonalities between both projects, so I really hope that everyone who enjoyed SHINRAI will enjoy GENBA as well. Sometimes, I get really worried about that, but as I said before, as a creator, I also don’t feel like doing the exact same thing twice. I want to spice things up for myself. Which is also part of the reason why the overall story I want to tell through these VNs will eventually diverge into non-murder mystery territory. There will always be mysteries to solve for Raiko and Co., but they won’t always revolve around death, which is also something I’m worried about how fans will react to.

But that will be a topic for another time in the future! For now, I’ve still got GENBA to worry about, so while I’ll get back to work on it now, I hope that you’ll thoroughly enjoy the rest of your weekend! Until next Saturday, take care :3