REVIEW - Another Code: Recollection is a touching trip down memory lane

"I will never forget that I loved you deeply."

28 January 2024
by zjmaster 5
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Do you remember?

Memories are precious; they help us define what to do, who we are, what we want… Another Code: Recollection brings to the Nintendo Switch two games that focus on the value of memories and that, after completion, will leave any player full of everlasting, and touching, albeit slightly poignant, feelings.

An unexpected letter is the beginning of a life changing adventure for Ashley... and for us.
An unexpected letter is the beginning of a life changing adventure for Ashley... and for us.

The adventure starts when Ashley Mizuki Robbins receives a letter, supposedly from his deceased father, saying that he wants to meet her on her 14th birthday on Blood Edward Island. Along with the letter, she received an electronic device called DAS, which looks like a Nintendo Switch. Ashley then explores the island, solving multiple puzzles and uncovering various mysteries, including the whereabouts of her father.

D is a fantastic character.
D is a fantastic character.

Very quickly, Ashley befriends another character, D, who is also looking to know more about his past and recover his memories. Hence we are introduced to the main theme of this game: memories.

The past is so important for the present.
The past is so important for the present.

A masterpiece in storytelling like the movie “Up”, from Pixar, using visual cues along its narrative, focuses on the very crucial topic of letting go of the past and creating new memories. In a similar vein, an equally important part of life is understanding the past and using those memories to shape our present. Another Code’s biggest strength lies in how, through various means, presents us with multiple scenarios and questions that challenge our views and ideas. Recollection is a game that makes us think and reflect, and for that I give it a high praise.

Love is a powerful feeling, perhaps the most powerful of them all...
Love is a powerful feeling, perhaps the most powerful of them all...

Ashley’s exploration of the island brings us multiples venues of seeing the past; be it through letters, unfinished paintings, newspaper clippings, or even the architecture itself of the mansion of the Edward family. Ashley’s own fears and hesitations after seeing her reality changed in the blink of an eye when receiving a letter from the person she less expected, can be seen mirrored in many characters who lived in the Edward state and that helps Ashley as much as it would help us in similar situations.

Having fear is normal, overcoming it is what makes us brave.
Having fear is normal, overcoming it is what makes us brave.

In fact, Ashley is an fantastically well written character that we can easily identify with, even if we haven’t gone through the exact same scenario, because we all have been faced with fears, confusion, doubt, or anger. Ashley reacts like many of us would and then she shows the courage and will that we should all strive for when confronted with problems.

Facing problems is easier with the help of a friend.
Facing problems is easier with the help of a friend.

The difficulty of facing some of the truths that Ashely encounters doesn’t translate at all to the puzzles and I believe that is a good aspect of the game. Puzzles are not very complicated and the hint and navigation system that the game provides allows anyone, regardless of their gaming experience, to pick the game up and enjoy its great storytelling. In fact, if the first hint is not enough, you can ask for more so that you are never stuck without knowing what to do. Experienced adventurers will disregard this feature, but newer players will be thankful.

The game is fully accessible for any level of experience.
The game is fully accessible for any level of experience.

Our journey in Blood Edward Island wraps up relatively quickly, but then we start a new adventure, two years later, with Ashley exploring Lake Juliet while trying to uncover the reasons behind her mother’s death thirteen years ago.

Ashley's mother, Sayoko.
Ashley's mother, Sayoko.

Once again we encounter a myriad of small stories, along the larger mysteries, that emphasize how important is to understand the past, to make sense of our memories, to discern between what to remember and what to let go, and to figure out how important is to be remembered.

The central theme of the game.
The central theme of the game.

The subtle storytelling is once again present and says more than a whole essay: a birthday card that is incredible crushed by how many times a person has read it, a key that another person has carried with them even when it hasn’t been used in years, or a plush that an adults carries anywhere they go.

Princess plays a subtle, but important job in the story of one side character.
Princess plays a subtle, but important job in the story of one side character.

Another Code is a shining example of how words should not be the only way to tell a story in a videogame. However, not only the visual storytelling is great but also the writing. Characters bring ideas and concepts that make you doubt and think about their motives. You soon start questioning yourself about what would you do in their place. In particular, as one character presented their point of view, Rapunzel’s Song of Healing, from the movie “Tangled”, started playing in my head: “Change the fates’ design // Save what has been lost // Bring back what once was mine”. Would you modify your memories if possible? Would you do it to help someone? What is the right thing to do for love? Any answers we think are clear in our heads may be challenged with Another Code, which is fantastic.

Ryan was one of favourite characters from the beginning.
Ryan was one of favourite characters from the beginning.

On this fully voiced adventure, we also have an enjoyable side quest that can be easily completed as we explore both the island and the lake: finding origami cranes. In some places (most of them marked in your map), you can find QR codes folded like origami cranes that can be scanned with your DAS camera. They will then reveal background information that will enrich the story.

Can you see the small origami crane?
Can you see the small origami crane?

To close up, although the puzzles are simple, they are very enjoyable and quite logical. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the movement which is quite clunky. The camera sometimes is slightly annoying. At one point something happened, which seemed like a glitch, but then I figured out an explanation, and I was right. However, later the same thing happened, but this time it was actually a glitch, which was very strange. The music is serviceable, but instead the animation is quite pretty. Ashley is extremely expressive, so you can easily tell how she feels with each revelation. Although the games are short, they don’t overstay their welcome, so you can easily enjoy all the story bits without feeling overwhelmed. The game has cool Easter Eggs, including one of a fantastic Nintendo game that many fans - myself included - want back.

Such a powerful and important message.
Such a powerful and important message.

Summary

With brilliant written and visual storytelling, a very relatable protagonist, an accessible adventure for everyone, and a though-provoking premise, Another Code: Recollection makes a triumphant return on the Nintendo Switch. Even if you have played the previous versions on the Nintendo DS or the Wii, you should give them a try for the level of polish and attention to detail that they present. And if you have never experienced the tale of Ashley Mizuki Robbins, you owe it to yourself to help her trace back her memories and grow, along with her, in the understanding of what makes us humans.

About zjmaster

zjmaster

Christian’s a fan of long lists, Pokémon, SMT, Advance Wars, Xenoblade Chronicles, Splatoon, S/JRPGs, VNs...

When not solving mysteries in Ace Attorney or doing supports in Fire Emblem, he can be found doing math or learning languages.

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Comments (5)

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linearalgebro

26d ago

Great article, I love your analysis of the main theme (memories). I specifically love this line from your article: "to discern between what to remember and what to let go, and to figure out how important it is to be remembered". It is very well written and makes me want to check out the game. I enjoyed the supplement photos from the game because of how well they matched your summary of the game. My favorite was the dog. The different references to movies made the article more personal and relatable, giving a change of pace from other reviews I've seen. I hope to see more great reviews in the future. Keep up the great work!!


ignis

26d ago

Sounds like a fun game! I like the mix between puzzles and the importance of memory and identity. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!


Thanks for your kind words! I'm happy you liked the references to movies; they both relate to the relation of past and present, so they came to mind as I was writing the review.


zjmaster

25d ago

@ignis

Thanks! The game lands between both aspects, focusing more on the storytelling than on the puzzles, which makes it accessible for every player.