#25-Rite for Turnabout
And yet another SoJ case falls! And this one,I feel,has sorta gotten the same reception as 5-3 did,with the whole 'the third case syndrome has finally been broken!' thing. And,once again,I firmly hold that the third cases can actually be very good! And this one is,but....I seriously had to consider putting 6-1 above this at one point. But I feel that it deserves this spot,at the very least. And let me explain why.
The story here is exceptional. Absolutely brilliant,especially from a plotting perspective. It sets up so many plot points in a rather subtle way,and really makes you feel for the characters. It's wondrous. The section in the rebel hideout with Datz is a stark contrast with the section in the palace,and it shows the true nature of Khura'in. It's this case which really makes you lean on the side of the rebels,and the whole thing with how the suicide had to happen is absolutely tragic.
The mystery is even better in retrospect,because at first you're immediately assuming that the rebel hunter,the high priest's killer,and the acolyte's killer are the same person. But they aren't,and the case keeps leading you in that direction. Though at the end I did figure it had to be Beh'leeb by process of elimination,but even then,the motivations and true personality shocked me. I love this part of the case to death. The fact that the Divination Seance was used to 'conceal' the truth made it even better from a gameplay perspective.
The presentation is gorgeous,showing even more of the Khura'in scenery. The music helps accomodate that,with the Lady Kee'ra song,the investigation themes,Rayfa's theme,the rebel theme,and of course,the Inner Sanctum theme. They are not only atmospheric,but are even fun to hum with. I love love LOVE the overall presentation and story here in this case. It's absolutely amazing and the reason it's been brought up this high in the first place.
But then,it sadly starts to all fall down from there. The gameplay,sadly isn't solid. The first investigation barely gets anything done,and we know so little going in. The first trial is absolutely boring,and is a shaggy dog story (i.e,it's completely useless and a time waster). The first half of the second trial is also rather boring,as with the seance you're only really arguing with Rayfa and the prosecution,and barely anything interesting gets done.
Thank god you can only play certain segments of the game,but even then,the actual segments go waaay too long,and drag on a lot more than the first case. The only parts of this case I would savour is the beginning,the segment in the palace,the second investigation,and the last half of the second trial. The others aren't fun. In fact,I'd say they're singlehandedly the worst segments in the game. Even the DLC didn't drag on this much,and knew where its limits where. And while the Psyche Locks are back,they're still penalty-less (which is a pity,as the second one was actually rather tricky).
The characters are actually kinda mixed. Let's talk about the main characters first. Phoenix is alright;no troubles there. Maya returns,but barely shows any maturity. They even sorta lampshade that. But that moment at the end with her was good,and it was nice to see her channel again. Ema is back,but since she lacks any problems (her sister or her job),she feels so bland and uninteresting. She's just...there,for the most part.
Rayfa is actually a very fun assistant,and her quips really save the investigations from being as boring as the trials. She even undergoes some crucial development, as she doubts the quality of her seances and starts losing faith in her parents. And her teenage self and new sprites are HILARIOUS,expressing the stark contrast from her in case 1.
But Nahyuta is a jerk,through and through. And he's not even a fun jerk like Blackquill or Franziska. He's just dull,and keeps spouting the same nonsense about the Holy Mother and the hells you're going to go to over and over. He's partially the reason why I detest the trials so much. He doesn't even really have any good moments,unlike cases 2 & 4 (no,the beads don't count;they appear in all his cases anyway).
Ahlbi is alright here,but since he isn't really even your assistant except for the very beginning scene,so he barely gets any good moments unlike case 1. Even the Khura'inese judge becomes uninteresting here,unlike case one,where he had some neat moments (like his wife and classes,and him allowing Phoenix to go on).
And then there's the new characters. There's Tahrust,whom I actually found both hilarious and sympathetic. Hilarious as in his sprites were great and had that 'spoopy' vibe to it,and sympathetic as in his motivations. I don't think he's bad,but just that he panicked in trying to save his wife and did more than he needed too,which showcases the tragedy even further.
Beh'leeb is good from an emotional standpoint,but I feel her parts in the investigation were boring,and you could barely even talk to her. Datz...is unfunny. I don't really like him or the way he ruined the first trial. The segment with him in the second investigation was really good though,as I already explained. Inga and Ga'ran appear,but only to foreshadow case five. And Zehlot/Neh'mu is a nice idea,but we never really get to know him that well.
Oh,and the darn names. This is probably the low point of the names,because not only are there the usual bad names (like the Inmees,Datz,and freaking Zehlot/Neh'mu),but the non character names are about just as bad (Kee'ra,War'baad,and the names of those dishes). Which ruins the immersion in the otherwise stellar presentation.
Oh,and there are some unique parallels to Turnabout Samurai (and I don't mean the Plumed Punisher). The murderer,the motive,and even the cause of death all ring familiar to my ears. What's up with that?
But oof,it seems that I went on a bit of a rant here. This case,while having a stellar mystery and story,(im)perfect presentation and average characters,has terrible and forgettable gameplay,and I would only want to ever replay a few parts of this case. But I don't feel that it's below 6-1. No,this is the only case here (I swear) that has really good and really bad parts to it that just perfectly balance each other out to a 7.05/10.
See you next time!
Next time,a third case where Maya channels Mia.