Culturally, the Japanese have traditionally been perceived as “out there”, in the nicest possible way. The forms of Japanese media that the West has been exposed to would suggest as much, and when it comes to the surreal in video games, very few minds would be able to match that of one Goichi Suda, or Suda 51 as he is better known as, and Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day is further proof that Suda 51 is an odd fellow.
Longest Day is the fifth and final part of an anime anthology featuring short animated pieces, all of which are collected here in one Blu-Ray disc. Without delving too much into the short films themselves, each one is a masterclass in animation, although completely disconnected from the others. One of the films, Possessions, was recently nominated for Best Animated Short at the 86th Oscars, so that gives you an insight into the calibre here. Of course, anime is very much an acquired taste, and the ever-so-abstract nature of the medium can be a barrier to enjoyment or a point of fascination, depending on your stance. Even if the narratives don’t make too much sense, the artwork and animation itself is gorgeous, and can certainly be appreciated by all.
But back to the actual game. Suda 51’s contribution to Short Peace is a celebration of Japanese tropes. A tale of schoolgirl assassins, evil spirits and gigantic Pomeranians (as it happens, the creator of Tokyo Jungle, Yohei Kataoka, had a big hand in this game too), Ranko Tsukigame’s Longest Day is an incredibly fast-paced runner-style game.
Unlike many similar games, the environments don’t autoscroll, although at all times you are being chased by a wall of evil spirits to ensure you aren’t too slow. Running through the streets and subways of Tokyo, it’s all about slicing through enemies, which shatter into pieces that can destroy other enemies, causing a chain reaction that will refill ammunition that can be used to keep the chasing entity at bay for a few seconds longer.
This is simply a game about being fast and deadly, while also looking good doing it. A pixel confetti erupts from the defeated, creating a sea of digital fireworks that obscure your view of the action, as pretty as it is. You also need to worry about jumping over and sliding under obstacles, as well as looking out for alternative paths that lead to collectable pieces of concept art and costumes. The mad panic of the on-screen action is quick to subside, as each level lasts only a few minutes, with a few boss fights changing the mechanics every now and then.
Unfortunately, it’s all over within ten levels, equating to a half-hour’s worth of gameplay, a few cutscenes in between, plus just over an hour of anime. It’s clear that the intentions are for players to replay each of the levels to find artwork and get faster times, but the motivation for doing so is slim unless you really want to change the look of Ranko’s tiny frame.
While it lasts, Longest Day is a very fun game, if incredibly shallow by nature. By the time events escalated into absolute insanity near the end, and the credits started to roll, I had convinced myself that it was all a big troll and I’d be back to playing more levels. However, after being taken back to the title screen, I felt disappointed, wanting far more than what had been offered.
It’s worth noting that the localisation is very minimal, with all parts of Short Peace in it’s original Japanese dialogue, with localised text overlaid across the screen in quite an ugly fashion. But this is something that will bother very few people, especially the target audience who will appreciate the untouched audio.
VERDICT: Short Peace is very difficult to criticise as a package. If you’re a real Japanophile, then you’ll no doubt enjoy everything on offer here. However, if you only have interest in the game itself, then you absolutely will be disappointed. As a rental it’s certainly worth a try as something different, but it’s hard to recommend this as a purchase unless you know what you’re getting into.
DECENT. A 6/10 indicates that, while this game could be much better, it still has a fair amount to offer the player. It might be an interesting title sabotaged by its own ambition, or a game denied greater praise by some questionable design choices. Don’t avoid it outright, but approach it with caution.
Review code provided by publisher.