Disaster Report

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Disaster Report (絶体絶命都市, Zettai Zetsumei Toshi lit. Desperate Situation City) is 2002 survival "horror" game for the PlayStation 2. It's unique in that it nixes the monsters and blood for an earthquake scenario, thus, helping establish the Disaster Survival subgenre. The game has several quirks that make it seem more like an experimental Dreamcast, or even PS One game than a typical PlayStation 2 title of the time. The thing just screams budget, with cheap sound effects, unintentionally campy voice acting (in the English release), mediocre graphics, etc. Also had an amount of Westernization and cultural censorship that was odd even at the time for media not aimed at little kids; for example, a handful of characters had their hair dyed blond for the sole purpose of looking White.

The story concerns Keith, a newspaper reporter who while commuting to work on Stiver Island, a deadly Earthquake hits. Stranded on the island, he teams up with a girl and together they explore the wreckage to find supplies and a way to be rescued. Over the course of the game, it is revealed that not everything is the way it seems.

The gameplay is survival horror fare, albeit with a heavy emphasis on exploration and survival instead of horror: there are no zombies to kill, no monsters around the next corner, and you never even find a weapon, much less have the ability to fight. Instead, you're faced with the prospect of increasingly dangerous situations, like being trapped on a suspension bridge that's crumbling, escaping from a waterfront district that's rapidly becoming an underwater district, and more. A thirst meter acts as the primary focus of survival, requiring replenishment from clean water supplies. The meter drains based on physical activity (if you run with a heavy backpack on, jump around, climb, sprint instead of jog and so on, it drains faster). There's also a health meter, depleted from injury and dangerous activity, that can only be replenished with juice or the exceedingly rare first aid kits. Various gear can be found that provide benefits, like a helmet that protects against falling debris or a pair of gloves that make climbing easier. Puzzles are generally disguised as lock and key affairs, and basic platforming is required to progress. The game also has a simple item assembly system which allows you to make more advanced items like a lamp helmet or a water purifier.

The game provides a surprising amount of depth and replayability despite the (many) obvious flaws. The game had enough of a cult following to warrant 3 sequels. Unfortunately, only the second and (eventually) fourth made it to the states in the form of Raw Danger and Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories. The 4th was at one point flat out canceled due to a major earthquake in Japan and only after eight years and a change in developer a (very short) demo for the 4th game was finally released in August 2018, then released in October 2018 before eventually seeing a western release (with PC and Nintendo Switch ports) in April 2020. A spinoff, 巨影都市 (Kyoei Toshi; named City Shrouded in Shadow in early promotional material), which replaces the natural disasters with a Kaiju attack, was released in October 2017. A Fan Translation for the third game was released in July 2022.

Tropes used in Disaster Report include:
  • Action Survivor: The player character, with emphasis on the second word. You are trying to survive a disaster and action is required in order to do so.
  • Always Close: Averted, usually. In most cases, you have a certain amount of time to escape a dangerous situation, and taking too long will result in your death. There is the occasional Game Setpiece though, such as climbing a ladder at the beginning seconds before the platform you were just on goes falling into the sea.
  • The Artifact: The fourth game is set what would have been Twenty Minutes Into The Future if it was released as intended, but by release was actually the past.
  • Artifact Title: The fan translation of the third game calls it Disaster Report 3, the official English version of the fourth game is Disaster Report 4 and most English language discussions of the series (including this page) calls the series Disaster Report, but only in the first game is the main character a reporter. Averted by Raw Danger.
  • Book Ends:
    • "July, 2005. Sunny. I'm heading towards Stiver Island to start my new job as a reporter."
    • "July, 2005. Rainy. Stiver Island just disappeared outside my window."
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The ending reveals that the artificial island is being subjected to massive earthquakes and sinking due to the island's creator sinking it in an act of revenge against the people that wronged him. However, the player discovers and points out that the people he sought revenge against were framed in an attempt to make him do exactly what he did, prompting a Taking You with Me towards the true Big Bad.
  • Hammerspace: Averted. Your backpack can only hold so much, and you will inevitably have to make a decision as to whether that extra water bottle or that crowbar will be more useful to you. Played straight with costume items in the third game, which don't take up space/weight in your pack.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: City Shrouded in Shadow includes characters from the Godzilla, Ultraman, Gamera, Patlabor, and Neon Genesis Evangelion frabcguses.
  • Multiple Endings: Of the "multiple paths" variant. No matter which path you take, you will eventually uncover the conspiracy at the heart of the earthquake. However, how you get there, who you get there with, and who survives are all dependent on your actions.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Every item you can pick up in the game is useful. However, it's possible to pick up items that were useful earlier, and now have no purpose at all or items that haven't been useful and won't be for a very long time. They exist only to take up space in your backpack.
  • Previous Player Character Cameo: Sadou Masayuki (Keith) appears in the epilogue of 4.
    • Mythology Gag: Dialog options allow the player to insist he's "Keith".
  • Race Lift: The very Japanese-looking cast had their hair recolored (mostly blond) to give them a more Caucasian appearance. Their faces are unaltered.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: You're offered an opportunity to get off the island twice before the true ending of the game. In both cases, doing so means that you're leaving someone else behind to fend for themselves, with the implication that they will not be able to do so and will die. These endings count as successfully completing the game.
  • Twenty Minutes Into The Future: The first game, released in 2002, was set in 2005. Averted with the April 2009 released third game: While it doesn't explicitly give a real year, it mentions the events of the first game took place five years prior. Also averted in the fourth game due to its long development cycle.
  • Unexpected Genre Change: About three-quarters of the way through the game, the destruction of the island takes a backseat as two men, armed with a rocket launcher and sniper rifle, try very hard to kill you, thanks to you having uncovered the conspiracy. There are also several shorter stealth sequences in the game.
  • Upgradable Equipment: You start the game with a small emergency first-aid backpack and can find other, bigger backpacks as you progress through the game. Bigger backpacks hold more stuff but drain your thirst meter faster. You're never required to take a larger backpack, and it's possible to finish the game with the small emergency backpack.
  • What the Hell Hero: The first game establishes an Irem tradition, which would appear in every future title of theirs with player dialog options (especially the pachinko simulator series Pachipara), of wildly inappropriate dialog options including flirting with women you just met (which is still possible if you play as a girl in the latter games, sometimes with slightly altered options), very random "funny" options like pretending to be a store employee during a disaster, bargaining for pay before helping people, just plain old being a massive, unhelpful, jerk and more. Naturally, most NPCs aren't fond of many of these.
    • One infamous example is the protagonist sees a chef in a Literal Cliff Hanger. You can help him, ignore him, or steal his hat.