Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is an odd title, isn't it? Ostensibly, the game is about surviving a gargantuan earthquake, so that's the "Disaster Report" bit covered. But "Summer Memories"? It sounds more like the name of a sickly sweet K-Pop song than anything to do with cracked pavement or crumbling buildings. As it turns out, the title perfectly sums this game up – a confusing, tonally inconsistent mess from start to finish, that tries to deal with heavy subject matter while letting you dress up like a saucy sailor to take the edge off.
As the game begins, the hero you've designed using the fairly rudimentary character creator will find themselves in a bus crash due to the aforementioned massive earthquake. You'll make your way to a park, surmising that the safest place to be post-disaster is a wide open space, but instead of just staying there and waiting for help to arrive, you venture forth on a quest to the most dangerous places in the country for... Erm, well, we're not really sure.
The game provides no good reason to actually leave the relative safety of the park, other than the fact that if you didn't there'd be no game – and honestly, the world would probably be better off if that was the case. Alas, off you pop, and so begins one of the most bizarre, infuriating adventures on PlayStation 4.
Once you start your journey you almost immediately meet up with a teacher who has lost three of her schoolgirls and you can go and find them in a nearby building. They're in a clothes shop, apparently not worried about the world falling down around them – a surprisingly common trait throughout this game.
When you find them you have the option to hit on them if you like despite their morally questionable ages and the distateful nature of trying to get your leg over in the midst of the apocalypse, but then that's where we're at here. The survivors you meet are frequently of the vulnerable lady variety, and there's always a dialogue option to chance your hand with them, regardless of how ludicrous the situation might be.
One of the most important characters you'll meet on your journey is a woman in hot pants who, literally seconds after finding her, will be tied up and threatened by a couple of belligerent, rapey drunks. One of the dialogue options you have at your disposal when confronted by the two scumbags is, "Back off! She's mine!" just in case you want to make a move while simultaneously fighting off the rapists. Later in the game there's an implied sexual assault of a supporting character, and minutes later you can attempt to woo her before she's even had the chance to wash the blood off her face.
Of course, there's dialogue options aplenty here, and if you don't want to be an after-Armageddon sexpest then you can be a paragon of virtue and pick up morality points by doing the right thing. We still have no idea what the morality points actually do, as they don't appear to be tied into any other systems or the endings. Speaking of superfluous systems, there's hunger, thirst, and toilet systems too, and these appear to have absolutely no effect on the game other than a little icon popping up in the top left of the screen telling you that you need to go for a poo.
The gameplay loop is equally badly designed. You'll rarely know what it is that you need to do to move forward, or even where you're supposed to be going. Progression is usually tied to an earthquake opening up a previously unreachable area, but the earthquake won't trigger without you completing some totally arbitrary objectives first.
As an example, early in the game just after you've met the schoolgirls, you meet a man who's trapped in a bathroom in dire need of toilet paper, but in order to get the toilet paper to help him out of his sticky situation you need to pose as the cashier of a convenience store because the actual cashier is scared of the big queue of people all wanting to buy things.
So you don the cashier outfit, pretend to work at the shop, sort the queue out, find some toilet paper, give it to the man on the pot, and this somehow causes the tectonic plates of our planet to girate and an earthquake follows, allowing you to move to the next part of the city to perform some more seemingly irrelevant tasks.
None of it makes any sense, and since most of the things you're doing are only vaguely – at best – connected to each other, there's no logical reason why you'd ever do any of it.
It probably took us around 15 hours to finally reach the ending of Disaster Report 4, but we'd wager that around half of that time was spent aimlessly wandering around having no idea how to progress, losing the will to live, and then stumbling upon the solution to a problem we didn't even know existed through sheer trial and error.
It's like if you ordered a pizza for your tea, but the delivery driver wouldn't turn up until you'd built a flat-pack wardrobe and watched an episode of Quantum Leap. What should occur naturally only happens after you've completed a series of objectives that are usually only tangentially linked to each other, and none of it makes a lick of sense.
Graphically, it looks like a PlayStation 3 game that a dog ate and then sicked back up. The sound effects are genuinely quite annoying, with every footstep sounding like you're kicking around a box of Christmas decorations. There's a bit where you have to row a boat that controls so badly you'll wonder if the developers are messing with you intentionally. There's no autosave so when the game crashes you've got to try and remember what pointless tasks you completed in which order to get you back to where you were.
The last third of the game is so ridiculous that we wish we could spoil it for you, but sadly, the reviewer's code says we can't. The events that transpire and the twists that occur are so mindbogglingly stupid that it's almost worth playing the game just to get to them. Almost, but not. Honestly, it is rubbish.
Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is an absolute mess from start to finish. The puzzles that stand in the way of your progress are almost universally illogical leading to an experience that frustrates throughout. This would perhaps – at a push – be worth persevering with if the story were engaging enough, but the tale told here is so silly that it could have been generated by pulling plot twists out of a hat. Throw in a creepy vibe, crummy production values, and dodgy controls, and you're left with an unmitigated disasterpiece that you should avoid like it's got the coronavirus.