Some video games take us on a power trip while others offer a trip to a bygone era; Master Magistrate promises both for a single admission price. Though previously a Japanese exclusive, this anime-styled visual novel adventure from developer IRODORI has crossed the language barrier (thanks to the localization team at ShiraVN) and now invites YOU to assume the titular role on Steam Early Access.
Responsibilities involve the peacekeeping of a feudal era Japanese town where samurai police the streets and cherry blossoms fall like snow. Through a combination of detective work and a judge's decree, you will solve crimes and punish the guilty across four distinct cases. But you won't do it alone, with assistance coming from an eclectic cast of characters either employed by the governing Shogunate or the independent organization known as the Shinsengumi. Downtime between cases can be spent getting to know your companions and lazing about town, but be ready because crime can strike at any moment!
The story-centric Master Magistrate features full Japanese voice acting to complement its characters' personas, livened further by the use of colourful chibi art and images replicating brush strokes, alongside its more traditional anime look. Just as with its aesthetic, expect a shifting tone in writing and scenarios, from the direness of murder trials to awkward encounters of a sexual nature. Much like in the Ace Attorney series, during the detective segments you must "interview witnesses and suspects to collect information and build dossiers, investigate the crime scene for material evidence, and explore the town in pursuit of more clues." When you think you have everything you need, as adjudicator you can "hold a hearing with your suspects and key persons of interest to narrow down the possibilities and uncover the truth behind the lies."
Master Magistrate is available for Windows PC through Steam Early Access, currently offering three out of four total chapters, with a full release to follow next month. When that time comes, IRODORI also intends to provide a DLC option to uncensor explicit content not otherwise available.