A while back, you may recall that cult PS2 hit Kowloon High School Chronicle finally got a long-awaited localisation, bringing this intriguing game to the west on an official basis for the first time. Now, PlayStation 4 owners are able to get in on the fun, too, with a physical release of the game set to be with us on March 18, 2022. Preorders are available right now.
For the unfamiliar, Kowloon High School Chronicle is a hybrid of dungeon crawler, adventure game and visual novel in which you play the part of Kuro Habaki, a treasure hunter posing as a normal high school student. You’ve come to Kamiyoshi Academy following rumours of a mysterious ruin buried beneath the campus — and the possibility of discovering the truth behind an ancient civilisation.
The thing that makes the game incredibly distinctive compared to other seemingly similar titles is the way in which it blends several disparate genres together — and makes use of those genres in unusual and interesting ways.
For example, the visual novel sequences in which the plot unfolds and you develop your relationships with the various other characters in the game allow you the opportunity to react in several distinctly “emotional” ways rather than simply picking from a list of responses. If you feel like responding to someone in an angry way would be the best approach to a situation, you can do that; likewise, if you feel like expressing joy or love would get a better result, you can do that, too.
The dungeon crawler sequences, meanwhile, are interesting in that they’re less about exploring vast labyrinthine mazes as seen in games that focus exclusively on this gameplay element. Rather, they tend to unfold a room at a time, with each room containing puzzles to solve and combat encounters to challenge. There’s an almost “escape room” feel to some of the situations in which you’ll find yourself — those ancient ruins are dangerous, after all!
Interestingly, the combat element also bucks the trend for typical dungeon crawlers by making use of a tactics game-inspired system: both you and the monsters are able to move around the environment in tiles, and thus proper positioning and formation becomes as important as the skills and equipment you’re making use of.
On top of this, Kowloon High School Chronicle contains not only its own game content, but also a full retro-style adventure known as “Rockford Adventure”, featuring some truly gorgeous pixel art. Two games for the price of one — and frankly, if you’re into what Kowloon High School Chronicle is offering, you’ll almost certainly get a kick out of some retro-style adventuring, too.
Kowloon High School Chronicle is one of those games that didn’t do all that well on its original PlayStation 2 release out east, but it had an extraordinarily long tail as word of mouth about it spread gradually from the people who had played it to people who became interested in it. It’s the very definition of cult classic — and a great game to add to your modern game collection if you enjoy picking up unusual, striking games that provide lots of scope for interesting discussion.
The physical release for the PlayStation 4 version of Kowloon High School Chronicle comes from our friends at Funstock, and takes the same form as the previous Nintendo Switch version. There’s an attractive collector’s box — which, for the retro fans, is roughly the same form factor as a game box for Atari ST and Amiga games — plus the game itself and two 60x70mm acrylic standees featuring artwork from the game.
The price? To you? £39.99, my friend. Nab yourself a copy here ahead of the release date on March 18, 2022.
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