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‘Disaster Report 4’ takes us to time before COVID-19

Disaster Report

“Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories” has players take part in a recovery effort. Image: Courtesy of Granzella/NIS America via AFP Relaxnews

Even though the COVID-19 has become a global preoccupation — and rightly so — it has not erased other catastrophic events from existence.

In fact, “Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories”, the latest entry to a two-decade-old franchise about extreme event survival, was initially delayed and then canceled outright in response to 2011’s undersea earthquake, whose resultant tsunami caused enormous damage to the Tohoku region, the city of Sendai and the Fukushima power plant.

Yet as handwashing, home confinement, DIY face masks and social distancing are occupying the everyday of April 2020, “Disaster Report 4” turns its gaze to what could, for a time, be viewed as a window on how we might survive less immediate dangers.

Visiting a new city for a job interview, but caught up in a massive earthquake, players work with up to 60 other characters, teaming up to help them ride out the aftershocks, escape fires, avoid building collapses and find stable ground and essential supplies.

While player choices can prove critical in deciding the fate of other citizens, highlighting how we help or inhibit one another in daily life as well as exceptional circumstances, “Disaster Report 4” does not take itself entirely seriously, with oddball moments sprinkled generously throughout.

The customizable main character stands out further still thanks to a set of optional fancy dress costumes, most of which are free, a handful throwing extra revenue upstream.

Such gestures of silliness in the face of mortal danger are entirely in keeping with franchise tradition.

Bizarre, ridiculous options, whether manifested as outfits or conversation choices, encourage players to diverge from their own approaches, whether habitual or aspirational.

Instead, there is a chance to understand the dynamics behind more morally dubious or condemnable situations; equally, its lighthearted and comedic moments remind us that we can experience a wide range of reactions to difficult moments.

“Disaster Report 4” released internationally for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC yesterday, April 7. RGA

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