Process of Elimination Review (Switch)

Incompetent Detective? More like Teamwork Detective.

Released: April 11, 2023
Available on: Switch/PS4
Genre: Detective Mystery Visual Novel
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Review key received by developers

It’s no surprise that I like detective mystery stories, and especially murder mystery stories, so it’s probably a no brainer that I would be drawn to a game like Process of Elimination. Though, what certainly secured the thought that I must play this game was that it has a cast of 14 unique detectives, with you being the most inexperienced one. So now that the game is released and I got to play it, did it live up to my expectations?

Process of Elimination has you play as Wato Hojo. Wato always inspired to becoming a detective ever since his childhood when he was kidnapped for some time and escaped with the help of his friend who sadly died in the process. Fast forward to the present and Wato is a step closer to his dream as he’s recently started working as a part-time assistant at a local detective agency. Sure, he cleans a lot, but it has allowed him to not only study up on skills he would need, but get experience. One night while Wato was out tailing someone he thought was a suspect in a case his agency was looking into, it turns out that it was a test. The man Wato was tailing wasn’t the suspect but the veteran detective Senior Detective who was scouting Wato. Upon seeing Wato’s potential, Senior invites Wato to join the Detective Alliance and help with the Case of the Quartering Duke.

You see, there has been a rise in a dangerous serial killer going by the name The Quartering Duke. Calling himself an entertainer for the masses, he started his killing spree with a broadcast that killed two men in animal costumes. Fast forward half a year later and The Quartering Duke now has 100 victims under his belt (though whether these were also broadcasted is up in the air) and copycats started to pop up. With no evidence other than there being two victims and The Duke’s logo somewhere on their person, this seemingly impossible case gets picked up by the Detective Alliance which is comprised of an elite group of detectives. Those in the Detective Alliance are ranked and has their own alias to fit with their defining trait.

Of course Wato accepts, he would be a fool not to, but unbeknown to him the situation he’s about to enter is going to turn deadly. In fact, a lot of people die before he wakes up from inside a locker and he almost dies when he walks into the mansion Senior Detective told him to meet the detectives the Detective Alliance sent to solve this case. Not counting yourself, 13 other detectives are here to put their minds and techniques together to figure out who The Quartering Duke is. Well…scratch that. Senior Detective turns up dead and considering how fresh the kill was, it turns out that The Quartering Duke has revealed himself as one of your colleagues. Even worse, Senior isn’t going to be the only detective killed as more will be murdered as time goes on. While the Quartering Duke is someone in your ranks, it’s up to you to pull everyone together and figure out who it is.

At least Wato has his own alias, although his alias is Incompetent Detective since he couldn’t think up one on the spot (thanks Downtown).

I absolutely loved the characters in Process of Elimination. Just as you hear, each detective’s main trait is what their alias alludes to. Don’t take this as a red flag though, as characters aren’t one dimensional and are more than their alias. You learn about them as you progress and if you didn’t like them at first you probably will eventually. Like for me, I didn’t really like Mystic Detective, who specializes in the occult and has a cryptic way of speaking, but you learn that he doesn’t automatically exclude possibilities and he’s actually a really caring man. Looking at it through a character I liked from the start, Bookworm Detective is a little girl with photographic memory and talks in the third person, but she can be pretty mean. Though, as time went on she became one of my favorite characters and you get such a great sense of her character that I ended up sensing that she didn’t really mean her comments, but was joking around in her own way, before the text even said it. Heck, if there’s one thing that can show how great the characters were written is the fact that despite learning their flaws or horrible things some of them have done, I couldn’t bring myself to dislike any of them. Deeply disappointed in them? Yes. Outright hate them? No.

I also loved reading interactions between characters. One of the things I was looking forward to was how this cast of characters, characters that differ quite significantly, would interact and it does not disappoint. There are so many great scenes that I couldn’t help but smile all throughout and even some that I couldn’t help but giggle at what was happening. I almost wished we could have more time with these characters, especially those that die early on, but I fear it might have ruined the tension of the story.

It turns out I’m saying this a lot, the characters here are just that good, but I also loved how we get to see Incompetent gain the trust of the other detectives throughout the story. It builds as you go along and it felt really rewarding when the other detectives showed that they trust you through their actions and then confirming it.

I have seen others say that the pacing in the beginning of the game is slow, but honestly I felt it was fine. And I’m saying this as someone that hates slow pacing and boring filler. I felt that it introduces everything and everyone at a good pace and even when the characters are just hanging out, there’s always a feeling of the story moving.

As for the ending, not going to spoil anything but it was a bit disappointing. I do think the reveal of who the Quartering Duke ended up being was good (I would prefer a bit more foreshadowing, but it does make you look at past events in a different light), but the finale itself was disappointing with how it was written and how much it ended up dragging and going in circles. I was also disappointed in the epilogue as it’s used as a sequel bait with a premise that was brought up late and never expanded on to give us why this is their next challenge. Due to the game not elaborating on it, I’m still left with why? Why would they be angered with your group and why would you need to disband them when they didn’t know who the Duke was either and it’s only speculation that they would be angry (which the Duke themselves planted)? Plus, I much rather of had the epilogue’s main focus being on how the characters are doing, especially for one particular detective who may be my favorite character.

Nonetheless, I do still think the story is worth reading. It was certainly a trip that kept me engaged all throughout my playtime and a disappointing finale doesn’t change this nor ruin it.

When it’s time to investigate, whether it’s a crime scene or just investigating for clues, it’s time to get into Process of Elimination’s unique gameplay segments. Called investigation simulations, this takes place on an isometric map with tactical elements. Alongside the detectives, there are areas that are flagged as Evidence Squares and Mystery Points that needs to be investigated. Though, these detectives aren’t all that used to helping others out so it’s up to you to intervene in their actions through telling them where to move and when to infer Evidence Squares, analyze evidence, inspect Mystery Points to get said evidence to analyze, or assist another detective. Each detective has their own strength and weaknesses that you’ll have to take into account to utilize them to their fullest. For example, Techie is bad at inspecting, but he’s one of the best at analyzing evidence; while Downtown is pretty bad at almost everything, but excels in movement and assisting other detectives. You might not send someone like Downtown to infer a Mystery Point, but you’ll send her down to assist, and thus boost, another detective.

In a fun additional detail, each character also has different dialogue towards the things they can inspect, infer, and analyze. They all give you the same base, but they give it to you differently in their own unique way. This was something I wasn’t expecting and it certainly helps characterize the detectives even more.

However, not only do you have a time limit, but most maps will throw something that will make your investigation difficult. At first this starts with some detectives not being intervenable, but you soon get hazards like traps or deadly enemies chasing you that will cause a game over if a detective is left inside their zone at the end of the turn. Other than one investigation that has you dealing with annoying invisible enemies, I didn’t have much trouble with the investigations. Just don’t be shy to use the map-wide movement option (not being able to do any other action isn’t as scary as it sounds) and don’t forget to analyze evidence from Evidence Squares.

Once you complete an investigation simulation and have all the evidence in your hands, you’ll then put everything together and solve the case. You basically do this by answering questions correctly while Incompetent is piecing the whole picture together, however there is a Trust Level that stops you from outright guessing each time. There are a couple tricky questions, but as long as you were paying attention you’ll be fine. This part is a bit disappointing if you’ve played other detective mystery visual novels like Danganronpa or Ace Attorney, but it gets the job done.

There is quite a bit of optional content that you can get and read. As you progress through the story you’ll notice that certain keywords are added to your Lexicon, but the bulk of keywords are found during investigations. These are just marked with a red light on the map, and often out of the way, but I didn’t find much trouble getting all of them. There’s also the roster which starts with info on all the detectives, but as you progress it fills out with new information to complete their profile. You don’t have to read the roster or Lexicon, I felt the story itself did fine, but I would still recommend checking them out as it does give you more information and it’s interesting to read. If you were wanting to know more about each detective’s notable cases, these are where you can read about them. However, I did wish some entries gave more information as some do end cryptically.

If you performed well on the previous investigation (and by well, I mean got the best score), you’ll also notice a new, blue square. These are residual thoughts and sending Incompetent to inspect it will give you bonus scenes that happened in the past. There are also some residual thoughts that can only be obtained in a second, new game+, playthrough.

Process of Elimination’s localization is top tier. A part of the character’s characterizations are how they each speak and the localization team did a great job in keeping that in. I only noticed two instances of mistakes, one where a sentence didn’t make sense (though it may be just how that character talked since this was early on) and the second being a contradiction late in the game between the text and what actually happened, putting a character in two locations at once. I also liked how the game was written, but at times it did have you assume some aspects and it did cause some confusion on what actually happened (though I’m not sure if this was a localization issue or just how it was written originally).

I also love the art style used for Process of Elimination and I love everyone’s designs (which may be part of the reason why I wanted to play this game). However, I did notice that if a character has asymmetrical facial designs it doesn’t stay consistent. I noticed this halfway through my playthrough, so in a way it’s not that big of a deal, but once I did it bothered me for the rest of my playthrough. I noticed this with Gourmet, Armor, and Techie, with Gourmet’s having the biggest inconsistency with her roster picture and a CG contradicting her facial feature placements.


Despite the finale and epilogue being disappointing, as well as some of the investigation simulation segments being annoying, I really enjoyed my time with Process of Elimination. Not only did it live up to my expectations as a detective mystery story, but I loved the characters and I overall liked the investigation simulation gameplay sections. If you’re looking for a new detective mystery game with an interesting story and a cast of unique, compelling characters, pick up Process of Elimination.


♡ ♡ ♡ A witch that goes for anything that peaks her interest no matter the genre. Currently obsessed with the Persona series and trying to make a dent in my backlog. ♡ ♡ ♡

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