‘The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story’ iOS Review – The Best Portable Version of an FMV Masterpiece

Square Enix’s The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story () was a shockingly good time, but also one of the biggest surprises from the publisher in a long time. From its showing in the Japanese Nintendo Direct to getting confirmed for global release and finally hitting consoles and PC, The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story has been quite a journey. Since launching, the FMV mystery-adventure game has gotten a few notable updates improving the overall interface and controls, but I always wondered how long it would take to hit mobile. Less than a year after debuting for $49.99, The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story hit mobile a week ago for $19.99 bringing the complete experience to iOS and Android devices worldwide. Having played The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story on PS5, Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, PC, and Steam Deck before, I’m very impressed with most things about the iOS version.

For my review of The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story, I’m going to cover why this is my favorite FMV game of all time, how it plays on both iPad and iPhone, compare the different versions briefly to help you find what to buy, and also what needs fixing in potential updates. I’ve said this before, but The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story feels like the closest experience to an interactive version of a big budget Netflix drama.

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story has you tackle multiple murders taking place over the span of a century in an FMV game, and its production values are superlative. It is unlike anything I had played before, and I still think about how the developers pulled this off during a pandemic as well. As an FMV game, you will spend most of the 14 or so hours runtime watching scenes play out, but the way the cast takes on different roles across different time periods across the story is fantastic.

As the name suggests, The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story focuses on the Shijimas, and begins with you taking on the role of mystery novelist Haruka Kagami meeting them. The story deals with murders, betrayal, family heirlooms, curses, and more. On paper, I thought I’d get tired of the same cast throughout, but this is the best showcase of the actors’ talent with how they managed pulling off multiple roles and how it all fit perfectly into the overarching narrative and reason for this playing out. As a story-focused release, I’d recommend buying or trying this through the demo if you have a remote interest.

Barring watching the story progress through a video and making some decisions, The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story has you putting together clues and mysteries to form your hypothesis as Haruka Kagami. This involves scrolling through a timeline grid and placing hexagonal pieces correctly. It isn’t very simple, but sometimes going through the motions of various options to find the solution you’ve already figured out might get tiring. This section plays out like a blend of a basic matching game as you find the correct patterns on the pieces. The solution phase comes after this where you use your hypothesis to try and get to the bottom of the problem.

As a smaller cast than I expected, The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story does a lot with its talent. FMV games live and die by their acting and production for the videos, and I’m yet to see one deliver on immersion like The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story did since I played it last year. Barring Nanami Sakuraba who plays the protagonist Haruka, Mansaku Ikeuchi is easily my favorite of the cast. The original actors spoke in Japanese, but there is an optional English voice track. I was pleased to see the option, but the English dub here should’ve been better. I stuck to Japanese for my playthroughs across all platforms after testing out the English option for a few hours.

Hayashi Yuuki’s score for The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story is amazing. The different versions of specific songs that play based on the era in-game are excellent. The entire soundtrack is great, and I’m glad Square Enix finally added it to streaming services worldwide when the mobile version of the game was released. The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story was a highlight of 2022 not just for its story and actors, but also its music which I continue listening to outside the game.

Visually, The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story looks gorgeous. The encoding done for the videos isn’t perfect, but it looks great on my iPad Pro (2020) model almost all the time. There are some instances where I’d have preferred higher resolution videos though. As a game designed for 16:9 displays, The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story does have black bars with artwork to fill up the screen depending on your device. There is seemingly no way to zoom in or change the artwork used in these parts. There is an option to change the quality of the 3D gameplay portions which apply to the hypotheses.

When it debuted on PC and consoles last year, I wasn’t a fan of the controls. The cursor movement was too slow even on PS5, and it just felt sluggish on Switch in parts. It was also a bit annoying to go through the Reasoning Phase with picking up hexagons and placing them on the grid. A post-launch patch dramatically improved how I felt about the controls, and I still hoped to see touch support added on Switch. It never arrived. On iPad and iPhone, The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story plays great, but I wish it ran at a higher frame rate in these parts. Granted, I don’t have the newest devices, but I would’ve liked a performance mode for the Reasoning Phase at least. The controls during the actual FMV sequences are perfect on a touchscreen.

I was curious about how The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story would handle the install size on mobile given it is over 15GB even on Switch. On iOS, you need to download an additional 1.53GB in-game just to start the prologue after the initial App Store version is installed. Beyond that, the remaining chapters can be downloaded on demand when you reach them in-game or from the title screen. The total remaining download size is 13.68GB for the full game.

My issues with The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story on iOS specifically are the lack of iCloud save syncing, no controller support (minor issue), and some interface elements not being high resolution. Having 4K video support for the in-game FMV sequences is not feasible given the file size of those videos on PC and PS5, but Square Enix should’ve made sure the game’s interface looks crisp on all devices. Controller support isn’t needed, but I don’t get why they didn’t leave it in since this game is available on consoles with controller support already. The lack of iCloud sync is annoying. It would’ve been great to play this like watching something on Netflix by resuming across devices. I am pleased that The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story does not have online DRM for launching the game like Square Enix’s Voice of Cards trilogy on mobile.

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story – PS5, Switch, Steam Deck, PC, and iOS compared

The best way to experience The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story right now is on a 4K display on PS5. it has the best visuals, DualSense features, and more. The PC version with the 4K DLC pack is a close second, but the PC version has no Steam Cloud support in its current state. Following those two, I’d go with a newer iPad as the best way to experience The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story on the go. It has great visuals and plays brilliantly. It isn’t as intuitive on a smaller screen so I would go iPad over iPhone unless you have an iPhone 14 Plus or similar sized screen. The Switch version has the slowest loading, some performance issues, and the lowest quality for the videos compared to other platforms. Steam Deck can offer a better experience thanks to 1080p videos downsampled on the system, but the screen isn’t as good as an OLED Switch or any recent iOS device I have access to.

My recommendations, assuming you have access to the systems, are PS5 if you don’t care about portability and iPad if you want the best portable experience. You can try out the free demo for The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story on PS5, PS4, Switch, or a Windows PC right now to get an idea of how it looks and controls on your platform of choice.

While I hope it gets a demo at some point on mobile like on other platforms, The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story is a gem of an FMV game, and one of my favorite Square Enix games in over a decade. The story is fantastic and the actors were amazing across the board. All of this was elevated by its magnificent soundtrack. Having hit mobile with all updates included and controls well, The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story on iOS is the best portable version of the game. My favorite version is still the PS5 release, but I’m very pleased with how The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story turned out in its mobile debut. Hopefully the few issues I have can be sorted in updates.

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