The creators of one of the best detective games ever are back with a new 'open world mascot management crime drama' and I could not be more ready

Four years after making the best adventure game of 2020 (and one of the best detective games ever), the indie team behind Paradise Killer are back, and their new game is simultaneously exactly what I expected and something I never could've predicted. The offbeat look, irreverent humor and blend of 2D visual novel-style dialogue and 3D environments feel pure Paradise Killer, but the concept is somehow even stranger than Paradise Killer's "exiled detective named Lady Love Dies investigates murder on an island that exists outside reality populated by immortal gods." Here's how the opening moments of the trailer describe the premise: 

"Michizane 'Michi' Sugawara: a yakuza legend. Entrusted with the future, a future stolen by force, exiled in secret to run a mascot agency. Alone…?"

Not strange enough for you? Promise Mascot Agency's press release includes some vital context for this premise: "As we all know, mascots are living creatures that have coexisted with mankind since the dawn of history. Mascots have their own hopes, dreams, and desires and you'll need to negotiate to recruit them. Some mascots want money, some want fame, some want a rice ball from the local convenience store and some want to see the entire world burn to ashes in glorious hellfire."

One of the recruitable misfit mascots in the trailer, a large block of tofu with tears constantly streaming down its face, does battle with a normal-sized door by trying to walk through it. The tofu loses. "Currently soft but wants to be firm" is noted on Tofu's character sheet. This is the best combat I've seen in a game all year. 

There seems to be some kind of card game at work here when overcoming challenges, though it's hard to tell if those are for minigames or a more substantial part of what you'll be doing in Promise Mascot Agency. According to the developers, "mascots can be trained and sent out on a variety of jobs to make money, gain experience and spread the name of the Promise Mascot Agency far and wide … It's up to you to assist your imperiled employee using Hero Cards, cards representing a variety of characters you'll meet during your days in Kaso-Machi. With tactical card usage, your mascot can overcome any challenge and win hearts, minds and a healthy paycheck."

The explorable town features a cast of characters as predictably out-there as you'd expect if you've played Paradise Killer, including a traffic cop who looks like a wannabe Ultraman and a shopkeeper in full-on latex bondage gear. It looks open world much like Paradise Killer's island, but this time you can drive around an adorable Japanese kei truck, drift, and seemingly fire mascots out of the truck bed like homing missiles. The truck also has wings, naturally. The only thing keeping Promise Mascot Agency off my shortlist for 2024 game of the year is that it's not coming out until 2025.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).