Raw Danger is the spiritual sequel to Irem's 2003 PlayStation 2 release Disaster Report, an interesting survival horror game that traded on the unpredictability of a natural disaster rather than the genre's usual staple of the shambling undead. It was an often-suspenseful experience hindered by a short running time and a game engine that was technically lacking. While Raw Danger doesn't look much better than Disaster Report, it's a much bigger game with a wide cast of playable characters and an overarching story that crisscrosses in an almost Robert Altman-style fashion. It's got a heap of problems, including some really lousy graphics, stilted voice acting, and gameplay that can be just as contrived and awkward as it can be suspenseful, but the way it weaves its story can still make for a fascinating experience.
Rather than presenting a single, persistent narrative, Raw Danger actually consists of several interconnected vignettes that all take place during a massive, cataclysmic Christmas Eve flood that hits the idyllic island metropolis alternately referred to as Geo City and Del Ray. You'll start the game playing as Joshua Harwell, a college student working as a waiter at a high-toned and fancy to-do when the flood first starts wreaking havoc on the city. Joshua's story is pretty straightforward and revolves around juggling his own survival as the waters rise and the city crumbles beneath his feet, while helping fellow waitperson Stephanie McMurrough find her estranged, ailing stepmother.
Things start to get more interesting during the second story, when you play as Amber Brazil, a young woman wrongly imprisoned for the murder of her brother. It's during this story that you begin to learn about a conspiracy concerning NorCal Pharmaceuticals and Gavin Goldstein, the city's mayor. This is also when the interconnected nature of the individual stories begins to develop, and you see how a decision you made when playing as Joshua Harwell impacts how the story unfolds when playing as Amber Brazil. Some of the choices that you make are superficial, affecting the type of dialogue you hear more than the actual course of the story, though at several points your decisions can affect whether a character will live or die. For better or for worse, it's rarely apparent what the impact of certain decisions will be further down the road. On the one hand, it can make the narrative feel more organic, though on the other, it can be frustrating if you want to see an ideal outcome to the whole story.
You'll play through the disaster as a money-conscious cab driver who lands an intermittently obnoxious journalist as a fare, an insecure schoolgirl, an amnesiac, and, if you play your cards right, reporter Keith Helm, the protagonist from Disaster Report. As you progress, the NorCal conspiracy takes greater prominence, and the crossing of paths becomes more apparent. A throwaway walk-on character from one story will prove central to another, and a seemingly random occurrence will gain meaning when viewed from another character's perspective. Though the actual dialogue can be downright lousy and many of the characterizations ring hollow, it can be a joy to watch the interlocking vignettes unfold from one revelation to the next.