Root Letter is the visual novel adventure game that delivers on what the feel and look of the genre should be, a true video-game story-telling experience. Effectively you are watching events unfold instead of reading about them like you would in a book, Kadokawa Games have brought story, visuals and audio together to create something quite beautiful, intriguing and mysterious.
Taking on the role of Max which is just a nickname as you can choose the actual name of your character but he will be referred to as Max a lot of the time, a male in his early thirties who’s been doing some reminiscing about his past. Specifically, the pen-pal he would exchange letters with approximately fifteen years ago, you come across a final letter that had been left un-opened and without a postmark, upon opening the envelope and reading what must have been written all those years ago you find that your pen-pal Aya Fumino claims to have killed someone and that she must disappear. You then take it upon yourself to find Aya and uncover what took place.
When it comes to the gameplay, the word simple comes to mind, you travel to various locations using the map, but these locations are just fixed frames, there’s no true controlled movement of your character, at each frame you have various options at your disposal such as ‘move’ which allows you to travel to different locations, ‘ask’ in which you talk to someone to further your investigations, ‘check’ to survey the frame and click on any interesting points to discover information and more. To sum up the gameplay, it’s not rocket science but isn’t just a stroll through the park whilst tapping the X button. Along with those options, you also have the inventory which when an item is chosen you will show that selected item to the person you are talking to unless it’s irrelevant to the conversation of course, I mean why would you want to show a cat charm to somebody you’re having a rather heated argument with.
The ‘guidebook’ is used as your means of discovering new locations, throughout your journey other characters will give you ideas on where to go, unbeknownst to them but you then need to discover the areas by clicking on guidebook and voila you now know where you need to head. Your ‘smartphone’ is used as the options menu where you can save, load, access settings or take a look at items you have obtained.
Investigations occur throughout the story in which you are interrogating another character, these can test your wit, but aren’t overly difficult due to the one option you have available to use is Think in which you take a moment to ponder what to do, basically this feature gives you a hint. This leads to very different confrontations with each character and you must think smart in order to further your research. During these interrogations you come across ‘MAX Mode’ in which you need to choose the most appropriate response for that exact moment, some of the statements differ to what you actually say as well as suffering from some minor localization issues, that did not stop me from enjoying myself however, you do have multiple tries to say the right phrase so I wouldn’t worry too much about having the choose the correct option right away.
Stunning artwork has been utilised in really helping bring the story to life. The visuals are typical of what you could see nowadays in some anime with a bright vibrant colour palette to boot you almost just want to jump into the world and experience it first-hand, the smells, sounds and even the taste of the food your character is served at numerous points throughout. To compliment the artwork an equally as beautiful soundtrack has been included, the music changes throughout to go along with each location and situation, take a stop at your room in the inn and you’ll be treated to a relaxing melody or come across a mysterious letter and be subject to the eerie tune that plays.
There are five endings to uncover and these are determined by how you reply to each letter you received from Aya, which bring you back time and again with the goal of trying to see what would have happened if you replied to the letters a little differently.
Root Letter has a deep immersive story featuring fascinating characters, with instructive gameplay and stunning visuals to boot, if you have some spare cash and looking for a new adventure to take part in or you’ve been waiting to jump into the visual novel genre, then this is certainly the one to get.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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