Root Letter - PlayStation Vita Review

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  • System: PlayStation Vita
  • Developer: Kadokawa Games
  • Publisher: PQube
  • Release Date: November 8th, 2016
  • Pricing:PS4 $59.99, PS Vita $39.99
  • Rating: M for Mature
  • Genre: Adventure RPG, Visual Novel
  • Players: 1
  • Official Website: http://www.r-letter.com/

Who it caters to

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Root Letter is a Japanese visual novel released by PQube. It is the first in the Kadokawa Game Mystery Series. If you find yourself interested in visual novels, as many otaku do, Root Letter might be a good game to test the waters. The video game is fairly text-heavy, as most visual novels are, but it is not a visual novel focused solely on romance as many can be. Instead, Root Letter is a mystery based visual novel that really leaves you guessing.

Comparing itself to famous games like the Ace Attorney Series, Root Letter is a game that takes itself seriously up until the very end. While it may not have the silliness of the Ace Attorney games, it still retains the mystery; nothing is as it seems. However, don’t be put off by how much mystery there is. Root Letter can be fairly straightforward, but you’ll see.

What to Expect

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Root Letter takes advantage of the PS Vita’s beautiful display and really provides the gamer with magnificent graphics that are sure to please. Colors are vibrant and the artistry can truly be appreciated on the PS Vita, something is not always taken advantage of by game develops.

The music in Root Letter is quite enjoyable and soothing for the most part, however, there is a lack of variety so you may find that the game continues to play the same music over and over. The music can feel a bit generic and does not technically tailor itself to the gaming experience, but it is still rather soothing.

As far as achievements go, Root Letter has a fair amount of achievements to be earned during gameplay. However, you will find that if you replay the game in an effort to attain these achievements, you cannot skip chapters else you will miss out on key choices that will give you achievements. So beware of that.

Root Letter Trailer

Story

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The plot follows you [default name: Takayuki] as you try to uncover the mystery behind the girl you used to have as a pen pal in high school. As you are moving, you rediscover old letters from 15 years ago that you exchanged with a high school girl, Aya. Despite only exchanging 10 letters, you had a crush on her and she really helped pull you through the hard times. However, you find a mysterious letter that is not postmarked with a confession from Aya about having killed someone. Confused, you go all the way to Matsue from Tokyo to find out what happened to Aya. However, upon arriving at the address on the envelope, you find an empty lot where a house once stood and was burned down.

As far as the game is concerned, there is a wide cast of characters that all have their own personalities that you can see reflected in the interactions. Root Letter lacks those moe characters that are so common in visual novels. Instead, they opted for more realistic representations starting with the manipulative main characters to “Bitch” who has all but failed in her ambitions and is living vicariously through her daughter.

The plot itself is rather interesting as you really don’t know what is going on until the very end of the video game, and even then, it can be a bit confusing. As the plot develops, you are left with many more questions, especially as everything doesn’t seem to match up. Let’s not forget the complexities of human emotion that make it that much more confusing. We’re not dealing with teens in this game, however. No, Root Letter has grown adults who are still struggling with the choices they’ve made in their own lives. As far as how original it all is, Root Letter is fairly decent as it takes a rather unused plot and develops it into something more.

Gameplay

Root Letter is a visual novel with multiple possible endings, however, only one ending is the true ending. You attain the right ending by choosing certain responses to Aya’s letters. You are given a question with three possible answers, then you must choose from three possible questions to ask Aya. These responses will shape the route that you will go on. It is important to note that the True Ending is not attainable on the first playthrough. It will unlock after the first playthrough.

The plot will vary depending on what answers you provide as it eventually changes by Chapter 8. At this point, Aya will respond to you with a letter that dictates the rest of her character from then on. If you are replaying the game, you are able to skip up to Chapter 8. From Chapter 8 onwards, it’s all in your hands. Upon my initial playthrough, I received the Crossed Path route which left me a little more lost than anything else. Of course, the game does remind you that there is more to the mystery so be sure not to falter just because of one mediocre ending!

You will find that there are two aspects of the gameplay that will really take up your time. As you try to figure out who Aya’s friends are and attempt to get them to reveal the truth to you, you must present evidence and statements that will get each character to reveal more, much like the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games. You use a rather forceful approach as your character deems it necessary to harass the other characters and dig into their closet for their skeletons to reveal the truth. Beware of clicking on the wrong answers as you will get a penalty!

The other aspect of the gameplay you will notice is Max Mode. Max Mode is essentially a mode that allows you to exclaim something in hopes of pounding truth or sense into the character you are harassing. Essentially, you click X whenever the right statement comes up so that you can shout it out at the characters. Coupled with the fact that Max Mode allows you infinite tries, Max Mode seems like an unnecessary part of the gameplay that has no real consequence.

There is also an action you can take called “Think” which was initially introduced as something you can use if you have trouble figuring out the next course of action. While playing, however, I realized that this is not a hint button at all. You can use it to figure out what you have to do next, but it also has some real function such as collecting your thoughts and trying to move time along in the game instead of having to recheck everything in the room. You can also use it to deduce some things that are easily connected. So there is some function to it after all.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

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As far as visual novels go, Root Letter is a fairly fascinating game that keeps you trapped as you want nothing more than to know what is going on. As I continued to play, I found that the game itself left so many holes that I could barely make guesses about the outcome until the very end. Although I want to make note that some parts of the plot for certain routes fail to be necessary, in my opinion.

Honey's Pros:

  • Visual aesthetics; great graphics
  • Unique characters with real personalities and problems; No moe characters
  • Intriguing storyline with great plot development that keeps you enthralled up until the end
  • Each ending is unique so replaying the game is not boring
  • The backgrounds are beautiful and really bring out the true beauty of the Japanese countryside

Honey's Cons:

  • Obnoxious main character who harasses and emotionally manipulates the other characters to find out about Aya
  • Some endings are a bit anti-climactic, especially if it’s your first playthrough
  • Music can be repetitive
  • Max Mode feels unnecessary
  • The “Think” action is utilized more than initially advertised which can throw some people off.

Honey's Final Verdict:

As someone who was excited to play Root Letter, it has not failed to disappoint with its mystery and intrigue. It is refreshing to play a game that does not have basic anime tropes and is not centered on dating, as is customary in visual novels (not that there’s anything wrong with those either). Root Letter is a dynamic game that allows the user to really use their brain to figure out how to move forward. If you need an RPG with mystery, perhaps consider playing Root Letter.
Jenangelx3

Editor

Author: Jenangelx3

California based workaholic. Current mottos are “I don’t care” and “I’ll try almost anything once”. Interests include traveling, eating, video games, and weightlifting. Currently living life to the fullest, pursuing my happiness, and conquering my fears. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

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