Root Letter Review
Root Letter Surprises!
Root Letter is out now on PlayStation 4 and Vita as a PlayStation Exclusive. The game itself centers around storytelling, and that is key as the game is an eight hour visual novel. Essentially all you do is look at pretty moving pictures and read lots and lots of text. Sure, there are voiced characters which are great if you are Japanese.
That there is probably what most people will think, but I guarantee if you let yourself get immersed in this beautiful game then you will enjoy it.
Root Letter starts you off as a young boy who has been writing to a young girl from another part of the country. You instantly connect in your early years at school, but you never meet or see her. All you have is a few letters, a photo and an ambition to find this woman when you leave school. Sadly the young woman never replied to your last letter and one day you find an unread letter amongst some things. She tells you she has murdered someone and the mystery starts from there.
It is an opening that I honestly half expected to be awful, I have never played a visual novel before and I have never wanted to as my thoughts on the whole reading aspect portray a rather boring and dull form of media. In fact this was quite the contrary and I was suckered into this deep and interesting mystery.
The game itself is sort of split into a few different modes. You have the story which displays scenes that can be interacted with to find out more information. You have conversations and parts in which you choose the question. There is also the reading and the inventory objects that can be used in conversation and finally you have detective mode, which is a glorified pick the right piece of writing or fail mode.
The detective mode is by far the most annoying as it sees you pick out items from your inventory, then ask particular questions in a correct order otherwise you fail. These sections wouldn’t have been as annoying if only the conclusion could be changed. If you fail there is no punishment and you are immediately restarted at the beginning of the scene until you get it right. Once it is correct you enter Max Mode where an on screen bar fills with certain words that flash on screen. You must then pick the correct answer to continue or be thrust back to the beginning of the Max Mode activation. I think that these parts should like many others in Root Letter had multiple paths.
It sounds a bit strange but it does actually flow as well as a book except you don’t need to imagine the places or people as they are there on screen. Like a readable movie, but with less going on. It works well.
Visually the game is pretty damn nice. The scenery and story imagery is well done. Plenty of detail which makes for an extremely believable story setting. Characters are also believable and as a package it comes across really well done.
Key to a story though, is writing and sadly this is where the game suffers a little. It isn’t that the story is bad, it is simply that the writing is badly translated in places. There also appears to be some clear errors in some of the wording, these range from general spelling mistakes to missing punctuation. While none of it is game breaking or buggy, it just detracts from the overall experience. Certain characters also have strangely translated names while others stay Japanese. I Personally would have just kept all of the names original.
Root Letter practically nails everything else. The menus are easy to navigate, the game is easy to understand and there are various options which beg for a second play through.
Overall, I enjoyed this eight hour visual experience, it has opened my eyes to a genre I would have otherwise entirely ignored. It offers a great story with characters that feel true to life. It also showcases some brilliant art while sucking you into its murder mystery. In my opinion. it is a must play for anyone who likes visual novels. For newcomers like myself, well give it a try. You might actually like a visual novel as did I!