Thursday, August 17, 2017

Root Letter

Finished my first playthrough of Root Letter this evening.  It's...interesting.

The fact that said first playthrough took about eight hours but I've had the game since it came out last autumn indicates the game's quality.  The writing (and I'm not sure if it's the original script or the translation) is frequently terrible to the point of being a) hilarious, b) incomprehensible or c) both, and the gameplay is similar.  While presented as a typical visual novel, it tries to ape the peerless Ace Attorney with investigation sequences and bits where you quiz characters, but they're so poorly done that you frequently end up employing a trial-and-error approach.  And as for the bizarre "Max Mode" sections where you basically have to press X at the right time to shout at someone with precisely the right amount of vigour...well.

And yet, I'm planning to go back and get the other endings, and eventually the true ending.

The base script may be frequently awful (although it does have its moments), but the overall story is excellent, and the characterisation is spot-on.  It's essentially a meditation on growing up - the core plot is that your character is trying to track down his penpal from his teenage years by using her old correspondence to identify her former classmates.  It might help that all the characters are close to my own age, but at times it really resonated as these well-rounded individuals reflected on their teenage years and how near or far they've stuck to their childhood goals.

It's also almost comically pretty.  The game's set in Matsue, the capital city of Shimane prefecture, and was apparently developed with the aid of the city's tourist board and dammit, it worked.  I definitely want to visit Matsue now.  (The soundtrack and voice acting are both very good, too.)

Basically, it's kind of successful at what it does.  But what it really needs is a good anime adaptation so you can skip the whole "game" bit.  In the absence of same, back to my save file to see the other endings I go.

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