Across the Grooves
Developed By : Nova-box
Published By : Nova-box
Category : Adventure, Narrative, Visual Novel
Release Date : June 17, 2020
As much as I love reading, I never thought I’d be the type to enjoy visual novel games. Instead, I’ve now experienced a lot more than I ever thought I would, and I find myself heading back into them if the premise sounds intriguing enough. Much like I was drawn in by the story experienced for Across the Grooves on the Nintendo Switch. Before diving into this review though, I would like to clarify that this review will maintain spoiler-free and only discuss plot elements that are uncovered in the game’s first chapter.
Our story joins and follows Alice, a woman who lives a not-so-interesting life in her long-term relationship living with her fiance, and steady office job. One day in the mail, a former love of hers sends her an old record in the mail. When she ends up listening to it, the music sends her back in time to an old memory, letting her relive it. After she finishes listening, she goes about the rest of her day and discovers that she actually did relive those past events. Not only that, they altered her present as she learns at dinner that night her friends have no memory of her fiance, and he has no memory of her. Now, to try and get her life back to what it was, Alice packs up and sets off on a Europe-crossing trail following her former lover in hopes of setting everything back right again.
As you would expect, there’s not much of a focus on “gameplay” with this title. While some visual novels mix in some sort of mini-game for you to experience sporadically, Across the Grooves keeps it’s focus purely on the story and the music. And, well, naturally the decisions you make. These choices will not only shape the story as it plays out but also Alice as a person. Some of the choices you make for her include whether or not she tells the truth about something, or deceives and keeps it a lie and secret.
What I found really cool is that, obviously there’s a bit of a focus on music, and this music usually plays out through key scenes of the story. You would think that these songs are crafted very specifically for specific moments and scenarios, but you’d actually be wrong. Instead, these can ebb and flow as much as the rest of the story, with the tone and lyrics adapting to choices you have made.
To top it all off, there is just an incredibly beautiful art style that envelops this game from start to finish. It has a very comic book feel to it, but the color palate used throughout is very complimentary to the tone of the game. There is even a clear difference in that artistic tone, exhibiting more vibrant colors when you are “in” the music and reliving Alice’s past. And when the songs are playing, the lyrics are actually sung instead of you needing to try and find an imaginary melody in your head.
Normally, I find it hard to stick with a visual novel when there are no extra mini-games to go along with it. Just “playing” out the story tends to run a bit bland for me, but with Across the Grooves that simply wasn’t the case. The nature of the story would have been ruined if there was anything but it and the music. So if you’re one who looks for those extra bits of gameplay this might not be for you. But if you love a good story about growth and character’s learning about their own depth, you’ll soak this one right up.