Developed By: Regista Published By: Sekai Project, Strictly Limited Games Categories: Visual Novel Release Date: 11.26.20 Composer: Takuma Satou
*The Following Review is Spoiler Free*
I can’t say I play too many visual novels nowadays unless they’re a hybrid affair such as the Ace Attorney series. Perhaps it’s an issue with accessibility, as so many traditional visual novels stay on the PC. However, in recent years more and more have been hitting consoles, and in Root Double’s case, the Switch. I personally think visual novels are perfect for handheld systems such as the Switch for it’s touch screen and pick up and play nature.
Root Double revolves around a grand disaster happening at a place named LABO. Nine people are trapped inside with seemingly no way out and it’s up to you, an amnesiac rescue worker to figure out what is happening before radiation in the facility kills you all. You’re given two paths before beginning. After the disaster, and before it. Both having drastically different feels with one being much more dramatic, high stakes, and the other being closer to a high school anime. Despite this, they both link together and you’ll need to play both in order to get a true, final path. Discussing all of that, I cannot help but think the premise is incredibly generic. Sure, an amnesiac allows for the player to learn with the character, but in Root Double’s case, it involves a lot of explaining about how things work, as if the player is ignorant. It’s almost redundant at times. There is also a Tip menu, which is just a little area to explain words even further. Considering the game is M Rated, you would assume the players would know what a few of these words mean.
Despite the generic premise, I was invested in the story and characters. The dialogue is well written and the characters aren’t skin deep. I didn’t quite care for a few at first, but grew to appreciate and sympathise with them as time goes on, which is great because…
What sets the game apart, and is honestly my favorite part is the Senses Sympathy System. This is Root Double’s choice system. At points, an Enneagram pops up, this is when you input senses. Do you trust someone talking to you or have confidence in yourself? Raise the senses accordingly. It turns blue when it’s related to how someone feels, these can be ignored at times, but I like to fiddle with them depending on dialog. Yellow is for actions, these are more important. Red is of utmost importance, and are when there is grave danger. It’s so refreshing to not just have a dialogue choice, but instead put more of an emotional feel into choices. Occasionally you’ll even have to adjust senses for multiple targets at once. These choices are final until another Enneagram pops up, so if you like experimenting, save beforehand. A character might have a poor first impression, but warm up to you, or vice versa, this makes moving the senses great.
I don’t think the character art is bad, but the characters all seem be a bit too cheap anime looking. Too cute, all look really quite young, despite some being professionals. It’s one thing to have the young schoolgirls who seem helpless to be super cute, but it’s another for teachers and rescue workers, who are much older to be just as cute. This is never too distracting or detrimental to my enjoyment, but it’s not my cup of tea. Otherwise, I think the game looks nice. It definitely has that lower budget visual novel look, but it could be worse.
The game is full voiced, which for longer visual novels is a godsend. As I don’t really understand Japanese too much, I can’t in good faith say if it’s good acting or not, but it sounds good enough. That said, one character in particular’s voice is ear grating, you’ll know which I’m talking about. While in game, I didn’t get a good grasp of the music, as the settings for it by default might have it covered up by the other audio, so I decided to listen to it outside of the game. I was greeted by some really nice music giving me vibes of PlayStation RPG music, and to my surprise, the composer doesn’t have the biggest or oldest catalog. I was impressed. Pose the Question to this World was a favorite of mine.
Root Double has one hell of a slow start. You don’t get access to the game’s key mechanic until a bit of an introduction that drags on. You don’t even really get a deep enough feel for characters until well into playing, which considering how bad some first impressions are, is unfortunate. This all might make it hard to recommend the game for people who don’t play visual novels, but the genre itself is rather niche in the first place. As someone who seldom plays the genre though, I did genuinely want to stick it out to see how everything developed, and it admirable that the game could do that, as it is hard to make a story worth getting invested in.
Buy Now: $45.99 Digital – €49.99 Physical
*Game Download Code supplied for review purposes