Title: Root Letter: Last Answer
Developer: Kadokawa Games
Genre: Fantasy, Puzzle, Visual Novel
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: PEGI 16
Release Date: 30/08/19
Price: £24.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Kadokawa Games originally released Root Letter back in 2016, to critical acclaim for the genre, and is set to be followed up with Root Letter 2 which is currently in development. This is not that sequel and instead serves as a remaster of sorts, with some additional story scenarios implemented to support the five possible endings to the game. It also implements a new “live-action mode”, which essential switches the anime style of graphics to photo-realistic images of actors and real locations in the Japanese City Matsue located in the North West Region Of Japan.
This Visual Novel genre for those unfamiliar with this game type follows a mystery narrative, with click to progress chapters, and QTE (Quick Time Events) to add to the progression of the story. Think Monkey Island meets Shenmue.
The game sees the player as Protagonist Takayuki, who 15 years after correspondence with his Pen-Friend Aya Fumino comes to an abrupt end, decides to fly from Tokyo to Matsue to find out what happened to her.
The 10 Chapters of the game see Takayuki explore the lush scenery of Castles, Temples and Springs in the Northern Regions of Japan, as well as interrogate the 7 mystery friends of Aya Fumino. When I say interrogate, it gets pretty brutal, at one stage force-feeding a poor patisserie chef (conquering a weight problem) chocolate-covered potato chips until he cracks, and making a balding office worker remove his wig. You are often pushing people to breaking point to get the answers to advance the narrative.
The game spans around 10 hours for the initial playthrough, with each of the 4 additional endings afterwards taking 1-2 hours to complete (you restart the game at chapter 9 on each subsequent playthrough). There are certainly moments of joy, with photorealistic scenes that bring the player closer to the fundamentals of Japanese culture.
However, these are often coupled with some weird moments where the Developer has just not got the localisation right. Odd conversations that don’t make sense, and scenes where you are required to click a specific section of the screen that doesn’t work (the solution being to switch back to anime mode, click the correct section, then switch back to live-action).
As a Visual Novel, the game gently leads you through the narrative and draws the player into the emotional turmoil of love, tragedy and friendship. However, the pacing of Chapters, 1-3 made it a considerable challenge to keep the player interested and made it at times an uphill battle to feel connected to the characters along the way.
This game is really for those that love the genre of Visual Novel Mysteries or love a John Grisham; I think you’ll love the rollercoaster and unpredictable conclusion to this story and will be eagerly anticipating the sequel Root Letter 2, for everyone else though this may not be the game for you.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Root Letter: Last Answer from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Root-Letter-Last-Answer-1611854.html
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.