- Developer: KADOKAWA Games
- Publisher: PQube Limited
- Release Date: 30/08/2019
- Price: £ 24.99 / $ 29.99
- Review code provided by PQube Limited
It’s a mystery!
Root Letter is a visual novel originally published in 2016 for the PS4 and Vita. This year it was updated to Root Letter: Last answer and ported to our beloved portable console, the Nintendo Switch. In this spoiler-free review we’re going to have a look if this game is something you should carry next to your heart.
While sorting through a pile of old stuff, you come across a letter from your penpal Aya Fumino. What’s strange about it is that first the letter isn’t postmarked meaning that it was actually never mailed to you and second that your penpal vanished fifteen years ago. The contents of the letter force you into action and you decide to find out has happened back then. You set out to Matsue, Shimane Prefecture and talk to Aya’s old classmates. You know about them because Aya mentioned them in the other eight letters you exchanged. However, you only know their nicknames and which school they went to, so it’ll be a lot of detective work.
How deep should I dig?
The game is structured into chapters. Each of those start with reading one of Aya’s letters and centers the friend mentioned in it. Your task is to nail down the friend and bring her or him to spill knowledge about Aya and the mystery of what happened to her. To do this you will have to ask people the right questions show them the right items of your inventory or put the right amount of pressure on them by playing a mini-game called Max-Mode.
Being a visual novel, moving through the story of Root Letter is a linear experience. It is, however, a visual novel with different endings, so the choices you make are reflected in the ending you get. Also, to be able to enjoy all the different endings, you have to complete the game at least once.
What a style!
Root Letter: Last Answer can be enjoyed in two different artstyles. There is the classic drawn anime style as well as a modern and very fresh looking style that blends photos of actors and surroundings into the game. The latter style looks so good and accompanies the story so well that I never went back after trying it out. Be warned, though, that the actors often overexaggurate their expressions like in the silent films of old, but for me this just adds to the charm of the game.
As you do a lot of reading in Root Letter (hint, it’s a novel) the music should help you get along. In fact, the music really does that. Mostly it’s an easy, free-flowing tune with just a hit of sadness. During Max-Mode or investigations, when you have to press Aya’s old friends for information, the music gets a little more dramatic, but then returns back to the slightly haunting tune of before. I wouldn’t say it’s a catchy music, but I still can’t get it out of my head.
Creeping around the past
Root Letter has no high demands on the hardware so it runs well both docked and handheld. In fact, playing handheld is really enjoyable especially if you relax in bed just solving one more chapter before going to sleep. Apart from some typos, grammatical and formatting errors Root Letter is a bug free experience. Some items could have been placed better in the environment as it is hard to detect them in the “Check” sessions, but they’re no show-stoppers.
Root Letter: Last Answer is not only a mystery visual novel. It tells an important story about remembering the past and of the changes all of us have to go through when we turn into adults. The protagonists of the game have to live with the consequences of their decisions. Not all of them are happy about how they turned out, and as a result need to be forced to remember. This makes them relatable to us and the story a deep one.
- Well-paced story
- High replayability because of the multiple endings
- Great artstyle
If you are into mystery stories, you need to get this game. It’s well written and funny even if the story itself can be sad at times.