Reviewed by Lachlan
- Developer: MAGES., 5pb.
- Publisher: Numskull Games
- Release Date: 04/10/2019
- Price: $49.99 / £44.99
- Review code provided by Numskull Games
- Physical Edition Link
Yu-No what I’m talking about
The visual novel genre is known for its in-depth storytelling, anime-style visuals, branching paths and fan service. A lot of those elements were established early on, with Yu-No being one of the earliest examples of the branching narrative-style of progressing a story in that format. It was also a rather lewd game, with overtly sexual content throughout, though in re-releases of the game the sexual content has been censored somewhat. Some revere Yu-No as a true classic of the genre, and thankfully the game has made its way to the Switch in the form of a remake.
You play as Takuya Arima, known as the “walking libido” due to his penchant for lewd comments and behaviour. He is a failing student, living alone with his stepmother due to his father’s death. His father somehow sends Takuya a package containing a letter spouting nonsense about parallel worlds and time travel that’s not really time travel. It also contained a weird device, that is supposed to have ten jewels, though only has four. He is to take the device to a designated location at a specific time, and from there, the story begins to unfold.
Essentially, the story is about time travelling through parallel worlds to find out what happened to your father, who has apparently disappeared rather than died. As the story unravels, things begin to become both clearer and more complex. Besides the strong storytelling, what really makes Yu-No’s narrative work is its strong cast of characters. The characters interactions also feel deliberate, with their reactions being a natural way that they would react in those situations and circumstances. There is also a lot of mystery with some of the characters, and information about those people are delivered expertly, helping to add intrigue and give the game’s story excellent pacing.
The gameplay Yu-No and love
As a visual novel, the way you interface with the game is quite simple. You are presented with a picture of a static environment, overlaid with a bunch of icons you can click on to investigate or interact with. To do that, you move a cursor around with the sticks, and select whatever you feel like looking into. On the side of the screen is a suggestion of a location to go to, which will help push the story forward. You can also pick up certain items, which can be useful as you progress.
It is a simple system on its surface, though there are elements to it that are hidden. You can use the device your father sent you to show where different story paths branch off, which story paths you have already gone down, as well as see where and in which pathway the missing jewels are hidden. Nabbing those jewels can be tricky, and requires the use of a jewel save, something that isn’t explained to you, and is generally found through trial and error.
If you select one of the jewels on the device, that jewel will disappear, adding a load point to the pathways that the device shows. You can reclaim the jewel simply by loading up the jewel save you created. This is different to a hard save, as whatever you do before you reload a jewel save carries over, so if you acquire a new jewel, you’ll keep it when you load up a jewel save. Why this is important is that you need all the jewels to get the true ending, and some of the jewels are collected in a way that will prevent moving down a particular pathway to its ideal conclusion.
Because of the way the jewels are handled, it is entirely possible to play through a pathway and never realise that you can even interact with the device. That said, the story does hint that you need to do more to successfully complete the game, which is what invites experimentation with its systems.
NSFW visual flair
Although no nudity appears in the game, Yu-No still does show quite a lot of images that are very sexual in nature. As such, this game is not recommended to be played at work or on a busy train commute. Besides the fan service artwork in the game, all of the character designs are incredible and well crafted, really nailing the anime look. The different poses and expressions suit the conversations, and it helps to sell this as a high-end visual novel. The environments are great as well, which is also a plus.
The voice over work is all in Japanese, and is done to a high standard. There is also a great soundtrack that accompanies the entire game, helping to create the mood and atmosphere of every situation.
A bonus game? Don’t mind if I do!
A freebie comes with copies of the game in the form of an 8-bit side scrolling platformer. You play as Yu-No, continuing through a timeline until you get swallowed up and die. To avoid this, you can collect jewels, and are able to use them to jump between parallel universes to collect the items needed to reach the final boss. The game plays much like the original Wonder Boy, and was a surprisingly fun addition to the game.
The music and presentation is outstanding, and it seems a lot of care has been put into this little pack-in game. After completing the game you unlock a nightmare mode, which adds some replayability to it, though you’ll knock over a complete play through in about an hour or two, depending on how quickly you work out the mechanics in the game.
As far as visual novels go, Yu-No really is required playing. It is a game that holds up, both with its mechanics and storytelling, and the remake pretties up the visuals to give it a spectacular look that brings it up to par with other games in the genre today. If you love visual novels, then you owe it to yourself to give this game a shot.
- Beautiful visual design
- Intriguing and well told story
- Loveable cast of characters
- Great VO and audio design
- May be too lewd for some
Yu-No is arguably one of the best visual novels of all time, let alone on the Switch. The story is well told, with excellent characters, brilliant art and superb audio design. The sexual content may be a bit much for some, but those not fazed by fan service will be in for a real treat.