√Letter (Root Letter) Review

…I’ve killed someone. I have to repent for my sin. This will be my last letter. Goodbye.

These are the last sentence from the last letter that you received from your Pen Pal, Fumino Aya, 15 years ago. After you, The Main Character, finds a letter dedicated to you from her that was never sent, you set out on a journey to Shimane Prefecture to find the truth behind the letter, & her disappearance 15 years ago.

Before we go into an in-depth review of the game, please take a look of the trailer to get the “feel” of the game, and don’t forget to turn on the English Closed Captions.

Alright, as you have seen in the trailer. This game is basically a Mystery Game, and it’s a Visual Novel. And before we go on, i’ll just let you know that this game is set to be released for the Western Market on Fall 2016 by PQube.

Okay, let’s get into an in-depth review of the game.

  • Story
    So you set on a journey to Shimane Prefecture to find out what really happened 15 years ago and where is Aya at the moment. On the letters she sent to us 15 years ago, she told us about her 7 best friends.Their nicknames are Saru, Bitch, Debu, Gari, Megane, Chibi, & Shinyuu. You’ll have to find them based on the information of their nicknames. What awaits us in the end of story? Where is Aya? What happened 15 years ago? Play the story and you’ll find out about it.
    There are 5 endings to the game (Thanks Kadokawa for letting us know something we don’t want to know), and you can only reach the true ending on the 2nd play through. There are only 3 routes on the first play through, the other 2 routes will be added on your 2nd playthrough, including the True Ending.
    Basically on the beginning of every chapter, the main character will read the letter he got from Aya, and he’ll try to remember what was his answer towards her letter. You get to choose the answers you wrote to her, and this is what defines which route you are going to take.
    Personally, i can’t say too much about the story part because it’ll be a spoiler (Duh).
    But what i can say that the True Ending route is really satisfying. The story is very well made and surprising.
    A solid 9/10 for the story.

  • Gameplay
    I have to remind you guys from the beginning. This is a japanese visual novel, which means there won’t be any actions, it will be text, text , & text. You’ll be reading a novel as game. Total of 10 Chapters, with Chapter 9 & 10 serve as the “Ending’s Chapters”. Each chapter has a similar routine:
    ・Replying Aya’s Letter
    On your 1st playthrough you can only choose from 3 replies, but on the 2nd playthrough, you can choose from 5 replies. (*HINT* This is how you choose the route, by picking the same answers. )
    ・Finding the Clue
    The game will provide you with “Search” marker, which you can use to find clues on the screen. I’ll say that the game is kind of similar to Ace Attorney. You’ll be trying to rip the truth out from Aya’s friends’ mouth. And you’ll be using the clues that you found for the next step, which is….
    You can only make 5 mistakes during the interrogation before you start the interrogation from the beginning again. It’s quite fun, i enjoyed the interrogation part very well, because you actually have to THINK before showing the evidences.
    The only problem is that the game has a system called MAX Mode. It’s basically like  Phoenix Wright’s “Objection”, but you have to choose what you want to say.

    MAX Mode

    The real problem is that even if you make mistakes, there won’t be any penalty for you. You’ll just keep choosing the choices until you get the right one. And sometimes, there are extra choices that will appear under special conditions.
    I only have problems with the Max Mode not having any penalties for making mistake, other than that it was fun.
    An 8/10 for the gameplay.

  • Sound
    Most of the time you’ll be hearing is the “Over The Truth” bgm, which you can hear on the trailer above. The arrangement for the musics are great and it fits every situations in the game.
    And the ending song is by Lon – Junai Rhapsody. It’s actually a cover song of Takeuchi Mariya’s song from ’94 of the same name. (Click on the link for the Original & Cover version).
    An 8/10 for the sound.

  • Graphics
    Basically every places on the game is based on a real place on Shimane Prefecture. There’s nothing much to say about the graphics, as mostly it’s just a still image, but it’s beautiful. Consider yourself is on a virtual trip to Shimane!

    The mascot of the game, Shimanekko

    The character designer is the famous Mine Taro, who is mostly known for his previous work on Love Plus.

    Fumino Aya
  • The Verdict
    I must say that this game has a solid foundation for a Visual Novel game, which is STORYThe story is very well made, each characters have a unique personality, and it’s up to you what kind of truth you’ll find at the end of your journey. I enjoyed the story very much, and the True Ending is satisfying. I recommend that you finish the other endings first and save the True Ending for the last playthrough. It’s too bad that the promotion for this game reveals too much information. Like how many endings it has, etc. It’s a mystery game, and you shouldn’t reveal too much infomations about it. It’ll make it less mysterious.
    If you like Visual Novel, and want to try your hand on a Visual Novel game, this is a good game for you to start. It’s not too heavy, and it’s not too light. Just about enough balance of both.

The Score: 8.5 / 10
You must play the game if you like something with story oriented. But be careful, a Visual Novel game isn’t for everyone.

Thanks for reading

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