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Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition review for PS Vita, PC


Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PC
Publisher: Sekai Project
Developer: Regista/Sekai Project
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

Here’s a good rule of thumb for any work of fiction: if you can skip over a whole bunch of content and then drop back into the story without any difficulty whatsoever, it’s a probably a sign that the work of fiction in question could good a good edit. It’s true for novels, it’s true for movies, and it’s true for video games.

In fact, I’d say it goes double for visual novels like Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition. And, I have to admit, I’m speaking from accidental experience. See, the game boasts of a gameplay mechanic called the “Senses Sympathy System” (SSS), which allows you to shape its story by setting your level of friendliness towards each of the main characters you encounter. You trigger the SSS by pressing Select — which, as anyone who’s held a Vita knows, is right next to the Start button, which, in turn, is how you fast-forward text in this game.

Needless to say, there were several times where I went to trigger the SSS — and several more where I just meant to pause the game, forgetting that you do that with another button — which led to Root Double progressing through its plot at a furious pace…which is how, as I said, I discovered that Root Double’s text could probably have used, say, a second draft.

To be fair, endless exposition and dialogue is kind of Root Double’s thing. In fact, it’s practically its reason for being. As its full title implies, the game tells the story of a horrible disaster from two perspectives: the days leading up to it (that’d be the “Before Crimes” part), as well as its immediate aftermath (“After Days”, naturally). With that much plot to get through, it’s understandable if the game doesn’t skimp on the plot points.

On top of that, Root Double tries to give as full a story as possible for everyone involved. Yes, there are characters who could exist in literally any other Japanese visual novel, and yes, the female characters in particular dress and occasionally act like stereotypes. But, at the same time, Root Double fleshes out more of its characters better than many other games of its ilk. It’d be hypocritical of me to complain about other visual novels being populated by cardboard cutout characters, and then also complain here, when the characters aren’t cutout-y enough.

I still stick by what I originally sad, though. While it’s great that Root Double strives to give players something more than the standard visual novel experience, there’s still something to be said for economy and brevity. I feel like there’s a middle ground between nothing but clichés for a less than ten hours, and requiring 60+ hours to tell a full story, you know? With a good editor, Root Double probably could’ve been great. As it stands, it’s more the kind of visual novel that you’ve really got to be willing to commit to.

Sekai Project provided us with a Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B