Muv-Luv Alternative review for PS Vita, PC

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PC
Publisher: PQUBE
Developer: ixtl
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

As the final entry in the Muv-Luv trilogy, Muv-Luv Alternative has quite the reputation. Not only is it part of a trilogy that, according to some, is the pinnacle of achievement in the visual novel genre, some consider this game — which was originally released in Japan in 2006 — to be the best part of the trilogy. So if you?re going in expecting the world…well, you?d have every reason to do so.

I should admit up front that, while I kind of liked the first two games in the series, they didn?t blow me away as much as they have others. In particular, the first game, Muv-Luv Extra, seemed like a relic from another time, as you could literally watch all the terrible tropes that have dragged down visual novels over the years getting their start right before your eyes. The second game, Muv-Luv Unlimited, was significantly better, in large part because it traded in its focus on romance for a bit of sci-fi.

The good news about Muv-Luv Alternative is that it continues on this track. It has some romantic elements, to be sure, but at its core, it?s a story of a guy, Takeru Shirogane, trying to save the world. It builds on the already-grandiose plot of the second game and sends it into overdrive, starting in a world where Takeru has been sent back in time to the beginning of the second game, going through some of the same events (with the twist that Takeru is aware that he?s reliving the past with the opportunity to change the future), and then rocketing on from there.

It?s a lot — which, quite frankly, is both good and bad news. The good part is that Muv-Luv Alternative doesn?t skimp on anything. If you had any lingering questions about how the characters from the first two games wind up, you?re sure to have them answered here. Not only that, because it?s got such an abundance of plot, you?ll never going to feel shortchanged.

Mind you, that?s kind of the bad news, too. Muv-Luv Alternative occasionally seems to forget that editing is a critical part of any good story. All told, going through everything here will take you about fifty hours, which is kind of insane. I?m a pretty avid reader, and I?m struggling to think of any novels — visual or otherwise — that have enough plot to carry a reader through fifty hours. I appreciate that Muv-Luv Alternative?s creators had a lot to say, and had all kinds of twists and turns they wanted to cram in, but at a certain point, ?a lot? starts feeling like ?too much? — and I?d be hard-pressed to argue that this game doesn?t cross that line.

Obviously, the fact that this game is held in such high regard shows that plenty of people would disagree with that assessment. And, quite honestly, I wouldn?t discount those opinions: if you loved the first two parts of the Muv-Luv trilogy, then Muv-Luv Alternative is pretty much guaranteed to round out your experience with a bang.

PQUBE provided us with a Muv-Luv Alternative PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B