The Language of Love review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also on: Xbox One, PC, Switch
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: ebi-hime
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

I don?t expect much from visual novels. I?ve played a lot of them over the years — mostly because of my obsession with playing every single game that came out on the Vita — so I know what I?m getting into any time I start one up: lots of reading, and occasionally the option to nudge the story in one direction or another. They?re undemanding, but if that?s what you go in expecting, you won?t be let down.

And yet, somehow, The Language of Love falls well short of that incredibly low bar.

Even by the standards of visual novels, there?s not a lot here. Yes, it brags about being 80,000 words long, but it?s absurdly linear. Boy meets girl (well, 23-year-old man meets girl). Boy meets girl?s mom. Boy babysits while mom works. Boy and mom fall for each other. The end. There?s nothing unpredictable here, nor is there anything very memorable that happens. There?s never any doubt where the story will wind up. The closest this game gets to tension is when the couple and the kid go for a walk in the woods at night, and the kid disappears for a few moments. She shows up moments later unharmed, though, so not even that moment goes anywhere interesting.

It doesn?t help that the characters are so flat and lifeless. The 23-year-old man is Mitsuki, a guy who?s gone back to school and needs a place to live. The female love interest is Kyouko, a 24-year-old single mom. And there?s Tama, the six-year-old daughter. None of them are particularly interesting to read about. Kyouko talks about how plain she is and how glad she is to have a babysitter. Tama is precocious. And Mitsuki is kind of prone to doing pervy things like talking about his gaze lingering on Kyouko?s chest, and joking about his nose bleeding. It?s not exactly a character-driven plot, either.

It should come as no surprise that such an undemanding story is equally undemanding in what it asks of players. The Language of Love is the kind of visual novel where, if you?re so inclined, you could set it to move forward automatically, and never again have to press another button. (In fact, if you want the easiest, quickest Platinum imaginable, you can also set it to fast-forward through the next, and the Platinum will pop within five minutes.) There are no choices to be made, no branching storylines, no twists — no reason why you might need to pay attention to figure out what to do next. The story starts, the story ends, and there?s nothing you need to do in between.

As I said, I know that Visual novels aren?t the most demanding genre, but the good ones still reward you in some way, even if it?s just with an engaging story. The Language of Love doesn?t even have that, which means it?s very safe to skip it.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a Language of Love PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: D+