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"Root Double: Before Crime * After Days" Review

A game reviewer for several years, Tobias reviews games from any decade. They tend to ramble about game design and old media.

"Root Double: Before Crime * After Days"

"Root Double: Before Crime * After Days"

Story

Note: I will be as vague as possible while describing the story to avoid any kind of spoiler.

There are two characters the player can choose from when starting a new game.

  1. The first route allows you to play as Watase Kasasagi, a rescue captain called to a massive disaster in a research lab. It is your job to rescue any survivors.
  2. The second route follows Natsuhiko Tenkawa, a gifted high school student who gets pulled into a situation he may not be able to handle.

The stories are intertwined and often reference each other. The story is so well done that I felt glued to my Switch while playing. I am NOT doing the story justice here while trying to avoid spoilers, so definitely check it out.

Graphics

The visuals in this title threw me off a little bit at first. I found them to be a little cute for a dark game like this. However, this actually works in the game's favor, and the art style slowly grew on me. I found myself starting to like the conflicting style and setting. I couldn't see myself feeling as engrossed if the art was just dark and dingy.

Typical cutesy characters and overly clean backgrounds create an unsettling feeling when you know the next scene of carnage or bloodshed is around the corner.

root-double-before-crime-nsw-review

Sound

The sound is fairly average. Some tracks are stronger than others, especially during key scenes. The dialogue, however, is fully voice acted with a strong Japanese cast.

It felt nice to go from playing visual novels with no voice acting to hearing what the characters are supposed to sound like in this title. The voice actors themselves all fit their appropriate roles appropriately and have absolutely no complaints.

Gameplay

For the most part, the gameplay is a standard affair. As is the case with all visual novels, the story is the strong point, while the gameplay is just the vehicle to tell it. The "SSS" system lets you control where the story goes, even if it is a little confusing at certain points.

With the "SSS" system, you can choose how you will react during key scenes and decide whose side you will choose. These decisions can take you on the right path or lead you to a bad end that ends the current game. Luckily, when reaching a game's end screen, it will occasionally throw hints to explain briefly how you could potentially change the situation.

Most, if not all of your choices can have consequences—big or small.

root-double-before-crime-nsw-review

Learning Curve

It can be hard to say that a visual novel has a learning curve. The game is meant to be lost many times to see every possible outcome. Even though the "SSS" system is a tad confusing, it isn't a hard game. You'll just have to learn from your mistakes and try again.

Replay Value

The replay value is a little higher here than other visual novels I have played. The Silver Case, which is my all-time favorite visual novel, took way less time to complete all of the possible scenarios than this game. It has much to offer, with enough content to take at least 20–25 hours to complete. However, I would argue with all of the endings, we are looking at 40–50 hours of replayable content here.

root-double-before-crime-nsw-review

Overall

Root Double is a great game. While not being able to touch on the story in this review for fear of spoiling anything, because the story IS the game in a visual novel, I walk away from this game with a rekindled interest in visual novels.

Considering how well it was made, and how experimental it was attempting to be, I will definitely be following this developer in the future. While Root Double has a few odd design choices, it is an example of how a visual novel should be made. Especially when touching a setting like this.

If I were to give it a star value, I would say it's in the 5-star range.

root-double-before-crime-nsw-review
ProsCons

While it could be unintentional the visuals clash with the story just right

"SSS" system can be a little confusing

Great voicework and some decent tracks

The story is just weird enough to keep me engaged

Verdict

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