Publisher: Sekai Games
Release: November 26, 2020
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Also on: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita
Root Double is a visual novel set in the future, where telepathy (called “Beyond Communication”, or “BC” in the game) is taught in school to elite students. The game starts with two different stories to choose from: after the incident and before the incident. The incident is an explosion at a nuclear power plant in the center of the city. You can choose which path you want to start with, however, the game does have the “after the incident” scenario listed first, which is the preferred path as this plays into the mystery of the game much better.
The stories revolve around two different protagonists. The “after the event” storyline revolves around Watase Kasasagi, the captain of the rescue team sent into the nuclear power plant to save the researchers working at the stie. The “before the event” storyline revolves around Natsuhiko Tenkawa, a high school student at the BC elite school when the event happens.
After you complete the first two stories, a third storyline called “Current” unlocks. After completing the Current storyline, a fourth and final story opens called Root Double.
Since this is a visual novel, there is going to be a lot of reading involved. As a player, you do have the ability to influence the game’s story through the Senses Sympathy System (SSS). The SSS is a wheel that has all the characters that you have met so far situated around it. At certain points in the game, when the story is about to branch into different paths, you are given the ability to change how you feel about each character. The higher the points you give to the character, the more you trust that character. You can even adjust the points you assign to the protagonist, indicating how much you trust their judgement in the different scenes. When the SSS appears in the right hand corner, it will have a circle around it with three different colors, indicating how your choices will affect the branching storyline. A blue circle indicates that the decisions you make will influence your relationship with the character, but not with the story outcome. A yellow circle indicates that your decision will influence the character’s actions and will have consequences in the story. And finally, a red circle indicates that the decision you make is a critical one and could result in an unfortunate end. The inclusion of such a tool to drive the outcome of the game is a unique way to incorporate the player into how the story plays out and it also allows you to have more than one play through, as your decisions will influence different outcomes.
Visually the game is well done. The characters look straight out of an anime and each one is talentedly voice acted in Japanese with English subtitles. Probably the most underrated aspect of the game is the music, as it sets the tone for each section perfectly. I chuckled when I was playing through a comical bit of the game, and the music added a lot to that overall experience.
The story is well written and intriguing. As stated earlier in the review, you can choose which path you want to start with, either before or after the incident, but you’ll spoil some of the mystery if you start with the before the incident story first. It seems counter-intuitive, but when you play the “before the incident” story second, you’ll find yourself saying “I know that character!” and it shines a different light on the entire game. Much like many visual novels from Japan, this isn’t a game for younger children, the language and humor is geared towards young adults and more mature audiences.