Review of Root Letter

rootletter

Back during my middle school days I used to have a foreign pen pal. She ceased writing to me once I sent her the postal stamps from my country that she desired for her collection. Ouch, I felt so used. Unable to trust people ever again I retreated to the world of video games, hiding away from human contact in my bedroom. That torrid tale explains why I am a hermit who spends his free time reading visual novels. Call me overly sensitive if you must, but the past is too painful for my fragile heart to bear. Anyways, enough with the sob stories let us move on and review another fine PlayStation Vita release. Oh, this one looks good. Root Letter from Kadokawa Games and published in the west by PQube. According to the synopsis the game deals with a chap who is searching for his missing pen pal…. pen pal?!? Nooooo. Ingrid why did you abandon me? Didn’t you like my stamps? Waaaah!

OVERVIEW

Root Letter is a mystery visual novel starring a bloke named Takayuki. The game begins with our protagonist partaking in a spot of spring-cleaning. Whilst sorting through old correspondences from former pen pal Aya Fumino he stumbles across an unopened letter. Curious, he opens the note only to discover a written confession from Aya were she remorsefully admits to committing murder. What would you do after making such a morbid discovery? Dismiss the message as a childish prank? Report the matter to the police? Well you could, but that wouldn’t make for a very interesting video game would it? Takayuki doesn’t want to star in a game that is duller than Desert Bus so he travels to Aya’s hometown of Matsue in search of answers. When he arrives Takayuki learns from locals that Aya perished twenty-five years ago. Huh? That can’t be right. Since when do the deceased send out snail mail?

Channelling his inner Fox Mulder, Takayuki sets off in search of clues to solve the pen pal conundrum. Is there a logical explanation or could supernatural forces really be at work? The investigation won’t be easy though, as the townsfolk all deny knowing Aya. His only lead are the friends mentioned in Aya’s correspondence. Unfortunately for Takayuki he doesn’t know the true monikers of Aya’s chums because her letters only mention their nicknames. Locating the fabled Four-Eyes, Snappy, Shorty, Monkey, Bestie, Bitch and Fatty is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Wait a minute. Bitch? Fatty? Those nicknames are rather disparaging. Perhaps the aforementioned friends killed Aya after being insulted one too many times. No one likes being called obese or a female dog. To be honest I have committed homicide for much less.

VERDICT

My rating for Root Letter is three and a half stars. The game starts slow, but after the first chapter I got hooked in hunting down Aya’s childhood acquaintances. Root Letter isn’t the best-written visual novel on Sony’s handheld, but I still enjoyed its nice soundtrack and anime rendition of Shimane Prefecture’s picturesque tourist sites. Unlike some other visual novels there is a fair bit of interactivity in Root Letter. To advance the narrative players will have to use a magnifying glass to check locations for clues. Phoenix Wright fans will be happy to hear that the game contains some interrogation sequences too. During these segments Takayuki interviews suspects by asking questions and uses the evidence he has previously procured to challenge their testimony. If your detective skills match those of Inspector Clouseau worry not because hints are readily available by selecting the “think” command from the in-game menu.

Overall I had a grand time playing through Root Letter. The original ending I got wasn’t great, but with a total of five finales to unlock most readers should find a conclusion they enjoy. Outcomes range from romantic to downright silliness involving extra terrestrials (looks like the writers may have been fans of Silent Hill.) After playing Root Letter my faith in pen pals has been rejuvenated. Perhaps the time has come for me to be less anti-social and open up to others? Coincidently I received an email from a Russian lady the other day expressing the desire to become friends. Maybe she could become my new pen pal? Unlike that hussy Ingrid she doesn’t expect me to furnish her with stamps. All she requests is that I provide her with my bank details and social security number. What could possibly go wrong?

19 thoughts on “Review of Root Letter

    • The story is pretty linear, although there are a couple of optional side quests (in one you track down the mascot character and in the other you gather ingredients to mix a drink.) When asking questions one choice will normally advance the plot whilst anything else is just flavor text.

      Only the choices you make when responding to the letters influences what ending you get. If you pick the first option mostly you get the first ending, if you pick the second choice mostly you get the second ending etc. Some of the endings only unlock after you complete the game once. Thankfully when replaying the game you can skip past the first seven chapters.

      • Thanks for letting me know. That is my only frustration with visual novels I feel there should be more option or gaming elements such as Long Live the Queen or Telltale Walking Dead series. I am quite fussy with what I play though.

  1. RE: your Russian lady friend. Perhaps you could impress her if you became wealthy. There is this doctor friend of mine in Nigeria who recently won the lottery but cannot claim his 10 million dollar prize. He would be willing to split the prize in exchange for your bank account details.

    I’d hate to see you lose out.

  2. Being used for stamps? Ouch. Your shunning of human contact is completely understandable.

    This sounds like an interesting VN. I don’t actually play any but these days, I’m being tempted. Reviews like these don’t help. Or they do, depending on how you look at it.

    Great review. And good luck with the Russian lady who wants to rob you.

  3. Hey now, I’ll have you know Desert Bus is a very exciting game. Sometimes you can veer too much to the right, get stuck and have to be towed back to the start… in real time! πŸ˜€

  4. I hope someday karma gets revenge on behalf of your stamps! See, I only send my money to people who really need money badly. Like I must be the only one who can help them since they write “Dear Mr. Krystallina”. Perhaps if they have more money, they would have time to research interesting facts like my gender.

    Root Letter seemed to have come out at a bad time. Sounds interesting, but I think the world is still in Sun/Moon and FFXV fever.

    • As a video game player I appreciate it when developers add interactive elements to visual novels. If the story is strong enough though I am okay with just reading and basking in the artwork/music.

  5. I’m sold on the nicknames that were given, if I wasn’t in public I’d be laughing rather than looking weird trying to hold it in. Man, the stamp collecting girl sounds like one icy bitch but on the other hand this Russian lady sounds like an absolute treat!

  6. Holy lord, forget what I’m even going to say about the game; you’re traitorous pen pal caused me quite a twinge of pain. I’m very empathetic and super sensitive to boot so I can commiserate so ouch indeed 😦 I had an English pen pal myself, but we just fell out of touch after I graduated from college. Thankfully, she never used me for stamps. We sent each other books, and she once drew me a picture of Aeris and Sephiroth as elves.

    This game sounds quite intriguing. I don’t have a Vita yet so I’m debating if I should add it to my ever expanding backlog hmmm.

  7. Personally, I think the game is packed with human emotions–the art direction and game design allowed me to experience that. Now that I think about it, Aya reminded me of myself a bit and maybe that is why I feel connected to the game.

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