Root Letter: Last Answer Switch Review

When an old friend writes you a letter saying she killed someone, what would you do?

But of course, go for a wild goose chase and look for her all around the prefecture of Shimane!
Root letter, an interactive visual novel developed by Kadokawa Games, came out on PS4 all the way back to 2016 and it was a secret little gem. Critics applauded it’s art style and plot while being a bit miffed about it’s linearity and inconclusive endings, of which the game had multiple.
Root Letter: Last answer is Kadokawa’s… answer to these critiques, remastering the game by offering a whole re-haul of the game’s art style, now in crisp live action quality, retouching the menu system, adding quality of life improvements and shedding more light on the plot by adding a few new endings.

Aya’s real life counterpart is enchanting.

You are Max, a 32 year old man from Tokyo. While tidying up your flat you discover an old pack of letters wrote by your old pen pal: Aya Fumino.
She wrote from the prefecture of Shimane while you were in high school: it was a back and forth between the two of you, talking about the struggle of school social interaction, dreams and ambitions.
Lost in memories and emotions, you notice there is one last letter from Aya you never opened: “I killed someone, I must atone for my sins”.
Why don’t you remember of this last letter? Why would Aya do something so out of character? Where is she now?
Full of questions and the resolution to find them, you leave for Shimane to look for your lost pen pal and find out what happened to her.

A bit rude.

The first thing that strikes the eye is the new live action style of the game. Root letter use an exquisite anime style when it launched back in 2016, by artist Mino Taro. For this re-release every locale, character and event in game has been recreated using real life actors and shots of the prefecture of Shimane in Japan. This gives the game an incredible, refreshing look that creates a much deeper bond with the player, dropped in a much more immersive and intimate environment.

Mino Taro’s art style translates perfectly to real life, with a maniacal attention to detail.

Every game chapter begins by reading one of the letters from Aya. Max will try to remember what he replied for every letter received and the answers given will affect the game’s outcome and the ending received. During our investigations, we have the ability to scan our surroundings and discover extra details but rarely this is used to offer vital information about the plot at hand.
Max can talk to various characters during the game, show evidences and use the option “think” when in a pinch about what to do. This makes the game extremely linear and even though we can move to different places through an useful map, the way to go is usually one and only one.

The map is easy to navigate, but the place to go to progress the story is always only one.

Soon we realise the game’s structure introduces one of Aya’s childhood friends per chapter and our goal is to get them to talk about the past by making leverage on their insecurities.
This is where the game “Investigation Mode” comes to play: following information and evidences gathered, we need to tackle Aya’s friends verbally, finding discrepancies in their stories and using evidences and our wits to corner them. Five wrong answers and the character will leave, leading to a game over.
We can use a Max Mode at key points, where we have to choose the most suitable replies to push our “enemy” over the edge and confess. Even if interesting on the surface, Max mode ends up being another linear experience, as using the wrong answer doesn’t detract any of our life points and never leads to a different development in the conversation.

Max Mode in action.

Despite the game’s linearity, the plot is so twisted and intriguing it’s very hard to put the game down and Kadokawa Games made sure to streamline the experience a bit more this time around.
A useful diagram shows us what ending our answers to Aya’s letters will lead to, making it much easier to see every epilogue the game offers.
The item menu has been completely redesigned for a much easier navigation.
We can now skip between chapters and generally the game is much easier to navigate and enjoy.
On a negative side, the developers didn’t clean up all the typos and syntax errors that plagued the previous version of the game. The end result is a product that isn’t as polished as it could’ve been.

Excuse me, what?

Big mention goes to the game voice acting and music: performance quality is top notch, characterisation is brilliant and the lines are delivered with an exquisite taste. The game is translated in multiple languages but only Japanese is available for voices.
Lastly, the game music is a delight for our ears, showcasing traditional Japanese music mixed with more upbeat modern tunes, in a cocktail of old and new that works incredibly well.

The game’s soundtrack beautifully underlines key moments of the game

In conclusion, Root Letter: Last Answer is a competent re-release that adds just enough for the most avid fan to come back for more reading and offers more for whoever approaches the game for the first time, surprising with an incredible plot and stunning visuals, may them be live or drawn.

A huge thank you to PQube for providing the review code. Root Letter: Last Answer is available now both physically and digitally on the Nintendo eShop for £24.99/$29.99/€29.99.

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