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Game Info:

Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition
Developed By: Regista
Published By: Sekai Project
Release Date: November 26, 2020
Available On: PC, PS Vita, Switch
ESRB Rating: Mature for Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes, Strong Language
Genre: Visual Novel
Mode: Single Player
Price: $45.99

NOTE: This game covers the Switch port of the original PC release. To avoid unneeded duplication of effort, this will use the text of the original review by IBJamon/Jason Gress, only with "NOTE" appended by me for sections on the Switch port differences. Aside from some minor grammatical fixes, the original text has been unchanged.

Thank you Sekai Project for sending us this game to review!

Root Double -Before Crime * After Days is a visual novel that is now available for the first time in English. This novel is both long and intense, with very detailed story arcs, lots of pseudo-scientific explanations for most of the relevant phenomena, as well as some actual science mixed in for good measure. It explores the backstories of each character in a way that I have never seen before. You will come to understand, if not appreciate, every character quite well before completing this 50+ hour visual novel.

On September 16, 2030, at 6:19 am, there is an explosion at LABO, which is a research facility called the '6th Laboratory of Atomic and Biological Organization'. Almost immediately afterward, a 'Case N' is declared, and massive impenetrable bulkheads come down, sealing several people inside. This situation, called the 'incident', is the main point around which the whole story rests, as all of the main characters are trapped inside seeking escape before the radiation kills them, or worse.

Initially, there are two routes available, route A (or Root After – the homophone seems intentional) and route B (or Root Before). While you may be tempted to start Before first, and you can, it becomes obvious that After really should be read first. After follows one of the main protagonists, Watase Kasasagi, who is a captain of the rescue squad who was sent in to retrieve any survivors. After just a few minutes on site, he appears to have sustained an injury of some kind that has given him complete amnesia.

Route B follows the other protagonist, Natsuhiko Tenkawa. He is a high school student who finds himself caught up in this disaster, and is also trapped inside, along with some friends. His mother, Miyoko, is a world-renowned researcher at LABO, who rarely has time for Natsuhiko because of work. And with his dad having died many years ago, he has few, but very close friends. This is the story leading up to the incident, which also explains why they are there in the first place.

Most visual novels use some form of 'how do you respond to this situation?' menu dialog at some point. Rather than the typical choice 'A or B', this game uses the Senses Sympathy System or SSS. Each time a decision is to be made, rather than outright choosing it, you instead choose, on a scale from 1 to 7, how you feel about that person at that time. When this relates to yourself, it conveys a sense of confidence in your choices, or a lack of it. Making various indirect choices in this way can have a significant impact on what happens next. Often this is in the form of a bad ending, of which there are many. Most choices have an immediate effect, but a few endings are only obtainable by following longer threads of confidence or lack thereof in various characters. There are a veritable ton of endings, with the vast majority of them bad.

NOTE: The Switch control scheme for this game mechanic is mapped to the right analog stick for the selection of your confidence in characters while using the directional pad to make your character selections. I recommend a bit of practice with this, the instructions provided don't indicate this very well.

Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition
Highlights:

Strong Points: 50 hour+ visual novel with a captivating plot filled with intense storytelling; lovable, interesting characters; good Japanese voice acting; great art
Weak Points: Some parts kind of drag on
Moral Warnings: Almost all common curse words present, including 'sh*t', 'd*mn' (with and without God), 'hell', 'f*ck', 'b*tch', 'b*st*rds', '*ss'; some scenes have gruesome blood, including bullet filled corpses; the atmosphere is at times dark and desperate; psychic abilities portrayed at length, including sending messages, mind reading, and even memory manipulation; some rare sexually suggestive content, with one scene where you can see a woman's breast from behind; one girl seems to like both a guy and a girl

Thankfully, reloading earlier saves is not difficult, as there is a quicksave system as well as normal saves. There are well over a hundred choices throughout Root Double.

NOTE: The Switch adapted this quite well, with quicksaves and normal saves easily reloadable with just a few button presses. The only serious flaw I could find in the control scheme is the sliders in the options menu having a slight delay.

Of the many mysteries uncovered or explained through this novel is the role of a phenomenon called BC. BC stands for 'Beyond Communication' and is what was formerly called ESP, or extrasensory perception. BC allows Communicators (BC users) to be able to use telepathy (sending words, emotions, thoughts, or ideas) and empathy (reading the thoughts of another). BC was often confused with the occult before it was understood to have a scientific basis. According to in-game lore, there is a BC receptor on everyone's brain, and thoughts are transmitted as information between brains using BC particles. It's an interesting, scientifically-sounding basis for the powers as described.

Things in-game, like BC and far more, are all described using scientific language. Once something is learned about, you can quit to the main menu, and read through the TIPS glossary. It explains what is fiction, what is partially fiction, and what is true science and history. It can be confusing in the game, but the TIPS makes it much clearer. And I learned something. I found the explanation of Maxwell's Demon quite fascinating!

NOTE: As an aside to the original review, except for the portrayal of ESP. this game goes out of its way to depict nuclear energy, disaster protocol, rescue services, and other elements based on the real world with a lot of excellent detail. Most of the other science fiction is extrapolated from existing reality-based precedents.

Both Christianity and Buddhism are portrayed in some way in this game. A funeral is done in the Buddhist tradition. Most other religious references are Christian and shown positively. Each chapter starts with a Bible verse, taken for its shock value more than theological, but it sets the tone for that chapter. There is also one minor character that admits to being a Christian, which is fairly rare in Japan and also done well. There are cults or sects mentioned that are not given such a positive treatment, however.

The many plot twists and turns, and the general intensity of the story I found to be quite compelling. It was very hard for me to pull myself away from reading just one more scene when I had more important things to do. Unfortunately, the thrill ride did have plenty of reasons to give me pause before recommending it to others.

For one thing, there is pretty much every common curse word you would hope not to see. While they are used naturally and not without cause, the fact is, every curse word from 'd*mn' (with and without God), 'hell', and '*ss', to 'sh*t', 'b*tch', and 'f*ck' is used. Some scenes are extremely graphic, with bullets through heads or torsos, rooms full of bullet-ridden bodies, as well as burned and charred remains. There is no animation, but a lot of still scenes that depict the blood and violence as described.

The vast majority of the main story doesn't have a ton of sexual content, but it is there. One scene has a male character carrying a well-endowed female. He notices two sensations pressing against his back; he then chides himself on clean thoughts. There is another case where a woman is injured in her back, and a man has to clean her wound, which requires her to remove her top. You see her breasts from the rear/side, and the male character handles the situation like a gentleman. There is no sex of any kind in this game, other than a mention of a relationship that birthed a child.

Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 48%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 3/10
Sexual Content - 5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 6/10

 

 

One rather odd situation is that in one of the endings, a few of the characters have some kind of love triangle going. Two girls and a guy, and the guy cannot decide. One of the girls seems to like both the guy and the other girl. Oddly, they all seem at peace with this for now. A third girl wants into the triangle, as she feels left out...

As has already been implied, there is plenty of psychic-like BC happening. These scenes somewhat remind me of what some New Age materials teach about what reading minds are like. I would caution anyone playing that the 'I wish this were true' thoughts are quite likely here, and ideas like that can lead to curiosity about the occult or New Age practices. So I would not recommend this to teenagers or those who understand the Truth enough to have a prepared defense against these things as a result.

NOTE: Curiously, this section of the game content attempts to be scientific-sounding on the surface, but functions like the pop culture/occult version of telepathy in practice. Even serious real-world research into ESP and telepathic communication has not advanced beyond unproven theory. The version depicted in this game, despite a weak attempt at scientific plausibility, has no basis on anything either science or God could agree makes any sense nor is remotely practicable in reality.

Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition is an extremely well written and engaging visual novel that I would highly recommend to older visual novel fans that can properly take into account the appropriateness issues above. There is plenty of content, and the localization is great, along with enjoyable voice acting, despite being all in Japanese. Though my children were automatically drawn to watch me read this story, I had to ultimately keep them away, and I would suggest you do the same with any children or those predisposed to occult ideas.

NOTE: I came away with the same conclusions, and the Switch port is well adapted. I played this on a handheld Switch and found it loaded fast, was easy to read, and had no issues displaying the game content.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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