Game Info:

Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition
Developed By: Yeti, Regista
Published By: Sekai Project
Release Date: April 27, 2016
Available On: PC, PS Vita, Switch
ESRB Rating: Mature for Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes, Strong Language
Genre: Visual Novel
Mode: Single Player
MSRP: $34.99

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, with 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 back stories of each character in a way that I have never seen before. You will come to understand, if not appreciate, each and every character quite well before completing this 50+ hour visual novel.

On September 16, 2030 at 6:19am, 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, that also explains why they are there in the first place.

Root Double -Before Crime

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; 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

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.  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.

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 actually true science and history.  It can be confusing in game, but the TIPS make it much clearer.  And I definitely learned something.  I found the explanation of Maxwell's Demon quite fascinating!

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 actually Christian, and shown in a positive way.  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 clearly had more important things to do.  Unfortunately, the thrill ride did have plenty of reasons to give me pause before recommending it to others.

Root Double -Before Crime
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 86%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 4/5
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

For one thing, there is pretty much every common curse word you would hope not to see.  While they are use 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' are 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 which 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 mention of a relationship that birthed a child.  *begin spoilers* 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... *end spoilers*

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 is 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.

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.

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Jason Gress

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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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