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Game Info:

Rewrite+
Developed By: Visual Arts/Key
Published By: Sekai Project
Release Date: December 17, 2021
Available On: Windows (Also PSP, PS3, PS4, and PS Vita in Japanese)
ESRB Rating: N/A
Genre: Visual Novel
Mode: Single Player
MSRP: $49.99

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

Visual Arts/Key is known for writing some of the most highly regarded visual novels (also called VNs) in the medium, and for good reason. They pioneered the 'nakige' visual novel, which is a game that encourages the reader to cry. I have reviewed several other of their novels, and can confirm. Rewrite+ does absolutely have sad scenes, and a few may break your heart, but overall, I found the focus of this story to be a bit different than Key's other visual novels that I've read so far.

Rewrite is their ninth game, the sixth one I've reviewed, and the first one released in the 16:9 aspect ratio. It is quite long; it took me about seventy eight hours to read everything there is to see, including the secret ending. It's very close in length to Little Busters!, and has some format similarities as well, but it also has some unique aspects that really sets it apart.

Rewrite+ starts off with our protagonist, Tennouji Kotarou, looking to inject more meaning into his life. He's a second-year high school student, and feels like his circle of friends is too small, and he wants to make more meaningful memories. His closest friend is his neighbor and childhood friend Kanbe Kotori, and he considers Yoshino Haruhiko one of his good friends also, though it's more of a rivalry. Despite this, he feels that he's wasting his youth, and wants to do something about this.

Kotarou is generally kind and outgoing, though he's a bit of a prankster and curious to a fault. He also has a bit of a perverted side that he usually keeps in check. It's not long into the story that he starts experiencing odd supernatural events, where he's having bad dreams, or being woken up at night while feeling like his life is in danger. It is these events that drive him to search out someone who can help do something about it.

Kotarou and Kotori hear about rumors of there being a witch on campus, and they begin an investigation trying to find her, as she is rather elusive and rarely goes to class. They hope that she can help him to keep these evil spirits away. Thus begins the rebirth of the Occult Research Society, led by the third-year student Senri Akane.

Rewrite+
Highlights:

Strong Points: Fantastic story, that is quite emotionally engaging; lovable characters; excellent music; really great art
Weak Points: Small amount of bugs and untranslated text remains after first patch
Moral Warnings: Violence, death, and even gore described in text, though little blood shown in pictures; language 'd*mn', 'sh*t', '*ss', 'b*tch' and 'b*st*rd' used; God's name used in vain; magical powers present and used often; supernatural and human enemies; ecological issues are a major plot point; evolution and apocalypse play major roles in the story; sexual humor throughout; panty shots shown once or twice; sex implied in a route, but nothing shown

He also makes other close friends during his time before and after reforming the Society, including the transfer student Ohtori Chihaya, the class rep Konohana Lucia, and the only first year, Nakatsu Sizuru. Of course they are all ladies, and each of them is a potential romantic interest route for our main guy Kotarou. While some characters do intertwine with the others quite a bit, each route is very distinct and the future you have with each is quite different. I found a recommendation to read them in the order of Kotori's route first, then Chihaya, Sizuru, Lucia, and Akane. Having done so, I completely agree with that assessment.

Like most other Key works, past the common and relationship routes is a set of true routes. These are quite distinct from the others, but require the background you gain playing them all first. I am not going to say a thing about this, other than to say they are amazing and absolutely worth the already extensive time put in by this point. These aren't there to just fill out some quick ending; they are incredibly meaty and longer than many VNs I've played on their own.

While most Key VNs have a supernatural element to them, the inclusion of political and even combat elements make this one unusual. While the outcome is not something you have direct control over outside of narrative choices (it's a story, not a game), as you play each route you get to see the differences between factions, meet more characters or learn more about them, and have a personal impact on the future. There are mysteries to solve, evils to stop, and so on. That, along with the underlying romances being developed, keeps the story moving and kept me glued to my screen - leading to some rather late nights.

Thankfully, one area that isn't different is the art and especially the music are spectacular. I found myself wishing there were a few more characters and scenarios with dedicated backgrounds (though there are already quite a few of those), but overall the quality of the art is high. The music is simply superb. Jun Maeda and friends continue to do a fabulous job composing truly moving pieces of music that really drives the mood forward. Few people can write music that can drive you to tears just by hearing it alone better than those folks over at Key.

Unfortunately, the current state of the VN is at least a little bit unfinished. Don't get me wrong - if you buy the game today, you can absolutely enjoy it to completion, as I did. But there are small bits of untranslated text in a few places, and a few video clips with no translated text in them. It's nothing major, and Sekai Project has promised to get it all sorted out, but it's worth noting. Thankfully, the first major patch did fix a lot of it, so I'm sure that the next one will, too. Outside of this, the English translation is mostly excellent, and the Japanese voice acting is also very good. If you are already immersed into the world of VNs and games or anime with Japanese voice acting, I'm sure you'll enjoy it immensely.

From an appropriateness standpoint, there is a lot to take in. I would say that the target audience of older teens is a good one, since there is no explicit sexual content, but there is still a lot to talk about.

To start with, PG-13 level curse words are used, like 'd*mn', 'sh*t', '*ss', 'b*tch' and 'b*st*rd'. God's name used in vain, with phrases like 'G*dd*mn' used as the situation calls for it. There are quite a few violent acts, taken against and by the protagonist. Death is a regular occurrence all around. Humans are often found cut up or bitten into pieces, though thankfully without excessive details. Not much is shown, but mostly described. Enemies range from beasts and people to more powerful, legendary creatures.

Some routes have Kotarou killing people, while others do not. One route has him having implied (presumably premarital) sex with his partner, while most do not. Nothing is explained or described; they simply do not deny an accusation of this happening. One quest has you collecting porn magazines; nothing is shown to the player.

A quest worth noting is that Kotarou agrees to be a guinea pig for a woman, and in exchange, he bets her that supernatural phenomena exists, since she doesn't believe it does. He will be allowed to touch her breasts if he's successful. There are a few other scenes where he catches a glimpse of a girl's panties, and during one scene, the player can choose to pray that she leans over, so he can see them - and it happens if he prays for it. This is shown to the player. This is one of three scenes that were altered/censored for the Steam release; CGs (another term for still backgrounds in VNs) were used from the original Rewrite rather than the Japanese Rewrite+ version which added a bit more 'stuff' that was seen. I have looked over the differences and in all three cases, I believe the original/censored versions are arguably superior - especially the Lucia one, since it fits the storyline in that segment much better.

Rewrite+
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay: 17/20
Graphics: 9/10
Sound/Music: 10/10
Stability/Polish: 4/5
Controls/Interface: 5/5

Morality Score - 54%
Violence: 4/10
Language: 3/10
Sexual Content/Nudity: 4/10
Occult/Supernatural: 9/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 7/10

Much of the plot revolves around a perceived upcoming ecological disaster. The Earth is given only a short time left, and humanity is the cause. A religious order that worships the Earth, or more specifically a messenger from the Earth, exists and plays a prominent role. (More detail is in the upcoming spoilered segment.)

Note: The paragraph below will contain necessary spoilers to explain the rest of the appropriateness issues. Only read if you don't mind this. I did try to avoid endgame spoilers as much as possible, but not entirely.

 

 


The religious group mentioned above desires to save the Earth at the cost of humanity. They are opposed by another group, who desires to preserve humanity as it is. Druids also play a role in one of the routes.

Magic circles are used, beasts are summoned, and some humans have powerful abilities. All of these abilities cost the user some of their life force; they are exchanging longevity in place of power in the nearer term.

The messenger from the Earth that was previously mentioned is stated to be the cause for other worldwide ecological disasters, including Noah's flood from Genesis. This messenger is said to wield an omnipotent power. Evolution is used as the mechanism for species to be restored post-apocalypse.

If all other routes and quests are completed, there is an 'Oppai' (Japanese for breasts) ending available that is incredibly silly, but sees people exclaiming the virtues of 'boobs' to attain world peace. In this section, a love interest is sad because they say they 'do not have boobs'.

While the above appropriateness issues mentioned above are significant, they also play a relatively small role compared to the full scale of this seventy-plus hour visual novel. Rewrite+ is a massive work, and is incredibly well written with twists and turns throughout, and a deep mystery with the future of humanity at stake. Also, the sacrifices made in order to achieve personal happiness are quite breathtaking at times. To say I enjoyed Rewrite+ would be an understatement; I basically didn't move from my desk for as many hours as I could while not ignoring my other responsibilities; I'm sure my wife is thrilled that it's over.

Rewrite+, for the right audience, could be the perfect mix of slice of life, emotional turmoil, and humor along with the action and suspense that other Visual Arts/Key VNs lack. While I'm not ready to say it's 'better' than their more well known works like CLANNAD, which brings the tears like few other stories do, it's certainly worth reading. If you have any interest in VNs at all, I highly recommend you give Rewrite+ a good look.

About the Author

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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