Root Film Review (Switch)
Release Date: March 19, 2021
File Size: 4.8GB
Developer: Kadokawa Games
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
In my slow (but steady) takeover of SwitchRPG, I have yet another visual novel (well…technically a point-and-click adventure game…) on the docket! As the spiritual successor to 2016’s Root Letter, Root Film has been one of many games I’ve been eagerly anticipating this year. However, what I didn’t know is whether it would live up to the hype, or if its mysteries would ultimately lead to disappointment.
Root Film is told from two different perspectives: Riho, the actress, and Yagumo, the director. Both characters find themselves caught up in the middle of a few murder cases, and you’ll need to collect clues in order to figure out who the true culprits are. Riho and Yagumo’s sections play out in different timelines – you can choose to do either a chapter for Riho or a chapter for Yagumo, with each having their own set of characters and locations.
In Yagumo’s section, he has been chosen as one of three directors to create a mystery drama that had originally been planned for release ten years ago, but was mysteriously shelved. And as you solve cases, the overarching mystery slowly starts to reveal itself. As for Riho, she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a few murders after traveling around with her manager.
There is only one ending in the game, so you don’t have to worry about fulfilling specific objectives in hopes of avoiding a “bad” ending in hopes of getting the “good” or “true” one. As a result, the replay value isn’t as high as many of the other visual novels on the Switch, especially if you prefer multiple runs with varying outcomes. Moreover, side content in general is virtually nonexistent; there are a couple of characters who appear to ease the tension, but they don’t really add anything to the plot or expand on the characters whatsoever.
While Root Film is considered the successor to Root Letter, the two aren’t directly related. There are a few minor similarities, though, mainly with the main characters sharing the name Max (they are not the same character, however) and some voice actresses returning for different roles. Regardless, you don’t need to play Root Letter to enjoy Root Film.
The script itself is, unfortunately, riddled with grammatical errors. While not enough of a distraction to completely break immersion, they are still a bit unsightly and bothersome.
Root Film is a point-and-click adventure game where you navigate around to collect clues tied to cases. Depending on which part of Shimane you are in, you will be able to go to specific locations in the surrounding area. In each area, you’ll usually be able to examine multiple points of interest, or speak to a couple of people to glean more information about a case.
And in typical point and click fashion, you will need to investigate the same points multiple times to make sure you get all of the information so you don’t have to backtrack later. Even if it seems that you’ve gotten enough information out of any one spot, you’ll still want to double check just in case there’s more than meets the eye.
As you’re collecting information, certain observations or statements will stick out to Riho and Yagumo, made obvious by a sudden freeze-frame and the text placed against a red background. Both characters have synesthesia, which allows them to remember key points of information. These moments happen at random, so you will not have to choose which statements to note, and which to ignore. Of course, that does mean that some information is not useful for the case.
These statements act as your inventory, so to say, as they are used during the “solution” part of the chapter where you will interrogate people to figure out the truth about a case. Known as Max Mode, you and the other character will appear at opposing sides of the screen and a bar will appear at the top. At this point, a conversation will occur and at certain points, you will need to select a statement that best fits. Some of these are quite obvious, while other “solutions” may leave you scratching your head.
Depending on the evidence stated, points will grow towards the “truth resolved” or “unresolved” section. If truth resolved is filled, then you “win” that round of interrogation and continue on with the story. But if unresolved is filled, you will end up with a game over.
I always enjoy when games embrace their themes, and Root Film does so nicely. The UI leans into its filmography inspirations by using many film motifs. The anime-inspired character art accented with heavy black lines helps them “pop” against the backgrounds – a nice touch that lets Root Film stand out amongst its peers.
The music and voice acting are top notch, and while the former may not be as diverse as some of the other genre offerings, it ultimately does an excellent job of setting the mood, hitting especially hard when it comes to the darker and creepier moments of the narrative. As for the voice acting, the entire script outside of the inner monologues and narration is fully voice acted. And what I find really cool is that, outside of a couple of the cast, most of the voice actors seem to be newer talents. One of the side director characters in-game is an actual director, at that (that’s pretty neat!).
Quite a few people, myself included, have claimed that this game is “a great alternative for Ace Attorney fans.” There are not a lot of high-quality mystery adventure games in the modern market, but thankfully, Root Film represents the genre well (outside of the aforementioned grammatical errors).
I do wish that the interrogation sections had a bit more weight to them, though. While I’m ultimately fine with how they were executed, I often felt as though the rounds ended a bit too early. Even towards the end, when it feels as though there should be more tension, the feeling kind of plateaus due to the quick nature of Max Mode.
Overall, Root Film is put together nicely. For those looking for a fun mystery adventure/visual novel, definitely give it a chance.