If you’ve been pining for something new to read and you haven’t yet caught up on some of the greatest visual novels of the last few years, a new Visual Novel Bundle announced by our friends at Funstock could be just the thing to keep you occupied for a good long while!
Consisting of three great games — Root Letter: Last Answer, Root Film and BUSTAFELLOWS — the Visual Novel Bundle is available exclusively for Nintendo Switch and retails for £69.99. Click here to nab yourself a copy.
Need a little more convincing? Let’s take a look at each of the component parts in turn, then.
Root Letter: Last Answer
Heading up the Visual Novel Bundle lineup is Root Letter: Last Answer, the inaugural installment in the “Kadokawa Games Mystery” series. The original intention of this series was to establish a cast of “virtual actors” who would appear in multiple games playing different roles, though for one reason or another this initial concept was abandoned. Instead, the series now focuses on telling compelling narratives in well-realised virtual representations of real world locales — to date, mostly focusing on Shimane Prefecture in Japan.
The premise for Root Letter is that you’ve just received an unexpected letter from a former penpal named Aya Fumino. Oddly, the letter seems to bear no postmark and raises more than a few questions in your mind — most notably because it appears to be Aya’s confession to a murder. So you set off for your former stomping grounds of Matsue, capital of Shimane Prefecture, in an attempt to get to the bottom of what is going on.
Upon arrival you discover that Aya is seemingly long dead and the plot where her house once stood lies abandoned. Not only that, but you’re getting conflicting stories about what actually happened — and no-one really seems to want to talk about it. As such, you’re going to have to track down all your old friends and wring the truth out of them by fair means or foul, and eventually determine what on Earth is going on.
Root Letter unfolds as a combination of visual novel and adventure game. You’re able to manually move between locations, examine items and interact with characters — though the main narrative is, for the most part, strictly linear. The various narrative routes it’s possible to progress down are largely determined by the way in which you respond to a series of letters at the start of each chapter — and each of those conclusions are very different to one another, so all are worth seeking out!
Root Letter is also noteworthy for its Ace Attorney-style interrogation mechanics, in which you have to squeeze the truth out of people by logically arguing against the things they are saying and pointing out the contradictions. There’s a particularly memorable mechanic where you can choose how “intensely” you’re going to press your point — sometimes a soft touch is called for, while at others blowing your top is the way to go!
Root Letter: Last Answer is an enhanced version of the original Root Letter, which adds some additional narrative content, plus the option to switch between the original hand-drawn artwork by Love Plus artist Taro Minoboshi (better known as Mino Taro) and photographic imagery of live-action actors and locations. However you choose to play, it’s a fantastic, compelling story that should not be missed.
While Root Film is the spiritual successor to Root Letter, no knowledge of one is required to appreciate the latter — the one thing they have in common is their setting in Shimane Prefecture, Japan, but otherwise they unfold completely independently.
In Root Film, there are two stories to follow: one focusing on film director Yagumo, and the other focusing on actress Riho. Both are split into chapters, each with their own central mystery to solve, though there is an overarching plot that ties everything together, too.
Like Root Letter, Root Film unfolds in the style of classic Japanese adventure games in that you can visit various locations, examine objects and speak to witnesses — though you’re given a little less “freedom” in terms of the actions you can perform in Root Film, so things are arguably kept a little more focused.
There are still plenty of puzzles to solve, though — most notably during the climactic encounters of each chapter, in which you’ll need to uncover the truth behind a particular situation by using the various pieces of information you acquired during your investigations. It’s a really satisfying mechanic, and helps really drive some of the plot’s key points home.
Despite having a lot in common with Root Letter in terms of theme and tone, Root Film is a markedly distinct game that is well worth experiencing in its own right. And with the Visual Novel Bundle, you can easily compare and contrast the two approaches to interactive mystery stories!
Finally, the last entry in the Visual Novel Bundle is also the most recent release: the excellent BUSTAFELLOWS. This is a crime thriller with a touch of the mysterious about it: our protagonist Teuta has the curious ability to jump short distances back in time and possess the body of random individuals, and thus potentially has the ability to change the way things unfold! And you can bet she’s going to need to do that on more than one occasion by the time things wrap up.
In BUSTAFELLOWS, the way you interact with the cast will determine down which of the various narrative paths you’ll proceed — and who you will get to know a whole lot better. You’ll need to make good use of Teuta’s notebook to keep track of information, and figure out the best way to approach a variety of weird, wonderful and downright dangerous situations.
Featuring a colourful cast of memorable characters, a beautifully realised setting, stunning visuals and an incredibly compelling story, BUSTAFELLOWS was a huge hit in Japan and was hotly requested for localisation with good reason. Now it’s finally with us, and the Visual Novel Bundle is a great way of getting your hands on it — along with two other fantastic mystery stories to explore.
All three games in the Visual Novel Bundle are physical versions for Nintendo Switch. To grab a bundle for yourself, click here.
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