Disclaimer: This review of Root Letter: Last Answer was written using a code provided to me by the game’s publisher. This does not affect my judgement of the game and is explained for the purposes of transparency.
Root Letter was a game published back in 2016. Often heralded as one of the absolute must-play visual novel games, the game launched on PS4, PC, Android, iOS and Vita (y’all remember Vita?!). Root Letter: Last Answer is a revamp of the much-loved original. It adds the option to choose live-action sequences over the original animated sequences. As well as this the game promises new scenarios, which take place after the game’s various endings.
Root Letter: Last Answer follows the story of a man, nicknamed Max, and his quest to discover the truth of what happened to his pen-pal. While Max was in school, he became pen-pals with a schoolgirl named Fumino Aya. The two discussed all sorts of things, until one day the character receives a letter from Aya. She states she had killed someone and that the two of them wouldn’t be speaking again. 15 years later, you decide to head to the town Aya told you she lived in. You hope to track down her classmates and learn what happened to Aya, and even hopefully meet her.
In terms of gameplay, the bulk of the game plays with a menu system of sorts. On the right side of the screen, you have options for things like Ask (ask a person a question), Check (check the surroundings) and Move (move to another location). All fairly standard stuff. You ask people around the town questions about Aya. You must then use the information you gain to work out the identities of Aya’s classmates. It’s all fairly standard in terms of gameplay. However, there are some very nice extra touches.
Firstly you have the “Think” option, in the right-hand menu. I used this quite a bit during my playthrough. Should you find yourself stumped of where to go, or what question to ask next, you can think and Max will feed you hints. Sometimes these are subtle, other times not so much. They are, however, always useful. A very nice addition to the gameplay, and one that I welcomed with open arms.
Next, you have “Max Mode”. This is essentially used to accuse other characters of things. It is most often used when confronting people you believe of being Aya’s classmates. Max Mode is a mini-game of sorts and is not as simple as it seems. A segmented circle appears on the screen, with each segment being a different response. The circle fills up, from the bottom to the top. You must hit A when the circle is filled and the response you want is on the screen. Max will then seemingly scream this response at the person, and they will answer accordingly.
The circle doesn’t just fill up though. Sometimes it half fills and then starts again, sometimes it jumps about. It all adds to the experience of the mini-game. Luckily there is no penalty for an incorrect answer. Max just kind of goes “Oh no, not the right answer? Wait lemme try again” and you get another attempt.
The last part of the gameplay is probably my favourite. The investigation segments of the game are, to me, what made the game memorable. The story itself is very good and plays out well. But I will always remember the game for its investigation segments. In these segments, you interrogate someone that you believe to be one of Aya’s classmates. You present them with the evidence you have gathered to prove their identity. You must prove their claims false until they finally admit who they are. Each investigation only gives you a few chances. Ask the wrong question, or present the wrong evidence, and lose a chance. Once you are out of lives, it’s over. The game is rather forgiving though and instantly restarts itself from the beginning of the investigation.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, the game has several endings. The ending you get depends on the responses you choose to Aya’s letters. Each chapter of the game starts with Max reading one of the letters. He then attempts to remember what he said. The player chooses which responses they want, and this shape the way the game plays out. And the endings aren’t slightly different. They are wildly different, so there is a fair amount of replayability to the game. In terms of graphics and audio, the game doesn’t really do anything wrong I don’t feel. Everything sounds as you would expect and the new live-action sequences are very nice.
I don’t have much bad to say about Root Letter: Last Answer truth be told. I was hooked from the get go. Though I must admit, I am not a fan of the multiple endings. I do know what ending I feel the game should’ve had, and it is one of the endings you can obtain. I won’t say more than that. However, even with that I still feel that Root Letter: Last Answer is certainly a must-play for those looking to play the game for the first time. Or even for those of you looking to get into the visual-novel genre. For those of you who played the original Root Letter, I wouldn’t say you are missing out on anything.
Root Letter: Last Answer to a nice update to a classic visual novel. The live-action sequences are a nice touch, and having the game on Switch is very nice. However, I do feel like the game could have had one ending, rather than multiple endings. Those of you who have played Root Letter need not buy this game. However, those of you looking to get into the genre, or finally experience Root Letter, should definitely get it.