Visual Novel Reviews: Rewrite

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Hey there boys and girls! For this review I’m gonna be using the 1-game format like I did last article and probably will continue to do so for all future reviews going forward. Hopefully this will cut down on the delay between articles. Besides, I think I yammer on enough about one game as-is to warrant each getting its own post!

So the topic for this review shall be Rewrite!

Rewrite-menu

Rewrite is the latest Visual Novel by the oh-so-famous folks at Key and boy, just uttering that name creates all sorts of expectations doesn’t it? They’ve seemingly cranked out one memorable game after another and out of every Visual Novel maker I can think of, they’re probably the one most people who don’t even play such games would recognize. For myself though, I haven’t been as enthused about their games honestly. Starting with ONE (which I detested), I’ve thought of their games with the exception of Planetarian as merely average (Discounting all of the Little Buster games that I haven’t played as I’m waiting on the translation of Ecstasy and Kud Wafter).

That said, even with my opinion of Key games being what it is, you still feel more than a little excitement to see a new game from them, and so I headed into this with more than a few expectations. So how did it hold up to those expectations? Well, in some regards it fulfilled them and in others it fell woefully short.

Let’s start with presentation first before we get ahead of ourselves here though. As I said, this is a Key game and when it comes to its presentation it has all the strengths and weaknesses of a typical Key game, namely the music is wonderful and the art is fairly mediocre haha… First on the music side of things it doesn’t disappoint at all from the great opening to the ending songs it’s all an absolute joy to listen to. While the character themes aren’t quite as strong as they were in say, Little Busters, they’re certainly still a step above the rest of the competition. You’ll also notice that the game is in glorious 720p resolution — thank God! More and more games are adopting wide screen resolutions and I couldn’t be happier (Now all they need to do is get to 1080p!).

This bump up in resolution comes with a lovely UI being supported by Visual Art’s new Visual Novel engine. Features of it include a slick pop-up radial menu, a nifty little moving icon in the bottom left affected by story choices, and a huge suite of options in its menu. You’re given a large number of tools to manage your save games (Including an auto-save function, which is unheard of in the VN world!) and vast control over practically every aspect of the game you could want. This game probably has one of the best and most comprehensive engines I’ve seen to date and it was a joy to see it in action! Sadly all this loveliness isn’t always supported by Key’s art as always. While the art assets have improved considerably over previous games like Clannad, the designs and overall art still don’t match up to the otherwise high quality feeling of the game.

"Lucia is angry at how cheap the art assets are in this game! Still that UI is lovely~"
“Lucia is angry at how cheap the art assets are in this game! Still that UI is lovely~”

Probably the biggest offender is what’s missing…Namely character sprites. For some reason that I can only guess was a lack of time or manpower many MANY characters in the game simply lack character sprites. If this was simply “mob characters” or side ones that only appear briefly I could write it off, but they’ve neglected to give extremely important side characters with speaking roles and main antagonists sprites which leaves you staring at empty backgrounds for large tracts of time. Sadly, seeing as Key’s main artist is one of their founders I doubt this problem will go away anytime soon, and even though it bothered me at first, it quickly took a back seat to the story…Or rather the many issues I had with the story.

To start with the positive though the common route is GREAT! As fitting a Key title there is large amounts of fun to be had here, and while the humor can be a bit juvenile it almost always had me laughing out loud at it. No small part of that is due to the various girls in the game that each have very interesting personalities and leave a strong impression almost immediately  Key has long been known for making more than a few characters that are…how to say…borderline mentally retarded. While  this made them cute to some I can see how it can be extremely grating to others, but thankfully Key went a different direction this time and made each and everyone of the characters extremely intelligent and capable (Well ok Chihaya is a bit of an idiot but she’s far from incapable).

"It would have been awesome if the art had been as good as the animated second opening...Oh well at least the common route was as heart warming as this image shows!"
“It would have been awesome if the art had been as good as the animated second opening…Oh well at least the common route was as heart warming as this image shows!”

While the common route does a wonderful job of getting to know the girls and have a great time with them the individual girls routes is where things begin to go horribly wrong. Probably the biggest oddity is just how massively different each route is from one another where they literally shift into entirely different genre’s from one another. I’ll do a brief mini review and break down of each to help lend some understanding.

In play order:

  • Lucia: Begins with creepy horror elements then jumps to romance then jumps to a political thriller. At least the route does have some romance but the genre shifts are handled extremely poorly.
  • Kotori: Probably the best written and most “Key-like” route. Very internalized with lots of those classic “Sad Key Girl” moments. Very little romance but it at least has SOME sexual tension to it.
  • Chihaya: The exact opposite of Kotori’s. A very straight-up almost Shonen like route with battles and lots of side characters. Probably the most enjoyable one for me, but it also has almost no romance in it.
  • Shizuru: Again a thriller like Lucia’s, but with more of a personal level focus instead of a more global one like Lucia’s. Barely any romance to speak of and probably one of the worst epilogues ever.
  • Akane: A goddamn mess. A sad precursor for how utterly terrible the “True” routes will be. Again no romance because its too concerned with boring you about the inner workings of a literally faceless organization and scandals.
"There's a lot of relationships in this game though sadly the friend tag doesn't change much for most of the girls it feels..."
“There’s a lot of relationships in this game though sadly the friend tag doesn’t change much for most of the girls it feels…”

As you can probably see, the unifying thing here is the utter lack of romance in this game. Yes it is an all-ages game, but just because you remove the sex doesn’t mean you cut out romance as well! Just to tell you there’s ONE real kiss scene in the entire damn game (unless you want to count secret girl which carries with it as much romantic feeling as kissing a rock…) and you’re lucky if you even get to hug the girl in your route. In every last one of these routes save for Lucia you just keep the girl at arms reach never really expressing any sort of genuine affection for the girls whatsoever. The game is so busy trying to tell these large in scope stories it just completely discards any notion of romancing these girls altogether.

This fact is made all the more frustrating by the AMAZING voice acting of the girls. They really do an absolute stellar job across the board with the lines they are given and really make you care about the girls. But sadly the story never gives them a chance to make you feel the common routes sparks ignite into some passion between your character and them instead just keeping you at a distance constantly…it’s all just so disappointing. There is a secret 6th girl who is the focus of the last two “True” routes, but unfortunately she’s as boring as boring can possibly get. An unemotional lump that the game tries to convince you the main character fell in love with despite the fact that you have absolutely no chemistry with her and are provided with not one scene that makes you feel like theirs any real emotion behind his confession other then “the writers say so”. This problem sadly crops up in the other girls routes as well, probably worst of all in Chihaya’s.

The lack of romance could somewhat be excused if the game could at least nail its other aspects, but it can’t even do that. All of the fight scenes except for maybe Lucia’s end one are extremely dull and un-engaging. They rely far too much on pretty pre-rendered effects and the same reused CGs over and over. Some don’t even bother with a CG and only ONCE is ANYTHING bloody shown despite the graphic descriptions…The best you can hope for is a flash of red light on the screen and that’s it. You don’t see so much as a scratch on any of the characters or anything violent in the least beyond one lousy CG. Meanwhile the overall story told across the entire game while being suitably high stakes never delivers much tension or interesting drama at any point…It all just comes off feeling very immature and  PG-ish at best.

It really boils down to the problem that the individual routes in general don’t build upon the great things that the common route setup…Instead they quite literally discard most of it and rush headlong into telling these “bigger” stories while leaving silly notions like nuanced emotions and  deeper personal connections with characters by the wayside. I sadly can’t really expand on these criticisms without massively spoiling the game but all I can tell you is by the time I finished the game all I felt was disappointment at what they had done with such wonderful characters. From looking at the Fan Disc Key later released it seems to address this problem nicely, but for the game at hand this is not a “Romance” game in the least. It starts as an enjoyable game in general but ends as a disappointing bloated self-important piece of junk with no heart and a terribly silly ending.

Verdict:

Play it for the common route and maybe Chihaya’s and Kotori’s routes. Otherwise don’t go near it with a ten foot pole ESPECIALLY if you’re someone like me who enjoys the romance aspect of Visual Novels most.

"Oh Takako don't worry you'll always be #1 to me!"
“Oh Takako don’t worry you’ll always be #1 to me!”

And now for a quick summary of all the other various games I’ve played lately!

Otoboku: An older very standard-ish Harem eroge, but it has some solid characters and a surprisingly enjoyable story. I’d honestly say give it a shot as the selection of girls covers pretty much all of the bases and it’s almost Yuri vibes make for a pretty fun game all things considered.

Moero Downhill Night Blaze: Its another Moero game just like the ones that came before it…Well except they stuck in some driving game bits with PS1 graphics and car handling that makes you feel like you’re driving a really crappy go-kart. Wouldn’t bother with it personally.

Sono Hanabira 6/8: Again these are additions to long running series where nothing much has changed…High sexual content of the Yuri variety while light on story mainly focused on a pair of girls. That said 8 in particular has probably my favorite couple thus far from the series and is worth taking a look at if you never played a game in the series before.

Rance III: If you want a nostalgia trip you could do far worse then this classic. Obviously not nearly as refined as more modern games its still a great trip to the past of eroge history.

Slave Witch April: Bland fap game not really worth your time…Like most fap games its short on choices and story. Art is merely ok sadly.

And that’s that! I’m planning on writing another general Visual Novel list in the very near future and maybe ACTUALLY do a figure review! Amazing I know…

Until then folks take care of yourselves!

23 replies on “Visual Novel Reviews: Rewrite”

Are you retard ? Calling all the routes with history bad ones ? Why did you play rewrite then ? You disgust me.

Wow dude, you sure respect other people’s opinions c:

On topic: I have to agree with you, Rewrite wasn’t as good as I thought it will be (because of the lack of romance; yes, I am too one of those who enjoys, mostly, the romantic visual novels), and it was a shame for me, because I liked the settings (there was a lot of actions, magic, superpowers, stuff, and I totally loved the characters.) My favourite routes were Lucia, Kotori and maybe Chihaya, although my favourite heroine was Shizuru (sadly, her ending left me “what…?”, I was really dissapointed xD)
Overall, the lack of romance made me kind of sad (yet again, I’m a romance-genre fan, so it’s just my personal viewpoint), but I enjoyed the visual novel neverthless (not as much as Clannad or Little Busters!, but at least I finished it *not like others that totally bored him*)
Now I’m waiting for Harvest Festa, to see if they will focus more in romance there~ xD
PD: Nice review, thanks :3!

Haha its fine I’m happy for replies whether they be positive or negative!

But like you said the lack of romance really got to me among other things. I probably would have said Lucia’s route was worth playing if it wasn’t for that end…I dunno I loved the route up until they started going crazy.

Awesome a hate post! *sniff* people care enough to hate! I’m honored sir! I would shake your hand if I met you IRL!

As for hating them mah I think I explained it well enough (God knows I wrote enough!), but if you need me to expand on any issues I had with the story let me know. ^_^

The thing is, Rewrite wasn’t supposed to be a romance. If that’s what it was marketed to you as, I could understand be disappointed. I enjoyed it as a morality tale with strong shounen vibes.

That maybe true for the Japanese market and those that like to look Research what they play but for the average English language Eroge player like myself all you see is “Key Visual Novel.

Now Visual Novels in and of themselves generally carry the preconceived notion that there will be romance and everything Key has ever done featured it prominently so there’s no reason to think otherwise. That’s not exactly their fault but I try to write these from the typical English Eroge player perspective. ^_^

Putting aside the prejudices I had I probably wouldn’t have been quite so hard on it if I felt the non-romance elements worked, but my problem with the True route and ending extended beyond the lack of romance. Sadly I didn’t really go into detail about my issues with it because I was desperately trying to avoid spoilers.

Suffice it to say it failed to be even entertaining shonen schlock for me. :/

But you brought up a great point thanks for the comment!

Such a shame this turned out to be like this.

I was one of those people that was first exposed to Key with their anime adaptations. I enjoyed Air, I like Kanon, and Clannad probably messed with me more than I would have expected. Overall it was an enjoyable experience.

I also realized that the works these shows were adapted from was not Key’s latest. I figured ah, a new work by Key I wonder what they are capable now.

Sadly not what I expected at all. Sure they didn’t need to make another romance and could focus on the variety of other scenarios if they wanted but there are some expectations that I have after their other works. From your rants on Skype and this review it’s quite obvious they missed the mark with this VN, I wonder if it was just a desire to try out something new.

I actually enjoy the anime adapts far more then their games (The key ones anyway). That probably is due to the fact that I find Key’s art both for the characters and the game UIs to be ugly and I’m a whore for pretty things! :p

But yea I dunno…Jun stepped down from writing duties but I don’t entirely see why that would change things so drastically? Key games before now while not always stellar for more were at least enjoyable. This has parts of that but a lot that very much wasn’t.

Well, I’d just like to say that this review felt like a giant middle finger to me. Of course, I’m not going to respond with an unintellectual hate comment like most others probably would. Instead, I’ll take you up on your offer of expanding on the issues you had with the story.

“Lucia: Begins with creepy horror elements then jumps to romance then jumps to a political thriller. At least the route does have some romance but the genre shifts are handled extremely poorly.”

Fair enough, though I don’t know why people such a big issue of the genre shifts. Yes they’re there, yes they’re rather jarring, but really, does that kind of story need a smooth transition between genres? I might even argue that the political thriller idea is a bunch of bull but that’s beside the point.

“Kotori: Probably the best written and most ‘Key-like’ route. Very internalized with lots of those classic ‘Sad Key Girl’ moments. Very little romance but it at least has SOME sexual tension to it.”

Sexual Tension? What? (I’m not saying there isn’t any, I just didn’t feel any or rather didn’t notice any) I can’t argue against most “Key-like” since everyone whose had more experience with Key novels than I do seem to agree.

“Chihaya: The exact opposite of Kotori’s. A very straight-up almost Shonen like route with battles and lots of side characters. Probably the most enjoyable one for me, but it also has almost no romance in it.”

Completely agree with the lack of romance, but since Chihaya’s was my least favorite heroine, I didn’t care. Given that Chihaya’s route has a lot of battles in it, I guess I’ll comment on Shounen aspect you seem to hate. While I agree that there is a lot of reuse of CGs, the route wasn’t about the battles (though everyone seems to like to call Chihaya’s route the shounen route). It was about Kotarou’s wish to grow stronger and protect Chihaya.

“All of the fight scenes except for maybe Lucia’s end one are extremely dull and unengaging”

This is a visual novel, a form of media that requires very little user engagement. I don’t know why you were expecting the fight scenes to be engaging… Yes there are novels that have more user engagement but those novels are not the norm.

“Shizuru: Again a thriller like Lucia’s, but with more of a personal level focus instead of a more global one like Lucia’s. Barely any romance to speak of and probably one of the worst epilogues ever.”

Pretty much all three reviews I’ve read about Rewrite hated Shizuru’s ending and I still don’t understand why. I can’t really expand on this because spoilers but I immensely enjoyed the symbolism in it and I guess I’m the only one.

“Akane: A goddamn mess. A sad precursor for how utterly terrible the “True” routes will be. Again no romance because its too concerned with boring you about the inner workings of a literally faceless organization and scandals.”

What? Through out the entire novel, you always heard of Gaia but you never really know what Gaia is all about until you play this route. If that aspect of describing the entire organization bored you, thats fine, but I wouldn’t list it as a negative aspect of the game.

I do my best to not finger people so my apologies for that! Haha I’m glad to hear that I didn’t enrage you enough to troll post at least! ^_^

Mmm on Kotori I’d say the scene where he stumbles in on her half-naked kinda set the tone for that. Its the only instance where we saw that much skin plus a few more scenes in the sanctuary just gave me that typical feeling. Throw in the fact that he asked her about before and the general tone of their conversations makes it feel like it has all the classic hallmarks of that dynamic to me heh.

Haha what can I say I’ve been spoiled by the fight scenes in games like FSN and Princess Waltz so I tend to hold things up to their standard. :p

You’ll need to give me some links of these reviews as I’m intrigued now! Mmm I liked how it tied in with what we learned in Chihaya’s route nicely at the absolute end, but I could have done without all the survivor journal nonsense.

Haha what can I say I just wanted to spend time with Senri. If they had kept her personality and interactions with you more similar to what you got in the common route alongside the Gaia info I wouldn’t have minded as much.

Lol, I am reminded of the Clannad anime as I read this. For a married couple, the most sexually charged thing I saw between Nagisa and Tomoya is *gasp* HAND-HOLDING. I liked Clannad for a lot of other things, but MAN that aspect of it is dry as hell.

It’s very curious indeed for this game to sideline romance. We were talking about the carrot-on-the-stick that is H-scenes in most VNs, and while I definitely don’t think it should be a mandatory requirement for VNs, to not even dangle the prospect of romance in front of the player seems like a decision reserved for a more narrative ambitious/creative game — something I don’t exactly associate Key with.

Yeaaa being all ages doesn’t mean the people in the game need to act like monks…

Well this actually is a VERY ambitious game I would say that much the problem is I don’t think their gamble really payed off. It was like they were trying really hard to play against their usual fare which can work great, but it was just really poorly thought out in this game for me.

Guess we’ll see what they do with the supposed Angel Beats game.

Key succeeded in making me love Akane, but then they proceeded to screw up her route so bad makes me want to kill them.

Haha pretty much took the words out of my mouth sadly. I really grew to love that girl in the her common route segments and was all fired up to get into her route proper! And then they gave us that…Sigh well theirs always Festa to fix that hopefully!

If you’Re looking for a romance visual novel but still want it to be key characters I suggest waiting for the fan disc. For this VN they went for a angel beats feel since it got such a huge response. You need to remember that if a company doesn’t try nothing new eventually people will turn away and say “oh it’s the exact same thing over and over again.

Yea I mentioned the disc at the end and I really hope it does get translated for just that reason!

Mmm except Angel Beats was actually good…Haha sorry that’s mean but yea Angel really tugged at my heart strings this just didn’t.

I’m fine with people trying different things outside their comfort zone and hopefully they can do better with experimenting next time sadly you gotta take something on its merits alone for a review like this I feel. :p

Hands down the best Visual Novel ever written.

The author is just dissapointed because he was not informing himself and was expecting another run of the mill high school romance.

This is by a clear mile the best visual novel ever done by Key and in general.

It has something a lot of other novels lack which is depth!

“The author” Is a rather impersonal way to address someone now isn’t it? Plus it’s kinda insulting to all the real authors who actually write stuff worth the title! :p

Mmm well if you loved it I’m in no position to retort although I’d love to hear a more comprehensive analysis aside from “depth” if you ever felt like it. ^_^

For my part no I really wasn’t expecting a run of the mill high school romance. Actually I’m incredibly sick and tired of them even the ones that try to poke fun at the tropes like this game and many others before it have done.

I would much rather Key step even further out of it’s comfort zone and just drop the school setting all together.

As far as best Key ever? Mmmm Clannad is still something special, but even if I think they made some missteps with this it and Angel Beats at least has me hopeful for what they put out next!

Well from the first thing is if you sick of high school setting even if you sick of it, why you still play it?

Maybe if you can you better search for the other review or visit the VNDB discussion to see how the deep you want to know instead just admitting your figure.

If you really want romance without disturbed with this kind of the plot and like yuri maybe you better started to play Sono Hanabira series that translated into english.

If you don’t like Rewrite, just like one of the member of VNDB said “This was just a poor choice of VN for you” and maybe you still have less experience in term of Visual Novel. Just read VNDB forum and maybe you can learn from them.

Reply

Sorry for doublepost, but one more thing. Generally it was that you preffered route, especially Chihaya that regarded as very bad route because the focus is not her, but her butler.

Overall, Rewrite to be honest kinda polarizing in the first place though

I deleted the duplicate for you. ^_^

Honestly I thought it was just a spammer when I saw 3 message notifications from one person thus my slow response haha…

Haha I guess because it was about the butler and not Chihaya I guess? Although I didn’t really dislike Chihaya that much as I kinda have a soft spot for dumb girls.

But yea I will agree that Rewrite is fairly polarizing.

Well for better or worse I like to think of myself as some sort of “Reviewer” and part of being one is playing absolutely every thing that comes out pretty much. But trust me after doing this for awhile I now know Movie reviewers pain haha.

As for the Sono Hana series I find them mildly enjoyable, but they’re a little too on the short side for me to really say I love them or anything.

And again I appreciate the advice, but most of the point is to play things blind for possible review. That said I most certainly wouldn’t say I regretted playing the game as it had several memorable fun moments for me.

“It starts as an enjoyable game in general but ends as a disappointing bloated self-important piece of junk with no heart with a terribly silly ending.”

This is exactly how I feel. Key probably wants to try something new, but that doesn’t turn up too well. I enjoy Kotori’s and Chihaya’s routes though, while the story overall is disappointing. Well, I guess I just can’t enjoy the theme with all those crazy ideology wars and the lack “Key-ish” feeling.

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