Title: Date A Live: Rio Reincarnation
Developer: Idea Factory, Compile Heart, Sting
Release Date: July 23, 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Genre: Visual Novel
You never really know what you’re going to get with a romance visual novel, especially one that has a large number of datable girls. While I often find myself drawn to any game with romance, it’s always to be determined how serious the writers will take the relationships. This is what originally had me excited to play Date A Live: Rinne Utopia, the first game in the Date A Live series.
In all honesty, I never got around to watching the anime, but it’s pretty rare to get to play a visual novel based on a light novel in the west. However, the game does have a decent introduction that summarizes all the events of the anime and made it easy for me to hit the ground running in this romantic and lengthy visual novel.
The collection of games in Date a Live: Rio Reincarnation contains three different stories, we decided to divide and conquer here at Noisy Pixel so I will be reviewing Date A Live: Rinne Utopia and Rio Reincarnation.
Date A Live: Rinne Utopia follows the student Shido Itsuka who meets a Spirit named Tohka and ends up saving her life. You see, in this world, Spirits have the power to destroy the world in an event known as “rampage”, so it’s best to keep them happy. Well, it just so happens that Shido’s whole life is about to change because he has a special ability to prevent it…by making them fall in love with him.
While he is preventing the end of the world by going on dates with numerous Spirits something strange happens as a girl named Rinne appears who is apparently from his dreams. Now, he has to choose who he wants to be with, but at the same time figure out how this mysterious girl found her way into his life.
Throughout Date A Live: Rinne Utopia, I felt like I playing a common route multiple time and then getting together a girl in the very end. Although this might sound like a bad feature, I was actually surprised at how well the developers managed to create a story that flowed so naturally across so many routes. When going for a specific girl, the common scenes slightly changed according to your waifu, so it’s easy to read Shido’s feelings for the girl that he chooses throughout the dialog. What makes the story even better is that the pace and character development was extremely solid throughout each event, even though there are so many girls available to romance.
It’s important to note that Date A Live: Rinne Utopia is a visual novel which contains mostly slice-of-life scenes and is very light-hearted. It works with comedic themes a lot and I have to say that I happened to laugh out loud more often than I would like to admit. Interestingly, even though the themes in the game involve dating there aren’t really any overly suggestive jokes. Instead, the game’s writing like to keep things consistently cute without getting too perverted. Date scenes are intertwined with the everyday life of Shido and the girls he is surrounded by. However, the game does contain some serious moments as you play through its multiple routes.
That being said, the gameplay loop of Date A Live: Rinne Utopia has the player going through a school day, then choose someone to date with. To invite a girl on a date, a map opens and you are able to choose your desired girl, there isn’t really any trial and error here as the girl you choose will be your date. In the left corner, you can always check how many events you can visit for the day which are displayed as clocks.
Something I really liked was that the events are tied to each other and had an actual connection, so sometimes a girl will be upset with you and you have the option to talk to her about it or not. Additionally, it is possible to not romance anyone and simply choose side events. Overall, there are six normal endings available and a true one. In order to achieve the true end, you have to get all the normal endings beforehand. While some endings are very obvious to get, others are a bit trickier, yet all of them differ from each other and are each unique.
Visually, Date A Live: Rinne Utopia is impressive with lip synchronization and animated CG’s. The artwork is stunning and the animations looked so natural that it shows the characters breathing. Of course, that includes chest moving as well, but this is so subtle that it never bothered me. I found the facial expressions fitting in each situation, such as when a character is telling a spooky story, which gave me goosebumps from the authentic way it was presented. Additionally, the voice acting is top-notch and I enjoyed the music that set the tone of the story.
In the western release, Date A Live: Rio Reincarnation, the sequel, Ars Install, and conclusion, Rio Reincarnation, are included. While it is recommended to play Rinne Utopia and Ars Install first, it is possible to play Rio Reincarnation after completing the “Digest” which functions as a short summary of both games but it does contain spoilers.
I won’t go into too much detail for Rio Reincarnation as it is rather short, but for the sake of the review, the story begins with Shido waking up and remembering the happenings of Rinne Utopia and Ars Install. Players are then introduced to a new character, Rio Sonogami, and experience her route as other characters pop in and out of the story.
Date A Live: Rinne Utopia is a lovely slice-of-life visual novel with some impressive illustrations, animations, and CGs, which made it feel like a high-quality visual novel. The development and writing of the romance and characters are expertly done even though the cast gets pretty large throughout the story, which could potentially be tough to follow for some.
Furthermore, even though common scenes are kept the same through multiple routes they get slightly adjusted, depending on who you’re dating so it still felt like Shido’s feelings were authentic. That being said, Date A Live: Rinne Utopia is probably the feel-good romance visual novel of the year that will make you laugh and perhaps die from all the cute datable girls.
You can also read our review of Date A Live: Ars Install.
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