Title: Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa
Developer: Art Co.
Release Date: May 31, 2019
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: Visual Novel/Puzzle
Publisher PQube has been one of the leading western publishers to bring niche visual novels to the west for quite some time now. It was only a matter of time before they dipped their hands in their own title in partnership with developer Art Co. to produce Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa. In many ways, Kotodama presents a general outline for what a visual novel mystery should include, but I found that it’s western influence has turned it into an accessible and entertaining adventure that gives more to the players who spend the most time with it.
Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa begins without much of an introduction. The opening of the game pretty much throws the player head first into the story where the protagonist has created a pact with a demon fox named Mon-chan. This pact gives the protagonist the power to extract any information he wishes from another character, which is useful for solving mysteries. The pacing doesn’t slow down throughout the game’s first Act where the player is pretty much on a linear story to the game’s first ending.
While the story has the interesting premise of solving seven mysteries around his new school with the help of his peer, Nanami Kagura, the first time through the game is not a great reflection of what this story truly offers. While the chapters are short leading up to the first ending, there’s nothing really present that sets the story apart from other visual novels, which makes it feel like a rushed mess. However, it’s after the first ending that Kotodama shows its true colors and I’d hate to spoil what players are in for. I will say that the steps the developer took to make this seem like a generic visual novel pays off when all the twists in the story land effectively.
Kotodama is a mystery visual novel at heart. Through dialog, players will make choices that affect the narrative. These choices weigh heavily on the outcome of the story. Little changes, as insignificant as they may seem at the time, do a lot to alter the outcome of future events. Figuring out the right path will lead the player to a true ending, but there are various endings available with not so happy conclusions.
I ended up really enjoying the choice system and the fact that players are capable of revealing too much, which can get them into trouble. The detective elements in the game require players to not share too many details on what they know about the characters so there is a bit of thought that needs to be put into a response.
The themes in the game can get pretty dark as they handle situations like animal abuse and suicide, which can be heavy for the reader. It was upsetting to learn how some of the characters hid secrets about themselves and a simple “I’m sorry” was enough to move past it. However, the story ends up wrapping up many of these events and character arcs later on especially on the route to the game’s true ending. With that said, someone’s first time through the game might leave them with questions about various plot holes.
To extract information from characters, players will need to use the power of the Word Book and Mon-chan. This brings the player to an alternate dimension where they must match 3 elements and unlock the truth of the character they’re interrogating. To put it simply, this game is extremely fun. The match three formula has players chose a block to send to the top of a column. The idea is simply to match three of the element blocks to break them which is sent over to the character’s Happiness Meter. The more this meter is filled, the fewer clothes the character has on. The idea of this is that they are shedding the layers that contain the truth, but ultimately you get to see the characters in their underwear so just play along.
I really enjoyed this feature and it extends past the story mode of the game. There is also a Fantasy Mode where you can aim for a high scored time and choose different underwear for the characters to wear, which are unlocked. The game features both men and women characters to initiate this feature with and it stays consistently fun hours into the game. There are additional special blocks that help out the player and items that can be used to gain more moves, but really, it’s just a test to fill up the meter as quickly as possible.
One feature that I didn’t understand at first was Quacker, the game’s in-game Twitter clone. This system has notifications pop up from time to time while playing, but I didn’t really understand its benefits until much later in the game. Pretty much it allows you to see what characters are doing when they aren’t around you. Furthermore, new chat threads are unlocked over time which gives you insights on character activity around campus. It’s an interesting feature that I shrugged off at first but ended up appreciating once I spent more time understanding it. However, I would have like a way to post my own content in the threads.
Illustrations for characters are beautiful. Each character has their own key characteristics which reflect their personality during the story. The CG events are also detailed and fun to unlock throughout the game. However, I do wish there were more of them. Environments are rather generic and none of them really stand out. Similarly, the music has perhaps two decent tracks while the others are just short loops that get rather repetitive.
Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa is a mystery through and through. The game makes the player believe that it is a lighthearted adventure game about solving cases through a generic story but then throws a curve ball at the player after the first ending. Sticking with the game after that will reveal an amazing visual novel that shows an attention to detail when it comes to what western visual novel fans enjoy such as branching paths, collectible keywords, and cute anime girls in their underwear. It’s not a lengthy visual novel by any means and doesn’t break ground with suspense, but it does all the right things to hold the attention of the player over multiple playthroughs.
Generic environments and forgettable music tracks aside, Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa provides a satisfying playing experience. The game opens the doors for those yet to experience a visual novel and offers an addictively fun match 3 mini-game to have you play whenever you like, with unlockable underwear as the icing on the cake. I’d recommend Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa to anyone who wants a quick visual novel experience with some fun and unique mystery elements to it.
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