Rewrite+ Review – Evolutionary Strife

    Title: Rewrite+
    Developer: Key
    Release Date: December 17, 2021
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Sekai Project
    Genre: Visual Novel, Adventure

Key is known for developing emotional visual novels. From the likes of Clannad to Little Busters, their lineup is often discussed in fan circles. Now, Rewrite+, an updated version of the original Rewrite that never received an official localization, has come west to take us right back to the emotional place we expect from the developer.

As splendid as Rewrite+ is, its localization and launch state was unfortunately lacking. Publisher Sekai Project has been actively releasing updates to fix errors with dialogue, crashes, and other bugs, but those efforts don’t erase the experience of the launch version.

Throughout Rewrite+, players assume the role of the protagonist, Kotarou Tennouji, in his home city of Kazamatsuri, a modernized technological marvel of civilization that reinforces environmentalism. Kotarou is a student who, while upbeat and friendly, actually faces an internal dilemma of identity that drives his vague motivations. This conflict is subtly reinforced throughout the common route, which also introduces the supporting cast.

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Of the heroines, there is Kotori Kanbe, the ditzy, classic childhood friend; Chihaya Ohtori, the airheaded transfer student; Lucia Konohana, the tsundere class president; Sizuru Nakatsu, the adorable heterochromatic enigma; and Akane Senri, the devious senior. Also of note is Yoshino, Kotarou’s rival and totally not friend.

The common route expertly introduces each member of the main cast in natural ways that make everyone distinct and memorable. Humor is the main driving force of this route, highlighting the silliness of school life and the numerous relationships. Still, occasional tension is also present that taps on the glassy veil of context players aren’t initially aware of.

One unconventional mechanic is Mappie, essentially a navigable map housing objective markers. Aside from Mappie being used to reach story objectives, there are several optional events that tend to be somewhat humorous in tone and execution. This system acts as a neat method to lightly tide players away from the linear adventure. Mappie isn’t overly present, but it appears often enough to keep progression fresh. Choices are also present that affect some routes.

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The heroines each have their own route, though some are only accessible after clearing others. For instance, Akane’s route is only accessible after clearing Chihaya’s. The required choices for reaching these routes are straightforward, though some can be vague. A walkthrough may be needed if you don’t wish to waste time on dead ends.

The routes themselves are all excellent, thanks to the cast. While I have some critiques of each route, they all focus on the respective girl to build a proper relationship. And, well, if you’re familiar with this developer’s other works, you should be aware that trains of feels await you.

After clearing, there are two more story routes. Firstly is Moon, which, once cleared, unlocks Terra. The less discussed these routes are, the better since they’re spoiler central. They’re best described as the ultimate payoffs to the common and heroine routes, tying up loose threads and providing profound narrative implications. With all of the aforementioned content, players can look forward to eight routes of heartwrenching yet simultaneously wholesome interactions.

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The comedic identity of Rewrite+ deserves as much praise as the emotional moments. The common route is best known for this, as there are several events that deserve to be in the hallmark of absurdity. Kotori is probably my favorite character regarding humor since she fully embraces it while being aware of her actions.

The soundtrack is sublime, emitting adept portrayals of atmosphere. It’s rare for visual novel soundtracks to stand out for me, so the fact that Rewrite+ was able to do so shows how special it is. Its mix of intensity and tranquility is unparalleled in the genre.

The voice acting also follows that level of quality. Everyone is practically a meme machine with their trope-esque deliveries, and they’re so imbued with a genuine soul that I couldn’t help but feel drawn in. There’s one particular segment where Kotori makes these impressions of random people, and they killed me. Her voice actress must’ve had the time of her life.

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There is the elephant in the room, though, which has to do with the localization. Having played Rewrite+ at launch, my experience was messy, to a degree where I was legitimately shocked this game released in the state it did. While I can overlook a few typos or crashes in large scripts, the number of errors was unjustifiable. Many names were left untranslated, which, while usually only occurring to minor characters, happened too often to overlook across every route.

Further, this untranslated text problem carried over to dialogue itself. The worst of this scenario was the end of Lucia’s route, which houses a lengthy text box left entirely untouched. As if that wasn’t enough, crashes were standard, and loading from specific save slots would result in some error that would make that file unusable. Thankfully, autosaves were a convenient band-aid solution, but I’m sure you realize why that should not be seen as a fix.

Moreover, attempts at resolving these dilemmas haven’t exactly been smooth. I still experience loading crashes with the newly applied patch, so I still see this as a work in progress. In addition, the untranslated text during pivotal scenes and frequent crashes ruined pacing and comprehensibility at various points, thereby harming my overall experience.

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I find Rewrite+ to be a masterful visual novel through and through. From its charming characters, tense narrative, and quality sound design. Any fan of the genre should experience this title. Even when taking the western release version into account, patches will surely fix the issues, but that doesn’t limit the pure joy this game offers.

Hopefully, Harvest Festa releases sooner rather than later and is in a polished state.

Score:
9/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual. Fan of JRPGs, Action, Platformers, Rhythm, and Adventure titles.