Title: Re:ZERO: The Prophecy of the Throne
Developer: Chime Corporation
Release Date: January 29, 2021
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
I’m usually reluctant to play anime licensed games since they seem to be more of an easy cash grab from the publisher. While in Japan, visual novel adaptations of anime are commonplace, rarely do we see them in the west. However, publisher Spike Chunsoft and developer Chime Corporation are changing things up a bit with the release of Re:ZERO: The Prophecy of the Throne. Tying into the universe of Re:ZERO – Starting Life in Another World, we get an exceptional mystery adventure made better by the series’ amazing voice actors and utilization of the “Return by Death” powers.
Re:ZERO: The Prophecy of the Throne takes place one month after Subaru finds himself in a fantasy world with the power to come back to life if he dies, which he dubbed Return by Death. When this happens, the entire world resets, and everyone loses their memory of the events except for him. The adventure is unique to the series and focuses on the Royal Selection, an event in which one of five candidates is chosen to be the next ruler of the Kingdom of Lugunica.
However, it turns out the six have been chosen, which postpones the selection until the imposter is found. Emilia is the first to be suspected, given her resemblance to a certain someone, so Subaru takes it upon himself to clear her name and find the real imposter. The game introduces a few new faces, including a nun named Melty along with her group. Throughout the game, you’ll spend time with each of the girls until you narrow down what exactly is going on.
The visual novel has some future changing elements through exploration, but much of the narrative is a linear experience. You’ll get to a point where you may know who the imposter is, but that’s when the story throws a curveball at you. There are multiple antagonists at play here, which takes your attention off of the imposter search and more on trying to figure out how all this is connected.
If you love Re: ZERO’s dialogue delivery, you will appreciate who well these scenarios are written. The back and forth between characters such as Subaru showing his love for Emilia or Rem’s subtle compliments to Subaru are just a few of the precious moments found. Things also get serious at times, but the transitions between these moments are executed well and flow naturally with the story.
As you could have guessed, Subaru will die, but thankfully he has the power to return. This is also handled well in the game as it doesn’t force you to replay scenes you already experienced. Instead, Subaru will always change up something that affects the events. These moments typically happen during the adventure segments where Subaru can run around the environment and interact with other characters.
During exploration, players can gather clues by talking to other characters or investigate the area to find items. It’s not explicitly said initially, but these items and spotlighted terms are used during the battle phase of the game. Before battles, you’ll combine the terms to execute a strategy. However, if you fail to gather the terms, you’ll be at a disadvantage during the fight, which could cost a few turns. Talking to NPCs multiple times and using the “Think” command can also acquire possible terms.
In execution, the exploration and battle portions are fairly limited and only really serve to break up the lengthy narrative. You can die during the battles, making your second time through the fight more interesting since Subaru brings his knowledge with him. Still, other than that, you can complete these sections of the game without actually collecting any clues. There are also a few battle moments that just require you to “Search,” and these felt more like padding on the runtime.
The biggest downside is the lack of consequences of not doing enough during the exploration segments. You can complete missions without having a battle strategy, which gives the game a linear feel. Further, the game’s Flowchart clearly outlines your progress across each day and loop. Since they went so far with the Return by Death systems, I wish your mistakes caused more deviation from the main campaign.
The illustrations of Re:ZERO: The Prophecy of the Throne are quite good. Each character looks great and is animated in a way that they can move all their joints. It’s kind of distracting watching them bob up and down, but I ended up liking it more than static illustrations. I do wish there were more costume changes, and the limited CGs within the game are reused multiple times and are only shown for maybe two text boxes.
One of the stand-out features is the voice acting. Every cast member returns to reprise their role, and it’s almost as if you’re watching the anime. Every character has a voice, too, including all NPCs. They come at these characters with such passion that brings them to life, and it’s just amazing to watch it all play out.
Re:ZERO: The Prophecy of the Throne is a well-executed adventure visual novel that isn’t restricted by an anime license. The writers created a unique story within this world without it being overshadowed by the franchise. Through its mystery themes and excellent character writing, fans will easily appreciate this adventure.
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