Title: Yumeutsutsu Re:Masters
Developer: Kogado Studio
Release Date: April 22, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: Visual Novel
Understanding the ins and outs of a visual novel comes with time. Most of these games have multiple routes that lead to a true ending which might also be full of numerous romance routes. The Kogado Studio-developed yuri visual novel Yumeutsutsu Re:Masters has this format. While most would expect all plotlines to be wrapped up by the conclusion, Re:Masters sadly gets lost in its own story development, which ends up hurting some of its more exceptional features.
Yumeutsutsu Re:Masters stars the 21-year-old Ai Otori, a girl who is about to start work at an indie development company, Eureka software. This company has acquired the rights to the critically acclaimed in-universe yuri doujin visual novel, Nie, the Witch and the end of the World and will be remaking it with the scenario writer’s help.
However, that’s not precisely why Ai started there. One day, she was offered the job via a cryptic letter telling her to “save her sister,” Kokoro, whom she hasn’t spoken to in years due to Kokoro cutting all contact between them. Just a side note that their names mean love and heart, which is objectively cute. There’s only one small problem. Ai doesn’t have much more technical knowledge than your 90-year-old grandmother, who still has trouble saving a document in Microsoft Word. So, what could go wrong?
Re:Masters is visually an extremely appealing game, all of its CGs, backgrounds, and portraits are very detailed and pretty. This game even has animated rain backgrounds, which is a stellar idea more games need to do. The text box is by default somewhat opaque and fades out at the top, and there is a color-coded trimming around the screen to denote the current viewpoint.
Yes, this is a romance novel with multiple viewpoints and a lead protagonist that has a face and voice. Aesthetically, this game is amazing. However, the praise I have for it is only surface level because what lies beneath has a plethora of problems.
I usually adore it when a visual novel has a lead protagonist with a face and voice because generally, that character is going to have at least a bit more depth than a stock self-insert. Sadly, however, Ai Otori has no more character than the main protagonist of a nukige.
Her personality is that she is incredibly weak-willed and has a blank slate of knowledge. Yes, she is also willing to try her best always, and that is incredibly endearing, but it absolutely does not work for someone with the role of the lead protagonist.
Nearly every single person who would play this game would have a decent amount of extra background knowledge about video games, visual novels, and all that jazz. Ai knows nothing. She’s been hired for a game development job but knows nothing about video games. Ai, is an awful viewpoint because of this, as she reacts to essential pieces of knowledge as if they’re big revelations, with every single thing being explained in detail. Why did you even take this job, Ai?
Oh right, you became a game developer to save your sister, which will be brought up many times as you venture down the common route until you hit a branching path. In many visual novels with character routes, you’ll see additional plot elements brought up so the other routes can resolve those without rehashing the same plot beats, allowing the true ending to wrap up everything.
However, Re:Masters doesn’t always add those beats until you actually reach that character’s route, making some of them feel like their own totally separate stories that interrupt the main game instead of a simple route diversion. And when the beats are added beforehand, they’re added so blatantly, a car driving into your living room would feel more subtle.
What’s even worse here is that a handful of those beats are never brought up again in the true ending. To get to the main end that properly resolves the whole “save your sister” point, you will need to play through every other conclusion. Getting those uses the most arbitrarily frustrating choice system I have experienced in a visual novel.
In all of the numerous decisions proposed to you throughout Re:Masters, it’s not a simple “interact with that character more” to get onto their route. You need to pick out the exact answers for each route, or you’ll end up finishing the common route, and then you will get booted back to the title screen. It also doesn’t help that these choices have next to no impact on the common route, and most often end with Ai doing the exact same action regardless of what your choice was.
Don’t follow your friend into a dark alley? Too bad, you’re doing it regardless of what you choose. Want to ask Kokoro a question about your role in the company instead of the head writer? Welp, she walked off, and Ai has to ask the writer anyway. All of these things combine into a title where you spend more time fast-forwarding than actually reading. There’s no way to tell that you might be on the right track, and some required choices seem counterproductive. It took me upwards of THIRTY RUNS of the common route to get onto all the character routes, and then a ridiculous amount of retries on all of those routes to actually get their good endings.
Yumeutsutsu Re:Masters is sadly not worth the effort. By the time you wrap up plot points and acquire the routes that matter, you’ll be extremely tired of hearing the same 20 seconds of each song play as you speed through countless reruns. The choice system is what ultimately weighs this experience down as finding the right combination of answers to progress will most likely have you turning off the game long before you get the true ending.
Yumeutsutsu Re:Masters has the makings of a fantastic visual novel, and visually it is. Still, some horrible choices in both writing and design make it an utter chore to experience.
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