Visual novels aren’t usually my cup of tea so when I tried to look back as to why I started out this adventure of a game, the only reason I could think of is because of its anime adaptation. An anime that easily caught my attention for its weird naming sense but also for its gorgeous art style at the time… The idea there was simple but as simple as it is, it also feels absurd just like most of the anime that I end up loving for their level of absurdity.
To put you up to speed, it’s about Spirits that would casually come down to Earth from another dimension causing destruction and havoc and it’s up to a teenage boy to tame and seal their powers with a kiss. “Did I just read that right?” is probably what you’re thinking right now so let me repeat it for you confused souls and anime virgins, it’s about a teenage boy making girls fall in love with him as he steals their first kiss and a bit of their powers too which is nothing more than a consolation price at this point.
But Date A Live Rio Reincarnation is not “a” game but a title consisting of all three visual novels from Rinne Utopia to Arusu Install and lastly Rio Reincarnation. It takes in all of that glorious visual novel goodness and pseudo-dating elements into one fantastic package. However as most visual novels, it feels much more at home when played from handhelds rather than in front of a monitor or TV screen which is also where my first issue lies. As it is not an action-heavy game and more of a book you read while relaxing, the idea of not being able to bring it around as you wish leaves little to be desired. But despite its lack of portability options, having to hook up the PS4 with remote play is a decent enough alternative whenever I want to get off the sofa and into the comfy covers of my bed.
As you start off with the game, Rinne Utopia for that matter, it expects you to have already watched the anime or have done your homework with the light novel. Since the three visual novels contain each of their own unique stories separate from the source material, at this point you’ve already been in touch or a better wording for that is have touched the girls’ lips and gained their affection. The only thing amiss here is that you get introduced to a familiar but unfamiliar face. A supposedly childhood friend you’re just meeting for the first time. Rinne Sonogami, is your typical girl next door that you get to interact with as you progress through the story and right off the bat she’s your average high level waifu candidate that can cook and is very understanding… even when she just saw you with your pants down. Literally!
However on its second game is an all too different matter. You, and by you I mean Shido Itsuka, becomes trapped inside a virtual reality game fittingly titled “My Little Shido 2” after meeting an unfamiliar AI that was never part of the game in the first place. And the only way to get out happens to be when you show the mysterious AI what the true meaning of love actually is. And by definition, love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states, from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest interpersonal affection and to the simplest pleasure. Credits to Wikipedia and I’d like to get out now please…
Talking about the third game in the collection is more a spoiler so it doesn’t feel right to put up a synopsis here however what I can say is that the game itself brings in the connection towards the first and second which makes it a game you’d want to play after you watched the anime and played the previous titles. But despite all that, a Digest is also available should you wish to skip playing through the other games and provides a brief synopsis of whatever took place in the previous titles. A nice alternative but to fully appreciate the game in its entirety means playing all three and experiencing how a true harem comes to fruition.
All in all, the three games follow similar gameplay elements even for how little gameplay it brings. Most of which follows a certain narrative to start out the adventure but breaks apart the days with options on who to date, what to say or how to act in certain instances. However the huge chunks of the game comprise of the usual everyday stuffs like going on dates, if that is what normal Japanese people do, aside from the usual everyday high school life. So while the idea of seeing how much food Tohka can store in her mouth in a single date is amusing (or until the first three times) the real reason what makes Date A Live a great visual novel to start with is because its easily relatable but also brings in the interesting elements of the extradimensional beings. But really it’s all about dating…
As a whole, the three games offer great fun that DAL fans or anime enthusiasts will appreciate. The visuals is also very pleasing for its life-like animations of being able to see them breathe, blink and move which is also what I love about Compile Heart’s games be it the Neptunia series, Fairy Fencer or my new found love for Death end re;Quest. Although it does have the steep learning curve of sitting through an anime session just to be fully appreciated by non-DAL fans.
DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation is now available physically and digitally on PlayStation 4 and digitally on Steam.
- Publisher: Idea Factory International, Inc.
- Developers: Idea Factory, Compile Heart, Sting Entertainment