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However, the writing is a bit of a letdown. The character interactions are solid, and seeing their interplay is a delight. There’s also an impressive level of detail paid to the minutiae of film-making that we rarely see. Unfortunately, this level of care doesn’t touch all corners of the experience. The character's connection to the primary narrative is tenuous. Outside of the very first mystery, the protagonist's motivations for remaining involved in these murders don’t feel warranted. This is especially problematic when it comes to Rintaro’s chapters, which comprise the brunt of the game’s 15 or so hours. The writing is able to somewhat successfully sidestep this problem, through sheer force of intrigue, but it’s not wholly successful.
Root Film builds off of what its predecessor did well while managing to feel very distinct and more grown-up than Root Letter. The Switch version's portability makes it much easier to get those hours in than the PS4 version, but those who weren't fans of Root Letter or who are on the fence might want to wait until a sale or pick up the digital version of the game. For fans of murder mysteries, there are plenty of cases to get stuck into and rich locations to explore. We think it is worth the full price but can't blame people for being put off by the hefty price tag.
Root Film does a great job at holding your attention throughout the 15-20 hours you'll spend with it. The truth behind the film project from ten years ago is an intriguing one to uncover and you'll discover plenty of dark secrets along the way. Despite being a game with lots of death in it, it also manages to be a love letter to the Shimane region in Japan. The endearing characters you meet will also help keep the game feeling light despite some of its intense subject matter.
Murder mysteries are a wonderful genre of any medium that have near limitless potential and Root Film is a great entry that fans of other similar visual novels are likely to find enjoyment from.
Ultimately, Root Film is a fantastic mystery visual novel that provides a thrilling story, a colorful cast of characters, and the kind of excitement you might not expect from the genre.
After Root Letter's lackluster launch, Root Film, a big improvement over its predecessor, is cursed by that connection and may not reach the wider audience it deserves.
Review in Portuguese | Read full review
While Root Film doesn’t quite meet the standard of its excellent predecessor, Root Letter, it’s still a thoroughly entertaining visual novel, especially for those who are into murder mysteries. It isn’t afraid to dip its toes into some pretty serious topics, and does so in a respectful manner, but it also employs a bit of humour to lighten the mood when necessary. Forgive its localisation issues, and you have a fine way to step into the shoes of an investigator for just over a dozen of hours.
Root Film tells a wonderfully winding, thrilling mystery in a true Edogawa Ranpo style, but what's more important is that Root Film is a gorgeous visualisation of an often-ignored but deeply valuable part of Japan. If you walk away from this game with a deep desire to see Shimane for yourself, then you've played it the right way.
But combined with the frustrating controls and repetitive music, Root Film becomes a drag to play through. I sincerely hope that this story will be adapted into other forms, because there is a lot of potential here. A video game simply shouldn't have made the cut.
If everything that I’ve said about Root Film so far hasn’t convinced you of its greatness as a visual novel, then I’m not sure what will. If you’re even slightly interested in visual novels or are just a fan of good mysteries in general, your life will only be better for picking up Root Film.