All in all, I came away pleased with the experience. While I did know all the plot twists from the anime, the game was still fun and short enough to pick up a chapter here and there. While Punch Line really feels more like a handheld or mobile experience, it’s still a lot of gags, fun, and good music. If you haven’t seen the anime, now you can play it, so get out there and don’t stare at the panties!
It’s hard to say whether Punch Line as a game is a good jumping-in point for those that haven’t seen the anime prior, but I enjoyed my time somewhat more with the game. It’s silly, downright ridiculous at pretty much all times, but it’s the interaction with the story that the game allows, which makes it a more engaging experience.
There’s a point in the Punch Line anime where main character Yuta Iridatsu says something about how the spirit world functions similarly to a video game, and there’s really no denying that time travel and abilities that become better as they’re used are the types of things that lend themselves perfectly to gaming. That makes it all the more surprising that the Punch Line game adaptation is a visual novel first and foremost, then, forgoing its gameplay in favor of its story.
I often feel like video game adaptations of anime are great entry points for people unfamiliar with the source material. Punch Line, however, is hard for me to recommend to anyone but the most hardcore fans of the original anime. While this game has interesting ideas that approach the same genre as cult-classic Ghost Trick, the sloppy presentation and pacing make it more of a chore than a pleasure to play through. A lot of the appeal of the original anime has also been lost in the switch of mediums. Fans of the anime will likely get enjoyment out of the new stories and beautiful character models. Anyone else is better off starting with the original television series or simply avoiding Punch Line altogether.
PUNCH LINE fails to engage the player in any way, its play and story lifeless.