Root Letter Preview – A More Serious Phoenix Wright Experienceon August 31, 2016 by Oscar TK
PQube recently had a booth at Gamescom where they showcased a hefty 9 titles! One of the most interesting of these was Root Letter, a brand new IP from Kadokawa and the first in their new “Kadokawa Game Mystery” line. It will release in EU/NA later this year.
The story centres around a final pen letter from an old penpal, Fumino Aya, where she claims she killed someone. For some reason you haven’t seen this letter until 15 years after it was sent, it mysteriously doesn’t even have any stamps on it, and as such it’s only now you decide to take action to try and unravel the mystery behind Aya’s claimed murder and her subsequent disappearance.
As any cop worth his salt will tell you working on a case that’s been cold for 15 years is pretty tough, especially when all of the evidence might be a lie. All you really have to go on are the initial letters that made up your correspondence with Aya. These point you to 7 of her classmates who apparently witnessed what went down. You’re thrust quite quickly into the town of Matsue, Shimane Prefecture without much to go on except for the letters from Aya that may or may not be entirely truthful.
There are 3 different “parts” of the game — the “Letter Part”, the “Investigation Part”, and the “Questioning Part”. This gives you a style of structure not dissimilar indeed to Ace Attorney, making the tone of the game very much feel like a more serious Phoenix Wright experience. It could be the case that Root Letter is the Ace Attorney experience PlayStation has been waiting for.
There are 10 letters in the game and 10 chapters. In the “Letter Part” you need to go back over your old correspondence with Aya, and pick out clues and information about her classmates that you can use as part of your investigation. In this part you can also choose how you replied to Aya’s letters in the past, which can alter your relationship with her. The game promises multiple endings depending on how you see events through, and you may need to play the game through multiple times to fully understand the truth.
The bulk of the game is the “Investigation Part”, where you explore the beautifully recreated Shimane Prefecture, talking to people and collecting evidence. You need to try to find out what happened to Aya, mainly by trying to figure out who in the town are the classmates Aya told you about in her letters. Yes, a segment of the game is spent trying to find out the identity of someone you only know as “Bitch”.
— PQube (@PQubeGames) August 30, 2016
As the story progresses you unlock more areas of Matsue, which are stunningly rendered in perfect accuracy to the real place. PQube have been sharing some comparison shots lately and it’s some pretty amazing stuff. As well as collecting evidence, exploring Matsue, and trying to find Aya’s old classmates — you can also learn more about the town and experience side stories to flesh things out.
The “Questioning Part” plays out as a confrontation with another character. This isn’t dissimilar to a cross-examination, and you need to present the correct evidence to find the lies in the other person’s statement. Cause their stress to build up enough and you enter the “climax” of the questioning called “max mode”. Using a metre you can select an answer that can make their lie “crack” and reveal the truth. It pumps it up and adds a dynamic flourish to the game’s pace.
Root Letter is a really exciting brand new game that’s really caught our interest as part of PQube’s Gamescom selection. Kadokawa are really pushing the boat out to bring something that feels refreshing — an investigation mystery style visual novel on a major platform. It’s the kind of thing you wouldn’t expect to head west, but we couldn’t be happier that it is. It’s a lovely surprise. We hope to get hands on with Root Letter before release to really get into the details of how it feels to play, but what we’ve seen so far is looking great — a genuinely intriguing story and an adult mystery experience that could very well revive the genre in the west. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one.