Game Review: DATE A LIVE Rio:Reincarnation (PS4)

To some the DATE A LIVE franchise may seem like a brand new IP being pushed by western publisher Idea Factory International, when in fact the franchise has been around for quite some time (especially in Japan) and has established itself as one of the more notable visual novel franchises.

As a result the games have been adapted into three anime series, with the first two seasons being released on Blu-Ray and DVD in North America and the third season previously simulcast across the globe. Sadly this isn’t the same for UK, and some European markets; but fortunately for us Idea Factory International are pushing out a collection of past games as a High Definition remastered trilogy collection known as DATE A LIVE Rio:Reincarnation.

So, with this history lesson aside for the time being, what can one expect from this PlayStation 4 release of the game, and more importantly is it any fun? Let’s take a look and find out.

Title: DATE A LIVE Rio:Reincarnation
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Developer: Idea Factory
Platform: PlayStation 4
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Audio: Japanese
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: 5.5GB

Our View:

Developed by Compile Heart and Sting, as well as published outside of Japan by Idea Factory International, DATE A LIVE Rio:Reincarnation combines three previously Japanese only DATE A LIVE games, of which two were originally released onto the PlayStation 3 and third being a PlayStation Vita title with the other two games, to give western fans a single package of visual novel content. This package is then enhanced with the addition of Drama CD’s and Art Books related to each game for that definitive experience; each of which are accessed through the games title screen.

When it comes to content then DATE A LIVE Rio: Reincarnation is packed to the brim, but depending on your knowledge and understanding of the franchise will ultimately determine your enjoyment of the game. This, in my perspective at least, is DATE A LIVE: Rio: Reincarnation’s biggest weakest and an extremely hard sell to those unfamiliar with the franchise, which, in the UK at least, would raise concerns.

DATE A LIVE, in general, is a romantic comedy of sorts with sci-fi  and harem elements thrown in for good measure and it follows Shido Itsuka, a seemingly average high school student, who finds himself recruited into the organization Ratatoskr, which is ironically run by Shido’s adopted stepsister Kotori, as he attempts to befriend spirits that find themselves appearing within the world. The back-story to this is that thirty years prior a spatial quake erupted destroying cities and killing thousands of people and since then smaller spatial quakes have appeared; with the cause of these quakes being related to the appearance of spirits.

In order to keep these spirits from causing destruction within this particular city Shido Itsuka is tasked with developing bonds with the spirits in order to keep their relationships and happiness level to satisfactory conditions. The first season of the anime series helps cement this back story as well as introduces viewers to some of the spirits that have appeared in the world, namely Tohka and Yoshino – of which play an integral part within this particular game.

DATE A LIVE Rio: Reincarnation meanwhile is videogame instalments based upon events within the DATE A LIVE anime series (and in turn light novel), neither of which have been released in the UK, with events in the games taking place between the events of Season 1 and Season 2 as well as Season 2 and 3 of the anime – so a fair amount of knowledge and understanding of the lore is essential in order to get a firm grasp of the situation. Fortunately, as these games are more a ‘romantic’ visual novel with the focus being shifted to newly introduced characters the backdrop and lore from the anime is not required to enjoy the content of each game.

So… what that being said what exactly is included in this PlayStation 4 game known as DATE A LIVE Rio: Reincarnation. Well to be brutally blunt three visual novels, two of which were originally released onto the PlayStation 3 in Japan, presented in High Definition with English localised text. These games consist of DATE A LIVE Rinne Utopia, DATE LIVE Arusu-Install and DATE A LIVE Reincarnation, with the two former titles being remasters of PlayStation 3 games and the later being a new entry into the franchise.

For those wishing to play them in order then DATE A LIVE Rinne Utopia is the first game, of which takes place directly after the events of the first season of the TV Anime, and sees Shido – the main protagonist of the DATE A LIVE franchise – living happily with Tohka, Yoshino and Kotori. At first things seem normal but when Rinne appears, who is introduced as a childhood friend to Shido, things start to take a more dark and twisted turn. It’s now up to Shido, or should I say the player, to uncover the mystery of Rinne as well as protect Tohka, Yoshino and Kotori from the dangers of their decisions.

The second game included within DATE A LIVE Rio: Reincarnaiton meanwhile is DATE A LIVE Urusu-Install and it takes place directly after the events of the second season. Once again things seem normal, that is with the addition of new spirits being introduced thanks to the second season, but when the group decide to play an interestingly titled video game things start to go wrong. In this scenario Shido is introduced to a girl known as Aritsu and soon enough all Shido, along with Tohka, Yoshino, Kotori and the other spirits, find themselves trapped within the walls of a videogame and have to escape. Its interestingly, but almost familiar, story but it definitely adds a new twist to the tested genre.

The third game meanwhile, which is titled DATE A LIVE Rio: Reincarnaiton, acts an extension of the two aforementioned games with new scenarios that further extend the world of DATE A LIVE. In this instance Shido and the gang are introduced to Rio and they must help her. Surprises aside this story, much like the other two games, branches away from the anime and light novel entries to further create its own world filled with characters. In hindsight this is what DATE A LIVE Rio: Reincarnaiton does; it expands the world of DATE A LIVE with its own stories while not upsetting the lore of the original work.

With that being said how is each game played? Well first and foremost DATE A LIVE Rio: Reincarnation is a visual novel with multiple endings and multi-choice options, each of which will dictate the progression of the story and the ending you shall receive. That being said there isn’t much ‘really’ to talk about in terms of how each game plays as they all operate in the same manner. Beautiful drawn character artwork, with full lip movement and breathing animations, appear on screen to help progress the story along while selective scenes will have carefully drawn artwork set pieces to illustrate whats going on. Scenes can be auto-played, or skipped entirely, while dialogue can also be played back through the ‘past dialogue’ option. All of which are usual traits from a visual novel so nothing new here.

If you are new to visual novels then DATE A LIVE Rio: Reincarnation is a mixture; it has positive traits due to its consistent voice-over and detailed artwork but negative traits due to its simplistic, almost barebones, presentation of text and menu designs. Other than each games story being an extension of the anime series, which is a pretty big issue in some aspects, the simplistic presentation of menus and text, with font almost too thin to read, were my only gripes about this game. This is more of a personal preference as people who want ‘more content’ from within the DATE A LIVE franchise would enjoy what these stories have to offer; but if you are new to the franchise then – as mentioned – it is hard sell.

Fortunately those new to DATE A LIVE will not be completely at a loss, as each games has a ‘quick recap’ of sorts that help explain the events that have had previously. Naturally those that have watched the anime (or read the light novel) will be able to relate and understand what is being illustrated through these recap and introductory portions; but it does help ease someone new in to the game(s) before the overall game story starts.

Gameplay content aside DATE A LIVE Rio: Reincarnaiton features an extensive selection of supplementary content both in terms of ‘in-game unlockables’ as a result of playing the actual game(s) but more so in terms of Drama CDs and Artbooks. Basically limited edition content released in Japan, such as the Art Books and Drama CD’s, have been incorporated into this PlayStation 4 version of the game. The artbooks have been localised, of which feature artwork and character information as well as light novel elements that help expand the story; however the Drama CD’s meanwhile are (as far as I can tell) are just presented in Japanese with no localisation options. A bit of a waste in some aspects but at the same time a nice feature.

Despite its looks DATE A LIVE Rio: Reincarnaiton is more than just a simplistic visual novel; it is a definitive complete package of the Japanese only last-gen games remastered and localised into English alongside Limited Edition contents. Sure enough those looking for a ‘romantic’ styled visual novel will find one here, and naturally this game will only appeal to visual novel fans; but if you’ve ever had any interest in the DATE A LIVE franchise then its well worth giving it a go. If not for the loveable characters and their storylines, but mostly for the Art Books included within the game itself.

Score: review-stars-4

DATE A LIVE Rio:Reincarnation is now available digitally and physically for the PlayStation 4 as well as digitally on Windows PC via Steam.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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