Game Review: Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Survival, mystery and memory loss are common themes amongst Japanese developed titles, and even more so in visual novels, but Yeti’s Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition take it to a whole other level. Find out what we thought of this enhanced edition for the Nintendo Switch, which is available digitally from the NIntendo eShop as well as physically through retail and limited editions.

Title: Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition
Publisher: Sekai Games
Developer: Yeti
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Audio: Japanese
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: 7.9GB

Our View:

Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition originally began life in Japan on the Xbox 360 and Windows PC as Root Double -Before Crime * After Days in 2012 before donning the additional text “Xtend Edition” for it’s Japanese PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita re-release in 2014. Shortly after its Japanese debut Sekai Project localised and released the title on Steam (for Windows PC) in 2016 and now, more than four years later, the title finds a new home on Nintendo’s hybrid console, the Nintendo Switch.

Even before diving into what will undoubtedly be a complicated and long visual novel experience Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition has a rich and vibrant history that makes owning the game on console feel that extra bit special, and even more so on the Nintendo Switch which is becoming the “go to place” for visual novel titles aside from Steam.

Speaking of special Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition has also received the Limited-Edition treatment from Strictly Limited Games (as reported here), including a Super Limited Edition that comes with a Daki Pillow Case featuring two of the games key characters, but sadly we are not here to talk about those today.

At its core Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition is a visual novel game, which means there is more text and dialogue than actual interaction. But unlike ‘story only’ visual novel titles that have been made available on Nintendo’s hybrid console Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition will allow players to experience a rather twisted and apocalyptic story with an intuitive interaction system that helps players reach the multiple endings that are available.

More importantly Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition features two distinctive storylines known as “√Before” and “√After” with each offering a unique experience that, when combined together, deliver the complete picture of the overall story being told.

That’s not to say that each storyline is incomplete, far from it, it’s just by playing through both storylines you’ll understand and appreciate the overall story that is being told. It goes without saying that each storyline can be played stand-a-lone, with each having their own unique merits, and both offer a variety of different endings to explore. √Before for instance has five different endings while √After has a whopping nineteen different endings. In simple terms ‘a lot’ of playtime is required should you wish to experience everything within the game.

Naturally saving at crucial points within each respective story can help reduce the overall game time, but from a pure enjoyment factor Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition can be played leisurely, and multiple times, something which only a handful of visual novel titles manage to achieve.

From a storyline perspective although √After takes place after the events of √Before I would suggest playing through √After first as not only is √Before seemingly shorter but I felt it helps present the flow of the overall story better. Of course how you play is entirely up to you, and it is nice to be offered that variety. In terms of storylines then √Before focuses on Natsuhiko and his friends who work together to unravel events occurring within the area and learn more about the telekinesis abilities they own.In √After the story sees the player as part of a rescue team as they attempt to escape the research facility while at the same time the group help the player recover his own memories.

The storyline of √After is further expanded upon when secrets of the facility begin to surface, and the memories of the player return, thus causing players to adjust and adapt to the ever-changing scenario. From a simplistic view the story within √Before offers a more traditional visual novel storyline, with every day school antics mixed with mysterious events, whereas √After offers a complete different type of experience that is filled with a sense of urgency and death.

It goes without saying that those are simplistic ways of explaining what each storyline in Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition has to offer, and unveiling any more details could potentially spoil the surprises that lie in store for you, but the reason for this simple explanation is also partly due to the game being filled with informative detail and lore. From the moment the game starts you’ll be bombarded with informative and detailed terms that, at face value are pretty boring to remember, but could prove informative in the future.

Fortunately should you forget any of the important details while playing you can access a TIPS section from the pause menu which provides the detail you may need. This isn’t an uncommon inclusion for a visual novel, especially for stories that can become quite complex, but these tips also provide informative details about the world you are within. It’s also worth noting that new tips and details about the world will become unlocked as you progress through the game.

From a visual perspective Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition operates in the traditional manner of a visual novel by having detailed character artwork, with lip movements to match the Japanese voice over, displayed with a text box below. Although the the character artwork is relatively static this art will move and change to another posture, or another character, depending on the situation unfolding.

It’s not the most ‘engaging’ style of art presentation, with artwork being relatively flat on screen, but the fact that character lips move in time with the Japanese audio and move across the screen means that it offers something that not all visual novel titles provide. We also have to remind ourselves that, while an enhanced port, the mechanics and art style is nearly a decade old and still holds its own today when compared with brand new entries in the genre.

In terms of gameplay then, as many visual novel fans will know, that gameplay is simply reading the dialogue and making important choices in order to achieve the different endings on offer. However unlike traditional visual novel experiences, of which offer branching options during conversations, the player must utilise a gameplay mechanic that puts trust into other characters on screen. During the past six years of playing visual novels, I have never encountered such a system and it adds a further sense of spice to the game which others have failed to create with “choice based” systems.

In the case of Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition players will actively have to read and understand the text being displayed and if a ‘choice’ is given the Senses Sympathy icon will appear on screen. By pressing the corresponding button, the players will be able to adjust the trust values of the characters in conversation and depending on the level of trust given will depend on how the story will progress.

It sounds complicated, and the long-winded-tutorial during the prologue doesn’t help alleviate this confusion, but once put into motion it works confusingly well. As an example an early choice in √After will see you attempt to rescue a girl trapped inside a room filled with fire. Should you choose to ignore your companions request, of letting them save the girl, then you will die and encounter a game over screen, but should you succumb to their suggestion and let them save the girl then you will progress forward in the story and earn their trust in the process.

Instead of “choice branches”, which see the player select a piece of dialogue to alter the flow of the story, Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition offers “trust scenarios” to change the direction of the story. To make things a little more interesting for the player some scenarios will offer a change in the flow of the story, while others will simply offer a bit more context to the relationships on screen. These differing scenarios will be depicted in the colour of the SSD with Red being an alteration, Yellow being a possible alteration and Green (or Blue) resulting in no change.

This type of integration for changing the flow of the story creates multiple replay values for those wishing to experience the storyline anew, which when combined with the different endings means each playthrough can be a relatively different experience. Naturally depending on your enjoyment of the story, and its characters, will vary whether or not this turns out to be a chore. Personally, I prefer visual novels to be simplistic so that I can enjoy the story and read at my own pace, but with Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition I had a sense of tension (with perhaps a hint of Anxiety) whether or not I was giving characters the correct among of trust. Additionally, unlike traditional “choice branch” options there is no direct way of knowing whether the options you choose were beneficial, not until it is too late at least.

Whether you like it or lump this type of choice creation is different and unique, but more importantly it further spices up what one could expect from a visual novel experience. As mentioned before previous titles are simply text based with little to no interaction, excluding a handful of titles at least, but here it consistently keeps you on edge, and that is before you begin to explore the stories that are being told on screen.

Put simply Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition has a deep story played through two different perspectives and each of these evolve during the course of your playthrough. The inclusion of the Senses Sympathy system, a system that sees players make choices by adjusting trust, adds a further element of the interaction that other visual novel titles lack and others a sense that you are in control of the story rather than letting the story play out itself.

These unique elements, combined with the detailed character art with full Japanese voice over, give Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition a premium feel that most visual do not offer. For this Nintendo Switch release the elements are enhanced due to the consoles flexibility of being a hybrid console and the elements of the game work exceptionally well with the Nintendo Switch’s “pick up and go” persona of a console.

Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition learning curve is steep, despite being a visual novel, but overcoming these complications delivers a story like non-other and offers an enriched experience that is only rivaled by titles such as STEINS;GATE and ROBOTICS;NOTES. This isn’t a fan-service romantic comedy, it’s a compelling scenario that gets more interesting the further you go down the rabbit hole.

Score: review-stars-4

Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition is available digitally on the Nintendo Switch via the Nintendo eShop within Europe and is also available physically at retail and as a limited edition through Strictly Limited Games.

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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