Sony’s portable console might not have a bright future ahead but when it comes to Otome Visual Novels, the PS Vita is the handheld of choice. Bad Apple Wars is the latest release from developer Idea Factory and it is published by Aksys Games in North America. The game is an Otome Visual Novel with the premise of an afterlife school where there are two opposing factions, each with their own interesting cast of characters.
Bad Apple Wars is a slow burn. The story will take a while to pick up properly. Even if you are bored of the premise, it is easy to get attached to the characters some of which are quite well written, but some are equally as bland. There is quite a variety of them to pick here with each sporting their own unique personality and style. You play as a female protagonist Rinka who suddenly finds herself in the afterlife. A mysterious figure with a bunny mask appears to tell her that she has died on her way to school while she has trouble remembering her exact circumstances of death. She will slowly uncover the mystery of this afterlife and get to know more about its crazy characters and the world in general.
Bad Apple Wars attempts to throw a wrench in the Otome genre by offering a story which is fairly dark, grim and full of philosophical writing that talks about death and its impact on life. It is not a typical Otome visual novel and this is clear as soon as the game starts and you go through the prologue. There are not many visual novels that offer such a dark opening as Bad Apple Wars. This is not to say this tone doesn’t fit the game, but it does offer a nice change of pace from most other similar games in the genre.
The name of the game is based on the two opposite sides that you will meet throughout the story. One are the good apple who are known as the prefects, or basically the faculty staff and students of the school who make sure that they obey the rules and law of the school. The other sides are the bad apple or the rebels who are always looking for a way to break the rules and can cause all sorts of chaos. These two sides will remain the focus for the majority of the game and right from the start, you will be given an option choose from these two sides.
The prefects are the one who are in the academy to graduate. They will abide by the law and in this process, lose their own identity and face by developing a robot like persona. Meanwhile the bad apples will always come with a way to break the rules of the school as they have no interest in graduating from the academy. They are looking to get expelled and to accomplish this task, they will have to eat the forbidden apple – but it can be tricky to locate since no one apparently has seen it.
Rinka is able to bond with several of the cast members leading to the only interactive moments in the game where you have limited touch control. Since this is an Otome visual novel, you can expect to find plenty of fan service moments during these special segments where you will be required to touch the body of the boys when you get close together. The touching also results in them remembering some of their past leading to you learning more about them in this process. However, this also leads to them wearing less and less clothes over time and this can turn out to be fairly explicit depending on how you can classify it.
Despite the game presenting a branching storyline, most of the outcomes for the story end up with exactly the same result. You also have a flowchart to go back and try a different path for your character easily, but again the actual story doesn’t appear to have much of an impact here which is disappointing to say the least. The flowchart does offer you a chance to go through most of the characters and learn more about them and their past in this process.
Another aspect that is disappointing is how some of the branching paths have terrible narrative and inconsistent story. While I enjoyed my interaction with majority of the characters, I couldn’t help but shrug at the cliche and overplayed writing for some of these characters. Perhaps a more tightly knitted story and pacing would help here but together with the repetitiveness and the lack of replay value, it doesn’t really end up as a memorable experience that seems to be worth revisiting in the future.
Bad Apple Wars Review (Vita)
Game Reviewed on: Vita
Game description: Fate Strikes when you least expect it, as our heroine soon finds herself on the grounds of an unknown, otherworldly academy. One of many souls left behind by death, she must choose between two warring factions within the walls of the academy. Will she follow the straight path set before her by the disciplinary committee, goaded on by promises of Resurrection? or will she stray into the mire of Bad apples and find a different kind of salvation? the outcome of the Bad Apple Wars is in your hands!
Bad Apple Wars can be classified as an interesting story experience with a lack of gameplay elements. The game offers a quirky cast of characters with a great art style to back them making it an ideal choice for those looking for their next visual novel in the Otome genre.