Ever wanted to rebel and break the rules in high school? Bad Apple Wars is now your second chance to do so. The 2017 title takes you on a peculiar journey of living a life of death and making the decision whether you will be a ‘good apple’ or a ‘bad apple. When you think of otome visual novels, you may imagine sweet, romantic scenes in idyllic settings, however, Bad Apple Wars offer a very different experience.
You play as a protagonist (which you can name later) who is killed in an accident on her first day of high school. She finds herself at the mysterious NEVAEH Academy, where all the students who have died gather. She is told one simple rule, if she follows the rules of the school and is a ‘good apple’, she will graduate and be granted a second chance at life. However, there are a group of rebels called the ‘Bad Apples’, at war with NEVAEH Academy who repeatedly break their continuous list of rules in hopes to be expelled from the school, will this grant them another chance at life?
Bad Apple Wars is a simple visual novel, so you just read the dialogue and text and watch as the story unfolds before you. There is no guide over what the buttons perform, therefore, you must learn through trial and error. After pressing randomly, you will find that the triangle button is the save feature, and it can also be done by swiping right. The start button auto plays the text and the circle skips the text, so you are at risk of missing out important information or dialogue. Furthermore, to save you the trouble of starting the game repeatedly to start new routes with different characters, you can use the right analogue stick to go back to previous chapters, which is useful to those who don’t have the patience to rinse and repeat. The game runs smoothly and there is no lagging at all, so you can enjoy the game and not be annoyed by any graphical difficulties.
Sooner of later in the prologue, you’ll be given the ultimate choice, ‘Will you be a good apple or a bad apple?’. The temptation is obvious, considering that all the good-looking guys are part of the rebellious group. Plus, it gives players a chance to live their fantasy of rebelling against the school and its miserable system. The decision of what side you will be on is the only choice that you will have. This visual novel doesn’t offer players any choices throughout the game, which is disappointing as that’s what the genre normally includes to allow the players to control the protagonist’s destiny. The only aspect that can come even close to making a choice is selecting where you would like to go at the school and the choice of which character you would like to pursue and start routes with. The coloured dots that are indicated on the map symbolises the character based on the colour scheme of their clothing.
So, you’ll probably ask yourself, how do you get the good and bad endings in this game?
Otomate have decided to baffle and perhaps satisfy the masses by creating a feature called ‘Soul touching’ mode, where you touch parts of the body of your man of choice. When he reacts positively, with white circles, you will get the good ending. If you keep pressing blue cracks on parts of the body repetitively, you will trigger the bad ending. You enter these ‘soul touching moments’ at particular moments in the game, and although they feel awkwardly forced at times and tedious, you discover more about their life before death and create more of an intimate relationship with them. It certainly sets itself apart from its competitors, however, having the choice to control how the story goes sounds like a more attractive suggestion for visual novel fans, or maybe not.
The music sounds like a crossover between Danganronpa and Professor Layton and is strangely pleasant and quirky during the quieter moments in the game. Then when action takes place the music takes a dynamic change, therefore, there is variety and keeps your attention focused on what is happening. The design of the game is bold and has punk style to it (colours of red, black and white) which matches the portrayal of the Bad Apples, and the layout of the school is plain and grey which certainly matches the miserable system of NEVAEH Academy and its lack of individuality and creativity.
Otomate has also done a great job with localisation, however, like all translated Japanese visual novels there are a few odd sentences that you can’t help but laugh at. One example, is ‘I’m millions of miles far from a max level sadist, I’m a garden variety sadist.’ There is also voice acting, which is impressive, although it is in Japanese. Even though you may not understand the language, it is expressive and truly brings the characters to life and suits their personality well.
Bad Apple Wars is easy to navigate through and once you learn the functions of the button, you can easily cruise through the game and enjoy the story. The one massive improvement that could have been made is to allow us to make more choices that would influence the ending and have more opportunity to interact more with the game, instead of awkwardly poking parts of the male body. However, Bad Apple Wars delivers its story well with quirky, unique characters and the themes alone starts to make you think about death and the potential life after it, treasuring the things that matter most to us. It’s an interesting perspective to have which wouldn’t be expected from a typical otome visual novel, so it’s definitely worth checking this game especially if you’re a fan of visual novels and otome romances or games such as Danganronpa which focus on rebelling against the system.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Vita code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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