DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation Review

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Date A Live Rio Reincarnation is a collection of three dating simulators/visual novels that had been previously released in Japan some years ago. Set in the Date A Live universe, this title encompasses Rinne Utopia, Arusu Install, and Rio Reincarnation–the first, second, and third games in the series respectively. Date A Live Rio Reincarnation revolves around Shido, an average Japanese high schooler. Shido inexplicably has the ability to seal Spirits, young women possessing incredible powers that run the risk of going berserk if their emotions become unstable, with a kiss. In order to stabilize the Spirits, Shido must spend time with them and go on dates, leading him to hilarious, suggestive, and sometimes uncomfortable situations. Without Shido’s presence, a berserk Spirit could end the world as we know it, so go forth and date!

The premise is a lot to take in, but Date A Live Rio Reincarnation does an okay job of giving you the information you need in order to not be totally lost–for the most part. In any case, there are times when one makes a purchase without knowing exactly what they’re getting themselves into and, for me, Date A Live Rio Reincarnation was just that. If you’re like me, you’re sold on the premise of dating cute anime girls and maybe being subjected to a bit of fan service–but does Date A Live Rio Reincarnation manage to do so while also being worth reading?

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Yes… And no. On one hand, Date A Live Rio Reincarnation has charming characters and a decent script. I found myself laughing aloud on more than one occasion (though sometimes due to incredulity) and holding my breath on others. Across all possible date prospects, there’s a good number of personalities you’ll encounter and you’re bound to genuinely like a character enough to want to get to know them better. Pursuing a character does in fact give you more information about her–which is nice–but at times it felt like I was just scratching the surface and I’m tempted to watch the anime just for the sake of saying my own curiosity. This could have been solved by adding more contextual text or even an in-game glossary.

On the other, there’s Date A Live Rio Reincarnation’s reliance on fan service leads to scenes without substance and “dates” that consist of just a few text lines and decisions that don’t seem to have any bearing on the possible ending. That being said, sometimes even simple actions like disagreeing with a date at the wrong moment can lead to an abrupt game over–an unrealistic and frustrating outcome that just seems tacked on for the sake of having multiple endings. In other instances, making a decision results in the same outcome either way, just with slightly different wording. Because of Date A Live Rio Reincarnation’s limited setting, things get repetitive quickly–even over the course of a mere six days in the case of Rinne Utopia.

I haven’t played the original Japanese release, but upon doing some digging it would seem that Rio Reincarnation is a somewhat truncated experience in comparison to the single game releases, which feature more dialogue options and possible endings. Considering the price to content ratio, I’d say this is a fair trade off. There’s also the issue of the translation, which is cringe-worthy in some instances and will bother some of the more avid reader types. I understand that a 1:1 translation loses a lot of meaning, but it seemed like the localization team needed to go over the text again with a fine tooth comb.

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Date A Live Rio Reincarnation is drawn in the anime art style and the character models are expressive, changing expression appropriately with the text on-screen. There’s a fluidity to the way they shift that I haven’t seen before and that gave another dimension to the one-dimensional character models. The music for the most part isn’t note-worthy, though it does pick up during battle scenes. There’s a disappointing lack of animated cutscenes and even the most epic battles are illustrated via the on-screen character models combines with sound effects and particle effects. These aforementioned sound effects are somewhat low budget in quality–the chirp of cicadas, for instance, which are a staple of Japanese summers, sounds more like the buzz of a low-powered engine. This lead to a disconnect where I stopped reading the text to wonder what the hell I had just heard.

While Date A Live Rio Reincarnation does a great job of portraying its world and characters, sub par translation and cheap sound assets keep it from being an immersive experience. As far as visual novels go, Date A Live Rio Reincarnation  looks and acts the part, but as a dating sim it could have done a better job with meaningful decisions and situations. Still, these flaws aside I think fans of the universe will enjoy themselves. Those looking for their first excursion into Date A Live may want to start with the anime.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation Video Game Review
  • Gameplay - 6/10
    6/10
  • Graphics - 6/10
    6/10
  • Sound - 6/10
    6/10
  • Replay Value - 6/10
    6/10
0/10
User Review
0/10 (0 votes)
0/10
Comments Rating 0/10 (0 reviews)
Overall
6/10

Summary

A spoiler free review from someone who isn’t familiar with the anime. Let’s date!

Pros

  • Three games in one.
  • Full voice acting (for the girls).
  • Accuracy of character models and behaviours on par with the anime source material.
  • Helpful functions like “skip read,” quick save/load, and highlights text you’ve already seen.
  • Three chapters/worlds, ensuring you’ll get your money’s worth.
  • Multiple endings–one for each character and a variety of game over screens.

Cons

  • Translation poorly done in some places.
  • Dialogue tends to repeat itself ad nauseum, superficially adding to word count.
  • Almost impossible to understand some references without research on your part, which could have easily been rectified by adding context or a glossary.
  • Dialogue choices that set off the Spirits sometimes trite and unrealistically lead to a game over.
  • The game uses the word “date” very vaguely. Very limited activities and locations leads things to get boring fairly quickly.
  • Sound assets very phoned-in.

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