I spent the last three nights obsessed with Root Letter, or √Letter, a free game I received from Playstation Plus. For those who are unfamiliar, this is a Japanese visual novel game, produced by Kadokawa Games. A visual novel adventure, Root Letter has no mind boggling puzzles to solve, or button mashing action sequences to survive. Instead, game play consists entirely of conversation choices, with some rudimentary inventory management and scene investigation thrown in. Personally, I see such Japanese visual novel games as digital Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories.
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Anyhow, I was engrossed with Root Letter till shameful hours of the morning, deeply intrigued by the J-Style horror premise of the story. Per my usual practice with such games, I did not refer to any walkthrough while playing. Instead, I stuck to selecting only options I would normally go for in real life. My purpose for this playing style, if you’re wondering, is because I get a kick from being told by video games what sort of person I am. Visual novel games always have multiple endings, you see, endings which differ radically in tone and mood. By journeying through the story as closely as I would do so in real life, I get a glimpse at how I would fare in similar situations in real life. To me, it’s like an internal discovery. A meditation, or an enjoyable visit to a shrink. I consider it all as crucial exercises in self realisation.
Guess what? I completed my first run with the boring ending.
Not the worst ending. Just the most boring one.
The anti-climatic one that quite unapologetically tells me, oni-san, you make the dullest choices.
What’s the big deal, you might ask. It’s only a game. Well, that’s true, except Root Letter is hardly the only game I ended up on the boring route. As long as I do not refer to walkthroughs, and as long as I do not make any decision that I would shy away from in real life, I would always end up with the most boring outcome. If I’m treating the game play as an analytical exercise, does it then mean that in truth, I am one hell of a dreary person? Doomed to never have any outstanding life experiences. Fated to fade away from history and existence because I always refrain from doing anything that is a magnet for awesome experiences?
I could be reading too deeply into this. Getting the boring ending could merely imply I lead a safe existence.
But gosh, does it sting!
Other endings of Root Letter offer true love, supernatural creatures, aliens etc. I get the one that says, jitsu wa … It was nothing much … Now please go home and forget about everything.