I spent the last three nights obsessed with Root Letter, a free game I received from Playstation Plus. For those who are unfamiliar, Root Letter is a Japanese visual novel game, produced by Kadokawa Games. There are no mind boggling puzzles to solve, or button mashing action sequences to survive. Instead, gameplay consists entirely of conversation choices, with some rudimentary inventory management and scene investigation thrown in. Personally, I consider visual novel games to be digital Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories.
Anyhow, I was engrossed with Root Letter till the wee 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, sticking to picking the options I would mostly likely go for in real life. My purpose for this playing style, please bear with me for sounding childish, I get a kick from being told by 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. Think of it as, an internal discovery. A meditation. An enjoyable visit to a shrink. That sort of thing.
Guess what? I finished the game with the boring ending.
Not the worst ending. Just the most boring one. The anti-climatic one that quite unapologetically tells me I make the dullest choices.
What’s the big deal, you might ask. It’s just 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 always end up with the most boring outcome. If I’m treating the gameplay 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, because I always refrain from doing anything that is a magnet for such awesome experiences?
I might be reading too deeply into this. Getting the boring ending could imply I lead a safe existence. But it still stings.
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 the mystery.