A Must Read.
Genre: Visual Novel
Release Date (EU): 10/18/19
Release Date (NA): 10/22/19
Reading through visual novels is always a treat for me. They have aspects of a traditional novel combined with building blocks from other mediums to enhance the experience. These may include fully rendered characters, music, and voice acting. Although the degree of effectiveness may vary depending on the quality and implementation of these features, it is still generally what I prefer. Authors can now accurately convey what kind of scene, mood or other details that they had in mind that mere words simply will not suffice or do justice. Raging Loop is one such visual novel that enjoys these benefits supported by the strong foundation that is its story.
Raging Loop focuses on Haruaki Fusaishi, a 24 years old graduate student from Tokyo, who just experienced a breakup. He tries to get away from it all which eventually brings him to the countryside. Unfortunately, he got into an accident and had to spend a night in a settlement by the name of Yasumizu. While its inhabitants are not necessarily malicious or hostile, they are somewhat close-minded due to their local beliefs. As such, Fusaishi is mostly met with distrust and disgust. Things take a turn for the worst when a dense mist appeared and people started turning up dead in grotesque ways. Is this a work of a psycho murderer? or something more sinister and intangible as the villagers seem to believe? It matters not as our main character lays there dying….until he’s not. Fusaishi realizes that he is back on his motorcycle on the all too familiar street of the countryside sometime before the accident. Was that all a dream or reality? Fusaishi ponders as he set out to solve the mystery behind this phenomenon filled with unexpected twists and turns.
“The Feast of Yomi-Purge” myth
It is said that a person is killed each day by what essentially are the wolve gods disguised as humans. To counteract this, the mountain god Shin’nai-sama dictates that the humans must hold “the Feast of Yomi-purge,” The Feast for short, in which all qualified surviving humans of Yasumizu are gathered to decide on who to hang to eliminate the wolves. The feast is not only a part of the villagers’ religious belief but also the unconventional means of stopping the massacre. This is mostly a battle between logic and lies. All manners of strategies like information manipulation and other trickeries are used here by both the wolves and men alike. As such, the tension always runs high. It is more civil than you think but also more savage than you could imagine.
While one may assume that a supernatural force is behind everything due to the existence of time loop phenomena, this may not necessarily be the case. This is because the circumstances surrounding all the deaths have signs that indicate either way. Some deaths point to human hands while others beg to differ. What’s clear is that all the killings seem to coincide with the rule of the Feast and thus even Fusaishi, a non-believer outsider, has no choice but to partially use this aged myth as a basis for deductive reasoning.
The Logical Man
What I appreciate in Raging Loop is how the story is presented through the eyes and thoughts of Haruaki Fusaishi. The story is told from the main character’s perspective as he delves deeper into the many mysteries of Yasumizu. Because he is an outsider, Fusaishi also doubles as an audience character whom the readers can relate with as he is new to the village. Another thing that we can relate with is that he has an outlook of a regular joe, albeit with the tendency to overanalyze things. As a relatively somewhat decent guy, he has common sense and moral compass that a normal person could expect from someone of today’s society. In short, Fusaishi is both the audience and baseline character on how a normal person would perceive a more backward environment where strange events are happening and their effects on the people of Yasumizu.
I have to mention that I find how in-depth Raging Loop details Fusaishi thought process to be extremely interesting. This visual novel often goes into great detail on what basis and logic he uses to reach the conclusions. You can expect him to analyzes things like “what implication will this course of action have on both sides” or “is this person suspicious because he is not contributing as much as he could during the Feast?” There is a lot of mind games sort of mentality in play here which is not limited to just our main character. Keep in mind that his speculations on various subjects may not always be correct. Fusaishi understandably lacks familiarity with the area and its myths surrounding Yasumizu. This can often result in certain death coming from both the wolves and humans. This is where “keys” come in.
The key is a mechanic in Raging Loop that represents vital information that Haruaki Fusaishi has gained. The way keys are obtained can range from simply picking a choice to dying in a dead-end route. Death is inevitable. Remember that Fusaishi is stuck in a time-loop for reasons unknown that put him back at the starting point for each time he perishes. He may die but he is able to retain some key information that may prevent his possible deaths and unveil the mysteries of Yasumizu. Keys allows Fusaishi to access previously inaccessible choices and drastically change how events are unfolded that can lead to entirely different scenarios.
Having to go back to an earlier point in time and sifting through old text can be boring even with the prospect of unlocking an entirely new route with god knows what keys. Thankfully, a solution for this is built-in. You can simply use the story chart option from the menu which is accessible at any time to just jump to any desired point. The chart will show you what key(s) is needed to unlock new options so the player doesn’t have to go through the whole trial and error ordeal. If this is not enough, there are also several voiced hint sections which more or less do the same thing but with more personality and flavor.
I must say that I quite like the character art in Raging Loop. The characters are well-realized through their designs that exude their personalities to a certain extent. The many expressions they have as story progress are something that I will never get tired of. You feel sympathy for these characters when they are sad and smile when they are being light-hearted. This becomes even more effective with them being fully voiced. While these are not necessarily something new to visual novels, it is still nice to see that they are implemented well. I think I would have preferred to see a bit more of event CGs. However, I suppose it is also possible that the developers did not want to over-utilize them to preserve their impacts.
The background music works well in conjunction with the art, story, and voice acting to convey the mood and charms that words just cannot capture. This is not to say that descriptive details are all out the window. They are there when needed in ample quantity but just not as much as a traditional novel. Not to mention that by not having to focus on those details all the time, the game can revolve more on the logic and story as told by the main character.
Raging Loop is an excellent visual novel that combines both religionism and rationalism to work together in its favor. While the majority of the concept that it draws from is not brand new, it is executed beautifully. The way the story is told in which the main character’s line of reasoning is explored is extremely interesting. There are numerous twists, reveals, and callbacks that are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Combining these with the replayability brought forth by key mechanic and other…secrets, and you are in for quite an emotional roller coaster ride. What more can you ask from a visual novel? If even the tiniest fraction of its premise appeals to you, hesitate no further and get Raging Loop.