This visual novel takes place in 2030 and is set in a nuclear research facility known as “LABO” – Laboratory of Atomic and Biological Organization. Two interconnected stories feature, both available from the outset. One part stars Watase Kasasagi, a rescue squad captain experiencing memory loss following a meltdown at the facility. The other features Natshiko Tenkawa and takes place six days before the incident.
After picking a character you’ll begin to piece together what happened, plucking tidbits from each story.
One of the more unique features present is known as the Senses Sympathy System (SSS), which allows you to make choices based on the level of emotion towards other characters. Depending on how much you trust the characters you meet, this will affect possible decisions and outcomes.
Progression is a case of selecting one of three choices, and although this may sound simple, it’s still a set-up able to facilitate a complex story. Completing both protagonist’s storylines eventually reveals a way out of the facility. This unlocks the final ‘root’ of the story which can be short or long, depending on decisions made.
Not only is this a story of survival, but one of discovery – the characters have special powers, and a mysterious world also features. Without spoiling much or going into detail, the story quickly expands in ways you’ll likely never expect, even touching upon society and racism.
It also introduces something called an anti-radiation inhibitor, which is used to trust others unconditionally.
One thing you shouldn’t expect is blue skies and bright colours. As the story is set in a nuclear plant, the colour palette mostly consists of dark tones. High-quality artwork helps pick up some slack here, successfully showing the extend of meltdown and the level of devastation caused.
Despite being expertly localised the story itself is a little slow – sometimes even dragging in places – but I always wanted to find out more.
If you’re new to the genre this is a somewhat daunting place to start due to the purposely confusing plot – of which a lexicon of fabricated words is partly to blame; just look at the game’s title, for pity’s sake – and a slight lack of accessibility. If you’re a visual novel diehard though, then you may want to ‘root’ this one out as it’s deeper than most.
Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition is out now on Switch for £35.99.