Visual novels are a very different kind of gamegenre within the industry. You can hardly call it games. You are mainly reading text. Of course this also has its advantages. There are more options to make the story interesting and more attention can be given to the audiovisual experience. The genre is very popular in Japan and also has quite a few fans in the West. Raging Loop is a horror visual novel by developer Kemco. Raging Loop was already released on Steam in 2017, but only in Japanese. Now about two years later, publisher pQube is publishing an English version for both the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch.
The story begins with main character Haruaki Fusaishi. Harauaki has just been dumped by his girlfriend and goes on an adventure in the mountains on his motorcycle. During his journey he gets lost. Fortunately he comes across a gas station, where an eccentric cashier leads him to the nearest town of Yasumizu. Yasumizu is a remote village high in the Japanese mountains, yet while he is there he also gets engine trouble and he goes to Yasumizu on foot.
At first glance everything seems fine. He is greeted by an attractive girl who immediately takes him to her room. After drinking some beers with that girl that evening, the next morning he finds out that it is going to be difficult to get out of Yasumizu. A thick fog has been drawn over the village and no one is able to leave. In addition, the rest of the residents of Yasumizu are not happy with the arrival of Haruaki. The arrival of an outsider ensures that a curse hits the village. The curse causes one of the villagers to turn into a werewolf and from there the main adventure begins.
Let me try to explain what the curse is. The curse can best be compared to the deduction game werewolves. The werewolves (it can be one, but also several) kill one or more residents in the village at night. In order not to be killed, every villager shuts himself up during the night. If people stay together, the werewolves can kill them all. The villagers hold a “party” during the day to see who should be hanged today. The purpose of this is to identify and kill the werewolves. They are hiding as one of the villagers. This cycle continues until the werewolves or people have won.
Just like in the game werewolves, there are other roles that residents get. You have the snake, which can determine whether one of the villagers is a werewolf. Two residents are monkeys, and know of each other that they are a monkey. As a result, they also automatically know that they are not a werewolf. The crow can determine if the person being hung during the day is a wolf and the spider can protect a person. This means that the werewolves cannot kill this person this day. Each character changes role (snake, crow etc.) when a new cycle is started.
Raging Loop knows how to convey the horror well. No person can be trusted and you are never safe. It is interesting to see on what grounds residents accuse each other. Some residents rely on facts, where others are guided by prejudices. This causes a lot of paranoia within the group and is very reminiscent of the “class trials” from Danganronpa.
As the title of the game suggests, there are several “loops” or cycles in the story. Raging Loop contains multiple bad endings. Every time you have a bad ending, you will be rewarded with a key. You can use the keys again at different moments in the game. With some keys you jump back a little in the game, but other keys make you start all over again. This can sometimes feel strange, because at times the story just feels like it’s done. With each cycle, however, you get more background about the residents, so your choices can change during a party. The residents are all unique with a well-developed background and their motives are also well expressed.
Where Raging Loop excels in telling a horror story, it drops a bit on the audiovisual level. The tension in the story is constantly cut and the crime scenes are described in great detail. However, the crime scenes are never shown. There is only a black screen visible with some red spots. The use of backgrounds and animations is limited. Backgrounds are often reused and characters have almost no animations. The Japanese voices can sometimes even sound mediocre. It is very unfortunate that the good storytelling is supported by a mediocre audiovisual presentation. For a visual novel, the audiovisual presentation is very important and can be distinctive. Other visual novels, for example, do this much better. Think of Steins; Gate Elite, Danganronpa or 428: Shibuya Scramble.
Raging Loop is nevertheless a very successful visual novel. Ultimately, it’s all about the story and that’s just great for each other. Raging Loop also knows how to convey the horror. The “werewolves” -like game is interestingly elaborated, and because the roles of the residents change with a new cycle, Raging Loop remains interesting enough to read through. That it does not make sense in the audiovisual field should not spoil the fun. If you are interested in visual novels and you feel like reading a good horror story, then Raging Loop is definitely worth it!
Although the game lacks a little on the graphical side. Raging Loop tells an entertaining and tense story that is similar to a famous card game.