Developer – Key
Translator – Amaterasu Translations
Length – >50 Hours
PPD Experienced – No
Rewrite was a Visual Novel that I had been looking forward to playing for quite some time, as I had enjoyed previous Key productions like Clannad and Little Busters!. While Rewrite has a fairly high production value I feel that it falls short in its creative department, mostly due to an inconsistent tone and variable story quality. Many others seem to have thoroughly enjoyed it though, so you might too, but it’s not a title that I plan on ever revisiting. There were actually 3 writers involved in Rewrite’s production so it’s difficult to review their work all in one go. Because of this I’m going to be writing a little bit for each of the routes in the game; there aren’t going to be any spoilers, but bear with me because this is going to be a little longer than most of my reviews.
It’s kind of hard to come up with a summary for Rewrite’s plot but I’ll give it a go anyway. Tennouji Kotarou is a rather average high school student living in Kazamatsuri, an environmentally friendly town supporting cutting edge environmental research. What isn’t average about Kotarou, however, is his ability to rewrite his own body in any way he wishes; he can become stronger and faster at any time he chooses. Due to his strange power and his choice of friends, Kotarou becomes caught up in a war between two major factions with the fate of the world at stake (literally). In a battle of superhumans versus summoners and their familiars, can anyone really come out on top?
Overall, Rewrite attempts to tell a story using ideas, as opposed to atmosphere. For example, it’s very different to state that “there was a battle and this, this and this happened” than it is to craft a narrative that engages its readers. It’s all well and good to say “and then he pulled out a 5 meter long sword and another person launched it like a missile while I was holding onto it”, but you can’t just throw that kind of thing in willy-nilly and expect a good story to come out of it. Some people will be entranced by that sort of writing, perhaps filling in the gaps with their own imagination, but for me there needs to be some sort of justification for what’s going on; if the pieces don’t connect then the whole puzzle doesn’t form properly. What I’m trying to explain isn’t the easiest concept to get across, so I’ll just move on and try to convey it through the examples I give.
In addition to the issues described above, Rewrite as a whole is just kind of…shallow, I guess. It was often very easy to see which feelings a scene was supposed to evoke, but they hardly ever actually made me feel that way. It’s sort of like the writers finished the basic story they wanted to tell and then just tacked on emotive language afterwards as an afterthought. Being an all-ages VN there are no H-scenes, but if a title tries to include romance it needs to go beyond a basic acknowledgement that two people are going out and Rewrite never feels the need to go that far (with only 2 real exceptions). Despite the overall poor quality of the writing, though, the characters themselves are all well done and have interesting pasts – even if there are parts where their actions aren’t consistent with what their personalities would dictate they do.
Here’s where I get into specific criticism for each route (spoiler-free!), so if you’re not interested in that then you can just skip ahead to the AV stuff. On top of its seven-ish end routes Rewrite has a long and meandering common route, so I should probably start there.
The common route’s length and over-the-top events, coupled with the fact that very little actually happens during it, very nearly put me off Rewrite from the beginning. It has a silly tone overall which fails to mesh with everything that comes after and serves to unbalance the entire Visual Novel. I think the idea was to use juxtaposition to emphasize the change between the carefree high school life of the protagonist and the mysterious, deadly world he is thrust into at its conclusion, but the switch from silly to serious isn’t pulled off for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is that there are a lot of factors that are purely silly in the common route are revisited during the later game with the expectation that they should then be taken seriously. On top of that there are parts where the VN randomly jumps back into the over the top jokes and situations; it’s actually rather jarring.
Another issue I have is that the pacing of everything is radically off in places. Relatively trivial things are long and drawn out while more important and interesting points are skimmed over. This is shown best in Kotori’s route, so I suppose I’ll move onto that. I’m going to go in order of the routes I liked best (starting at the worst), so expect a bit of negative feedback for the next few paragraphs.
Kotori is the obligatory childhood friend character that I normally quite like but in Rewrite she gets relatively little attention, which is a shame because her background is really very interesting (remember those bits I said were skimmed over? That’s one of them). Her route is probably the shortest and least well-done of the lot, with things moving very slowly right up until the incredibly rushed ending and sad excuse for an epilogue. An epilogue which Kotori doesn’t even feature in, by the way, making it hard to wrap up her relationship with the protagonist; though that’s just Rewrite’s first example of how not to do romance in a Visual Novel. I guess the biggest disappointment about this route is that it had the potential to be so much better – the writers had a genuinely interesting and heart-breaking character in Kotori but proceeded to throw her story to the dogs (literally, actually).
Chihaya is the obligatory rich transfer student character (or maybe not-so-obligatory…oh well). Her route is the biggest offender in a number of categories, so I’m not entirely sure why I rate it higher than Kotori’s…I suppose it’s because there’s at least a little more interaction between the two leads, even if their supposed relationship never goes beyond words. At the beginning of the review I gave an example featuring a five meter long sword, which I pulled directly from this route. No, the sword isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the VN. I can only assume they’re trying to overload the reader’s “cool” receptors in an effort to hide their guilt over featuring the “and then they lived peacefully ever aft- oh wait there’s a giant monster that appeared out of nowhere!” cliché. Unfortunately, however, Chihaya’s route is full of that sort of stuff, even to the point where it eclipses any other good features it may have had.
Shizuru is the obligatory quiet love interest from another year character (perhaps I’m taking this obligatory thing too far…), though I don’t have all that much to say about her route. It was better than the first two, having decently explored her past and moderately developed her relationship with the protagonist. The ending was rushed but not to an obnoxious degree, though the epilogue was just weird and completely unsatisfactory (I would love to rant about it but there would be spoiler issues). It was average in most senses of the word with very little actually happening, but I liked Shizuru as a character, so there’s that.
Akane is the obligatory student-who-holds-executive-power-over-everyone-and-literally-lives-in-her-own-office-in-the-high-school character. Wouldn’t it be weird if those really did crop up everywhere? In any case the point I’m trying to make is that she’s different and that’s good. She starts off a little slow but once you get into things the improvement in quality is readily apparent – this was one of the only two routes I was genuinely interested in finishing because the writing and events portrayed were engaging and exciting. The romance feels a little awkward, but at least it’s there and fits the character involved. Akane’s route also had one of the only two epilogues I enjoyed, featuring some good, albeit a little rushed character development that actually made sense.
Remember how I mentioned that there were 3 writers involved in Rewrite? One of them only penned one particular route and it was hands down the best of the lot. Lucia is the obligatory class-rep character that repeatedly suffers from misunderstandings with the protagonist. Here we have a character with an interesting quirk, a tragic (and damn, is it tragic) past that she makes progress toward overcoming and the ability to form and maintain a meaningful relationship with another human being. Lucia’s story is almost entirely different from all the others, veering away from the main plot for the most part while remaining connected in a sensible way. Lucia’s character development was a step ahead of any other character in this Visual Novel and her route was also the only one with anything resembling appropriate pacing, though I do have one complaint.
There is a point near the end of the route where Lucia’s personality does a complete 180; there are reasons for it but I feel that they don’t justify the extent to which her core values change. It’s almost like her character was warped to fit the plot rather than the plot being adapted to her character. Despite that problem, however, Lucia’s route was the only one that gave me any sort of PPD worth mentioning.
Once you’ve survived the first five routes two more become available. The Moon and Terra routes attempt to bring everything together (much like Refrain did in Little Busters!), but the excuse used for everything being related is the most bland they could have ever come up with. The concept of the Moon route is relatively interesting and I liked it better than Terra, but it’s still fairly average overall with a big Deus Ex Machina event at the end that fans of Chihaya’s route will just love, but that for me served as another break from proper storytelling on Rewrite’s part.
The Terra route is a little odd in that, while being the finale of the entire Visual Novel, it doesn’t feature any of the main heroines in any meaningful way. Instead it focuses on many of the side characters introduced throughout Rewrite that never seemed all that important anyway, and for that reason it’s hard to view it as anything more than average. I would be the first one to admit that the earlier routes may have blunted any positive reaction I may have had to the ending, though two out of seven (not counting the common route) isn’t a good run no matter how you spin it.
For those of you that left us at the start of the route discussion, here’s the score:
Bad: Chihaya > Kotori > Common (2-4/10)
Average: Moon > Shizuru > Terra (5-7/10)
Good: Lucia > Akane (8-9/10)
That may upset some people, but remember that I started playing Rewrite with positive expectations so these opinions were formed despite that.
On the AV side of things I have to start by praising the work done for Rewrite’s OST. There were a couple of really good tracks in there, including original voiced songs, that did a great job of setting the mood throughout the Visual Novel, and the voice acting was pretty darn good too. Visually I felt that Rewrite was a step back for Key – the tiny pool of backgrounds (considering the length of the story) and odd character proportions were really obvious. The overall quality was fairly good though, so those complaints are minor ones in the long run.
Summary – I really wanted to like Rewrite – I looked forward to playing it for a long time before I actually did – but when I only enjoyed two out of the seven routes I would be lying if I said I plan on playing it again in the future or recommending it to anyone. On the high end of average visually and with a good OST, a mixture of poor pacing, average writing and jarring changes in tone make Rewrite much less than it could have been. My opinion isn’t the only one out there though, and a lot of people liked Rewrite, so it may still be worth a go.
Plot – 5/10
Characters – 7/10
Audio/Visual – 7/10
Overall Score: 6/10 – Average
I haven’t gotten around to Rewrite yet, but you liked Lucia’s route huh… that would be the one written by Ryukishi07 right? Perhaps its a sign for you to check out Higurashi/Umineko no naku koro ni, if you haven’t already. The latter has given me PPD to last a lifetime!
I definitely intend to give them a go! Is there any connection between the two or one I should play before the other?
I have a list of VNs to play a mile long and Umineko is 40th or so. Perhaps I should bump it up, as I have to say it looks really nice with the PS3 sprites.
Higurashi isn’t really similar in tone to Lucia’s route at all (except for the mystery elements at the start). Haven’t read Umineko yet. Note that while people generally recommend PS2 sprites for Higurashi, opinions on Umineko’s PS3 sprites are significantly more varied.
There are apparently a few references to Higurashi in Umineko, but you can read umineko first if you want.
…A comment on the review? Uh… I think we’re coming from such different points when it comes to Rewrite that any discussion will be near meaningless. I feel there’s something wrong with every third sentence or so (this may be moderate hyperbole), and it would take much too long to type out all my objections.
That’s fair enough. Sometimes opinions are just so different that the best option is to accept that you disagree. I’m pretty comfortable with my opinion of Rewrite and I imagine you are with yours, as many others are, which is why i’ve mentioned in multiple places that my view definitely isn’t the only one out there.
Although, if you don’t mind sharing, I would be interested to hear what your favorite route was.
Best character route: Kotori. Akane was second, though.
Overall best: Terra. I don’t know where you got that people seem to not like it from; quite a lot of people consider it their favorite from what I’ve read.
I wasn’t the one who said that >.<
*Zakamutt wonders what he was smoking when he wrote that
I’ve only read the first arc (out of the main 8) of Higurashi, before I went ahead with Umineko. I’ll go back and finish the Higurashi novels eventually. Actually, I watched both the Higurashi and Umineko anime adaptations before reading either of the novels. In retrospect, I feel that the Higurashi anime worked and the Umineko anime didn’t, largely in part because the second season of the Umineko anime never came out (and probably never will), but also because Umineko is longer, has a much larger cast of characters, and is extremely meta.
If you’re looking to save time, I’d recommend watching the Higurashi animes, then playing the Umineko novels. The main stories in each are completely unrelated, but Umineko occasionally references spoilerish stuff from Higurashi, shares some elements and mechanics (such as 4 question arcs + 4 answer arcs), and has two major characters that are hugely connected to the Higurashi stories.
I’d say, bump them way up your list! They are a hugely different experience compared to your typical galge! No choices and branching routes that have little to do with the main story, yet they do an excellent job in exploring their expansive casts. Especially in Umineko, tons of themes get explored, the scope of the story is ambitious and unlike anything else I’ve seen before, and the soundtrack is hands-down the biggest and the best. This is the true power of doujin artists at work.
How can I not now that you’ve talked them up so much? 😉
I like to bounce between VNs I have high hopes for and ones that i’m not so sure of, so i’ll be making Higurashi/Umineko my next major targets. I’d like to give the Higurashi VN a go, though it’s always possible i’ll revert to anime if I find that I can’t put up with the dated sprites >.<
Just remember, the Higurashi and Umineko novels are unvoiced. The PS graphics patches out there have added the voices to Umineko, but not Higurashi. Though I played the second half of Umineko before the patch was released i.e. unvoiced and with the old sprites, and enjoyed it just fine.
A lot of people say that you can read Umineko before Higurashi if you want, but I strongly disagree. Though the stories are unconnected, they do take place in the same universe, but that’s not the real reason to read Higurashi first. As Higurashi is When They Cry 1/2 and Umineko is When They Cry 3/4, the latter is a natural progression in both Ryukishi07’s writing style and the plot twists that are thrown at you. Several twists in Umineko will leave the reader thinking “huh?” if they haven’t read Higurashi, but “OH GOD WHAT” if they have. It’s hard to describe, but I like Higurashi more than Umineko (by a tiny margin) anyway so you might as well just read both.
Also, (and this is really nothing but my opinion), I’d suggest going with the original artwork for both, and no voices. It’s probably because I first read them that way, but the PS2/PS3ification patches kind of ruin it for me.
I’d rank the Rewrite routes Moon>Lucia>All The Others. I quite liked it overall, though I don’t really disagree with any of your criticism.
Thanks for the comment =) I’ve actually just finished Higurashi and I find myself a little on the fence about what I think of it. On one hand the “woah, what’s going on?!” parts were really well done and enjoyable, but on the other hand I really didn’t like constantly falling back from the good bits into incredibly repetitive slice of life portions. I’ll post a review eventually but for now i’ll go with an “I almost liked it”. However, as you’ve said, Ryukishi07’s writing has progressed over time so I still plan to play Umineko.
I would really like to think that graphics aren’t something that really sway me when it comes to a game with good story but the truth is that i’m not sure I would have finished Higurashi without the sprite patch. The original sprites simply didn’t look nice to me, though I completely understand preferring original work over something that has come in afterwards. Are you able to expand on why you don’t recommend the patches?
Do you mind if I ask which route was your least favorite?
Interestingly, I found the “incredibly repetitive slice of life portions” to be very enjoyable, which is the whole reason I read Rewrite and visual novels like it in the first place. Higurashi was my first visual novel though, which probably has a lot to do with why it’s my favourite. I had a surprising amount of fun with Rewrite’s common route, actually, even though it’s a bit too long, aimless and badly paced. I suppose there’s also the fact that, as a lonely otaku, I’m strongly drawn to depictions of happy days, friendship and romance.
There’s quite a lot I would like to say about Rewrite actually, so I hope you’ll read my review when I get around to it. I have to finish my Ever17 one first though… Bleh.
I think graphics are more important to everyone than we admit. I was never really bothered by Ryukishi07’s art style though. I mean it’s certainly not /good/, but it’s no 2002 ZUN art. Thank god. The only real reason I’m against the sprite patches for Higurashi is that /apparently/ because Matsuri didn’t have Matsuribayashi, there are some missing Hanyu sprites. That said, I don’t know if that’s even true since I’ve never used them. Maybe they could have got them from Kizuna IV or something. Personally I also like the background art style that Ryukishi07 uses more than the drawn backgrounds from Matsuri/Kizuna.
As for Umineko though, there are a few reasons. First, the Umitweak patch converts WTC4 (Eps 5-8) into ADV format, which is incredibly annoying and unnecessary. They didn’t do this with WTC3 (Eps 1-4) though, so BLEH. INCONSISTENCY.
Furthermore (though this may just be me), voices are detrimental to Umineko. There are plenty of action scenes in Umineko (that are absolutely /awesome/ by the way) and adding speech unbearably slows down what is intended to be lightning-fast awesomeness. There are also scenes where the text implies a very unusual voice, but it’s just… voiced normally. And far too often, you’ll get a character’s voice actor laughing, and at the same time ahaha.wav is triggered. This is really irritating. Though you can remove the voices for the WTC3 patch, you can’t for the WTC4 patch because that patch sucks. Also, I still like Ryukishi07’s art…
As for least favourite route of Rewrite… It’s hard to say. I like Kotori’s just because the /idea/ was really great and I wish it was done properly (kind of my attitude to all of Rewrite, really), Chihaya’s was SHOUNEN but kind of enjoyable, Shizuru’s was pretty bad but I still like her, and Akane’s didn’t spend enough time on her and Kotarou but was otherwise really cool. Terra was also a really cool idea, but both it and Moon needed some Ryukishi07 to be truly great. (Seriously just WAIT till you get to the fights in Umineko Chiru.)
Thanks for replying to my comment! I should warn you (and this is from someone who loved Higurashi’s slice of life) Umineko’s pacing in the beginning of Eps 1, 2 and 4 is… ;_; so slow
I actually had to go through my list of watched anime before replying to your comment, since I wasn’t really sure how I felt about slice of life in general. From that small amount of research i’ve determined that pure slice of life just isn’t my thing. I’m happy to follow people just living life around for a little while (not in real life, of course >.>) but before too long I need -something- to happen. Whether that’s romance, comedy, action or horror I don’t really mind. While there were points in both Rewrite and Higurashi that I found heartwarming and/or amusing I guess there just wasn’t enough to keep me entertained during the long common routes/slice of life portions. In Rewrite’s case it may have been my sense of humor that didn’t match up; I can’t quite remember.
I will most definitely read your review and comment when the time comes. I’m more than willing to discuss VNs even if they weren’t my cup of tea. I’ve followed you so I don’t miss out 😉
I can confirm that Hanyu sprites were present in the version I played. If some of the sprite variants were missing though I wouldn’t be able to tell you >..> It’ll be a while before I get to it as i’m giving some attention to the games i’ve neglected recently, but i’ll let you know when I do!
Hanyu sprites are definitely there, since she’s in Minagoroshi and Minagoroshi is in Higurashi Matsuri. From what I can gather from the HigurashiFix Wiki though, her school uniform sprite set doesn’t get PS2ified? It should be in Kizuna though so maybe they did something with that. It’s not really important though.
Incidentally, I’m reading Little Busters at the moment, so my ‘review’ of Rewrite will be in the format of a comparison between the two.
I’m sure we will have more conversation after either you read Umineko (once you start, try to suffer through the first half of Episode 1 as quickly as possible) or I review Rewrite (my Ever17 review is only at 2000 words so far, yaaaay), and I look forward to it. It’s worth keeping in mind a simple mantra as you head into Umineko. “UMINEKO IS NOT HIGURASHI, UMINEKO IS NOT HIGURASHI, UMINEKO IS NOT HIGURASHI.”
It might save your brain from exploding.
You’re right, actually. I think she just wears her shrine maiden outfit for the whole thing.
Ooh, even more interesting. I really enjoyed Little Busters so i’m keen to see when you think of it. Admittedly the individual routes aren’t amazing but in general I preferred them over Rewrite’s.
If you think that’s a good idea I might save Umineko for my next lot of holidays. Eep, 2000 words! I find it difficult to go into that much depth when I review…I try to keep things simple, I guess. Still, if it’s about a visual novel i’m happy to read it, though Ever17 is another VN that I feel is overrated. I’ll wait for your review to talk more about that though.
“Ever17 is another VN that I feel is overrated.”
Heh heh heh. My review is titled “Ever17 is a piece of shit and I hate it (A fair and carefully thought-out critical analysis)”. My feelings toward it are much milder than that though… Still, I can’t recommend it. A good deal of my review is based on the comments I have made over at http://synian.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/ever17-why-it-is-overrated-a-review-and-a-critique
So far I’ve only done Komari’s route of Little Busters, and considering how much my best friend has hyped LB for the last four/five months, I must say I’m a tiny bit disappointed so far. Komari’s route felt to me like a shorter, lamer version of Sachi’s route from Grisaia no Kajitsu. (Yes I know Grisaia was made like 5 years later than LB but shoosh). That said I have no intention of stopping. I just need to find more time.
I also must say that /so far/ I’m enjoying Little Busters less than I did Rewrite. Obviously it’s a completely unfair comparison at this point, and I expect I’ll like Little Busters more by the end, but… I liked Rewrite? Maybe because I was expecting it to be really good while I was reading it, I’m not sure. I also think I’m probably reading another major Key work a bit too soon after the previous one. Well, whatever.
If you’re not into the slice-of-life stuff you’ll probably enjoy Umineko far more than Higurashi overall. I consider them to be equally good, and which one a particular individual will prefer depends on what kind of story interests them. One of the things I liked most about Umineko was how it took 90% of the things that worked in Higurashi and threw them out the window. Unfortunately, some of the “good pacing” also got thrown out, but it’s not really a big problem once you get to the point of no return, wherever that might be for you.
Incidentally, my Skype name is the same as you see here. If you want to chat. No pressure.
Lucia’s and Akane’s routes were also my favorites, with the latter being my overall favorite girl. I was one of the rare people who was actually satisfied with Terra, but I agree that the tone-shifting took way too long to work. I did like the last few routes, which are apparently like a watered-down version of one of the main writer’s other works so I assume whatever they tried to do will be better done there. I didn’t care for the True heroine much, either.
Akane was a little too cold for my liking, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I dislike her.
I think that Key made a very odd choice in including the Terra route. Trying to bring what had until then only been side characters into the spotlight was, in my opinion, not a good move for what was to be the final route tying everything together. However, I admit that my dislike of the other routes may have colored how I felt about the final 2.
Just to clarify about Kotori (who I assume is what you mean by the true heroine), I think there was a lot of potential in her route that was wasted. I would have loved to know more about her backstory and see more of a relationship between her and the MC. As it was, her route was simply frustrating.
Have you played Harvest Festa? I’m on the fence about playing it once it’s been translated.
Harvest Festa is a fluffy fandisc that doesn’t add too much to the plate, although it does give Kotori a romantic epilogue so there’s that. Don’t expect it to wrap up any serious plot points though, half the routes in there are AU.
I have played only a few minutes, so I can’t really give an overall impression since I don’t really have time to play visual novels like I did in the past. Judging from this, I think most of the difference is because Jun Maeda’s retirement after finishing Little Busters visual novel and this is probably the first visual novel that got a different writer.
But hopefully someday, I’ll find the time to play it and probably play it on a Surface Pro 2 for the fun of it. Still, I have Kanon and Clannad to finish, so it will be tough what I want to finish first.
Apparently the lead scenario writer also wrote Cross Channel, which I haven’t yet played, so i’ll be interested to see how similar it is to Rewrite in terms of writing style. It’s a shame that Maeda isn’t writing any more, but at least they still have him working on the soundtrack.
I found Kanon and Clannad very similar. Both were good but not amazing, though Clannad was recognizably better in my opinion. If you enjoy Clannad I would very much recommend playing Tomoyo After which is like an alternate ending.
“falls short in its creative department, mostly due to an inconsistent tone and variable story quality”
“a mixture of poor pacing, average writing and jarring changes in tone make Rewrite much less than it could have been.”
These are good critiques.
Complaining about the lack of romance (which is not at all the point here) and claiming that it’s bad because it didn’t give you the feels are not.
Also, this is going to be petty, but saying that “the Terra route is a little odd in that, while being the finale of the entire Visual Novel, it doesn’t feature any of the main heroines in any meaningful way. Instead it focuses on many of the side characters introduced throughout Rewrite” as though it’s something inherently negative is ridiculous given that this kind of presentation is arguably the point of Terra. It’s all about wrapping everything up and fixing the lives of the heroines before things manage to go as terribly wrong for them as they originally ended up doing, which necessitates them being children… If you want a true route with the heroines, that’s Moon, which functions as the real “grand finale of the game anyway.
You’re making the same mistake a lot of other people do by focusing on the heroine romance (or, rather, lack thereof) and pretending as though this is the most important thing in the game.
Please stop doing this.
Er…i’ve just read what i’ve written here and it sounds a little confrontational, which I didn’t intend. Thank you for taking the time to comment; i’ve enjoyed attempting to explain myself and elaborate on what i’ve said in the review. I’d also be very happy to know if there’s anything I should clarify further.
I’m not complaining about a lack of romance; a visual novel without romance would have been fine. What I take issue with is that Rewrite attempted to include romantic relationships but failed to do so in a meaningful way. In every route Kotarou confesses to that routes respective heroine. The problem lies in the fact that, in most of the routes, after that confession and its response there is very little acknowledgement of the relationship’s existence beyond a token “I love you” every now and then. It’s almost as if those aspects were only included because that’s what people expect for a heroine’s route in a Key visual novel. I don’t mind whether or not romance is included, but there has to be more than a cursory amount of effort put into it. It’s been a while since i’ve played Rewrite now (though I wrote this review straight after finishing it), so specific examples are beyond me and I apologize for that.
While you’ve linked “feels” to the romantic aspects, I should also point out that I don’t mind whether they’re included or not either. In fact, there were a few emotional scenes in Rewrite that were done well. What annoyed me, however, were that a number of opportunities to explore potential high emotional impact plotlines were overlooked despite having had the groundwork lain for them. This is most notably seen in Kotori’s route.
The Terra route is…an enigma to me. While I appreciate that the route’s existence and aim are not inherently bad I just question the suitability of its inclusion in a medium where much of the reader’s enjoyment can stem from their connection to the various characters involved. Imagine a book where the final 10 chapters were spent discussing the adventures of what had only been minor characters until that point. Perhaps it would work as a separate fan disk (much like the Houzuki in Sharin no Kuni, Yuukyuu no Shounenshoujo) but in Rewrite it is presented as the final route and, to my mind at least, doesn’t work because of that. It almost denies a sense of closure because, after the Moon route, I was expecting to see a resolution involving the characters I had grown to know and was disappointed.
To address that final point, I do not believe that romance is the most important part of Rewrite. Because of how it was handled it simply can’t be, so it was only a minor factor in my score. The main determinants of how I felt about Rewrite were the delivery of the plot and the writing itself. While I still find it hard to explain, the core idea is in my statement that “Rewrite attempts to tell a story using ideas, as opposed to atmosphere“. It’s no good to tell me that “there is a man” and “he has a powerful aura” and “his movements are cool” (not intended to be an example from Rewrite); you have to make me feel those things myself via the descriptions you employ, as well as the sprites/CGs and background music you use in a visual novel’s case. To me, Rewrite did more of the former than the latter. I may have only played 47 visual novels (according to my VNDB, anyway), but it still means something when I say that no other visual novel i’ve read has done that to the degree that Rewrite did. Or, if they did, i’m more than willing to admit that I may have overlooked it because I didn’t know any better at the time.
You already played 47 VNs? Man, you’re steadily exceeding my VN progress, actually, I think you already did.. Dx Feeling nostalgic of the days during our FB chats when you just barely knew anything about them D:
Probably a few more that i’ve dropped or forgotten to put on VNDB. At the start of last year when I first discovered them I was spending practically all day every day motoring through them; I remember you remarking on how quickly I got through them and that was why XD The ones on your list of top ten were pretty much how I chose the first ones I played.
Yes, the romantic aspects were only included because this is a KEY galge and that’s what people expect, but why is it so bad that they’re less important? In every route but Lucia’s, the romance takes a backseat since in most cases, other things are going on.
I don’t understand how this could be considered such a problem; why not rate the game on what it actually does, rather than what you think it should be doing? Just because a VN has romance doesn’t necessitate it being “meaningful”, although in my opinion Kotori’s and Akane’s routes manage that, so…
In regards to emotionality, I think that Rewrite is an extremely emotional game, but only if you actually think about what’s being presented to you rather than expecting it to constantly pull events that trigger the waterworks, like most other KEY games do, and to that I end I thought the epilogue of the Terra route was fantastic and gave the heroines precisely the closure I felt they needed.
I think it helps a bit to think of Terra as a separate game entirely, though. I know people who changed their minds about it after considering it as such.
Finally… when you say Rewrite uses “storytelling through ideas rather than atmosphere”, you’re identifying two things: one, that Rewrite, as stated, requires you to actually think through the ideas it presents in order to really get into the narrative, and two, that Yuuto Tonokawa’s routes (Chihaya and Shizuru) are poorly written and fail to show, rather than tell… but that isn’t something that’s present in the rest of the game, so I have no idea what you’re on about?
I don’t think it’s that the romance is considered unimportant as much as that it’s poorly done. At the time I played I remember thinking that the characters were saying that they loved the other person but that feeling never went farther than their words; the way they acted around that person never changed in a significant way. I think it was done best in Lucia and Akane’s routes.
I think you’re right in saying that Terra should be considered a different game; if I had gone into it thinking about it that way I think I would have enjoyed it more, although if I had thought about it that way i’m not sure I would have played it in the first place given how i’d felt about Rewrite so far.
I also agree that Chihaya and Shizuru’s routes are the worst offenders when it comes to the reasons I had mentioned earlier, though I felt that the Common and Moon routes had that problem as well, which is the main reason I didn’t score those routes as high as they could have been. The other routes did not have that problem, as you have said, so they weren’t judged with that in mind. Kotori’s route was given its score because of its abrupt ending and lack of closure concerning the state of the world and her relationship with Kotarou. Terra was given its score because I felt that it was misplaced; as you have said it is better considered as a separate game but that is not how Rewrite presented it. Lucia and Akane were both given higher scores because they had more interesting stories that were played out to their fullest (or at least to a significant degree).
This is… disappointing to read. I still want to give this VN a shot at some point, but it just fell a lot lower on the priority list.
While i’m glad you trust my opinion, please check out some other reviews before you make a decision as the majority of them are positive. I personally did not enjoy Rewrite for the reasons mentioned above but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t 😉
If you do play it i’ll be very interested to hear what you think!
Oh I still plan to read Rewrite eventually, just I suspect I will have some of the same issues you had with it and my motivation has gone down a bit. I was considering reading it soonish, but now I’m thinking there are many other VNs I want to read before I get to this one.
Have you read Muv-Luv? I’m really getting into the 3rd part of it…going to work and leaving it behind is like torture, and i’m not even usually into mechs.
If you’re looking for something to play I would highly recommend it, though the first two parts pale in comparison to the third.
I tried to get that working maybe 6 months or so ago and I couldn’t get it to run properly on my PC. I’ve heard from several people that it’s pretty great so I definetly want to read that. I have setup a Japanese virtual windows xp machine since then so I could probably play it that way.
Next up on my hit list will probably be Ef The Later Tale. I think that comes out right around or maybe even on Christmas and I’ve been dying to play both halves all at once. I’ll see if I can’t get Muv Luv to work after that.
I loved Hoshizora no Memoria by the way. So many great characters and awesome dialog. Yume was my favorite part easily, but the whole thing was pretty great. I should have a blog up for it sometime soon. Trying to write about it between getting ready for the new anime season and writing up end of the year stuff.
I didn’t have too much trouble setting it up and i’m on Windows 7. The only issue i’ve had is that Muv Luv Alternative’s resolution doesn’t mesh well with my laptop’s so I can’t play it with true full screen.
The releases i’m really keen to get my hands on are D2B Vs. Deardrops and Chou Dengeki Stryker, though I don’t know when they’re coming out. I’ve already played the fan-translated version of Ef so I don’t really have to wait for that and I didn’t enjoy it enough to buy it.
I agree that Yume’s route was the best route, though Asuho was probably my favorite character. The fandisk translation is still progressing so i’m looking forward to seeing that completed ^_^ I look forward to seeing what you say about the original.
So you had already started reading Muv-luv.. Both the Muv-luv games are still sitting in my computer waiting to be played D:
Yume’s route is indeed the best, but my favorite character is still Mare – awesome witty loli xD Her route is disappointing though, then again, it’s more of a bonus route. Second favorite would be Komomo.
I did like Mare but I think she was just a bit too Tsun for me. She had a cool scythe though 😉
I got some problems with Muv-luv installations too but I managed to get it to work. For some weird reasons, using my own image mounting tools doesn’t work, I had to use the ones that came together with the download – Daemon. As if messing with me, the Daemon version that came with the download doesn’t support my OS and I had to specially get another one. Not sure why you had to specially use Daemon, there may be something I had missed out during my installations, but well, I get to work in the end still. (FYI, I got it from fuwanovel)
Rather, instead of Muv-luv, there’s one other VN I had been meaning to play but I just can’t get it to work – Eien no Aselia, which I had already attempted a number of times with several months breaks in between. I’m thinking of just getting a new download at this point instead of using the existing one. Does fuwanovel has this VN?
Muv-Luv is practically my life right now =P It’s probably going to replace G-Senjou no Maou as my favorite VN, so even if you don’t think you’re going to like it because of the first rom-com part I would advise you to keep giving it a go. The last portion is ridiculously long and amazingly entertaining the whole way through. I personally use Daemon Tools Lite for all of my mounting needs.
Fuwanovel doesn’t have Aselia, but you should try the Erogedownload copy. I’ve never had any problems with them. I really enjoyed Eien no Aselia as soon as I got used to the gameplay (which isn’t too straightforward – let me know when you start playing it and i’ll give you some tips).
Well, this dude might not have liked it, but I finished it 100% and I can tell you that it is the best story that I have ever faced, my overall score would be 10/10, so you should put it back up at that priority list of yours 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it =) Do you mind if I ask which route was your favorite?
I have a really high preferences to Rewrite – I’m actually even willing to say biased here. All the problems you mentioned here make sense, especially for the romance. I couldn’t really feel the romance actually blooming between the heroines and Koutarou, perhaps with the exception of Lucia and Akane.
As for the pacing, I’ll agree that it’s definitely not consistent – some parts are indeed draggy, like the common route (but I don’t feel it just as bad, perhaps I’m used to such dragginess?). And throughout the common route, I could certainly feel the foreshadowing. While lengthy, the “mysterious” parts of the VN are placed just at the right spots to develop the more mystery and the foreshadowing. It’s also noteworthy to mention here is that I actually marathon the VN, not sure what would happen here if you went for long breaks in between. Actually, now that when I think about it, I think “pacing” and the “rate of your playthrough” goes hand-in-hand, reviewing about pacing is too much of a subjective thing here, hmm.. I think I just found a new thing to post about…
Back to the VN, I think it’s also important to think just what are each routes aiming for instead of thinking what should had been done about it. I kept saying “Kotori’s route is a good introduction to the series”, and as such, the route did a fine job with it, although it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still down in my routes preference of Rewrite. Chihaya’s route goes with just a little bit more detail on the Guardian side, though the conclusion of it’s execution is not the least bit stellar I admit – it’s more akin to a shounen, lol. Shizuru’s route in comparison, provide a bit more insight on the Gaia’s side and the route’s definitely an improvement on the previous two. I played Rewrite in that very same order and after all that, I played Lucia. Lucia’s route to me, is a bit too unorthodox, as expected of Ryukishi07 who wrote Higurashi/Umineko I should say. Lucia’s route doesn’t connect much to the central plot but I rather like it, no, I love it, much to it is contributed to the excellent writing in Lucia’s character. Now after I played all that, I played Akane’s route the least, and that’s definitely my favorite route (second comes Lucia), it steadily piled up all the plot elements build up from the previous routes (Kotori’s intodoctory route, Chihaya’s Guardian introductory route and Shizuru’s Gaia introductory route) and combine them all in this route. A lot more insights to Rewrite’s world were detailed, and incredibly emotional writing. Additionally, a lot more things actually happened here, a number of them incredibly fast-paced too – exciting and engaging. I love the action scenes here, especially.
About your comment on Terra focusing on other side characters, I actually think that’s a great direction. It gives the VN that “complete” feeling by exposing even it’s side characters to the front lines. However, even though I said “focus on side characters”, the whole script of Terra is more of a self-exposure on Koutarou as a character, not the many side characters nor the heroines themselves. Aforementioned, I think it’s important to see the “aim” of each of Rewrite’s routes and this “aim” of Terra’s route is something that should be taken into account. It’s been a while since I last played Rewrite so I can’t really remember, but I think there are some loopholes left behind even after Terra tying over everything, and if there’s flaws, it’s that, but nonetheless, I like it a lot still. In fact, I like Rewrite so much that I’m willing to overlook just about any flaws in the VN.
Indeed, like I said, I guess I’m just biased *proud*
I played Rewrite over a very long period of time, to the point where I was practically forcing myself to start it up each night. While that may have had something to do with the pacing for me I don’t think I could have marathoned it >.< However, regardless of any subjective views of the pacing I think that the common route is objectively too long for the heroine routes. As you say, there are supernatural scenes at regular intervals but for me they didn't do the trick.
I played the routes in the same order you did and see what you mean about what the routes are aiming for. However, most of the routes themselves simply weren't entertaining for me, so it didn't matter that they were building up for the later routes in this case. By the time I made it to Lucia and Akane's route i'd already had to slog through the common and 3 heroine routes that I didn't enjoy. I agree that those last two heroine routes are the best, though. Rewrite's action never did much for me. I think the style they were written in may have been the problem. The scenes I enjoyed most were the non-action-y ones to tell the truth.
I also get what Terra was trying to do, but the fact that the story changed to focus on side characters when I didn't even care about many of the main ones meant that it would have been very hard for me to enjoy that route anyway. To me it felt like it had moved away from what the visual novel had been focusing on till then.
However, most people view Rewrite the way you do and it's always important to be proud of how you feel about something. There isn't a right or wrong opinion about Rewrite; it's just something we feel differently about.
I played a few hours a day over the last month, just finished the entire thing a few minutes, ago, came looking for discussion and found this instead. I do agree with plenty that was said but I like to keep things simple. Rewrite had plenty of happy/funny ‘shit’ that I thoroughly and enjoyed and the action was great. Lucia’s route had some decent level of romance but not as much as I would have liked, that is probably what I am most disappointed about. I’d prefer happy endings to each of the 5 heroine routes rather than the end of the world stuff with Terra and Moon.
Thanks for taking the time to comment =) I think if you enjoy Rewrite’s brand of comedy and action (which is definitely possible, just not for me) then it would be a really good experience, and it sounds like that’s what you had. Since you’ve touched on the romance in Lucia’s route, what did you think of it in all of the other routes? As i’ve said in other comments I don’t care whether there’s romance or not, but if there is romance then it has to be done well and Rewrite just doesn’t deliver in that aspect.
While many may not, I agree with you on the 5 heroine routes thing. Terra and Moon didn’t do much for me so having more complete heroine routes instead of the “tie it all together” routes might have dealt with some of the complaints I had. Come to think of it, I would say that Lucia and Akane’s routes are the most “complete”, which may be why I liked them the most.
Oh well that just prove that I am an easy to please guy. I don’t even see that much difference with the proportion of the character sprite but I do see some in the CG and basicaly I dont care about what you listed, maybe because I never see problem with japanese stuff, lol. Until now few thing have displease me If i had to rated the 3 route I already did (kotori, chihaya and lucia) I would rate them all more then 7/10. But honestly I feel like im just blind or ignorant can you show me exemple of why you didn’t like kotori and chihaya and the common route?
I don’t think it’s to do with how easy you are to please as how different your taste is. Lots and lots of people really enjoyed Rewrite so you are most definitely not alone.
The common route was simply too long for the amount of plot that was allocated to it. It also didn’t help that much of the humor wasn’t my sort of thing either.
Kotori’s route for me was unfinished. It had a really long build up (especially when you consider the common route), then threw a whole bunch of new stuff at you in a very short amount of time before finishing without resolving anything. It had the beginnings of a decent route but ended prematurely in my opinion.
I personally found Chihaya’s route to be poorly written. There was a lot of “Ooh, look at this! It’s really cool!” type stuff that didn’t really contribute to the route as a whole. It’s probably the route that’s most influenced by the reader’s taste.
But again, no one person’s taste is better or worse than anyone else’s. Some people like Rewrite and some people don’t. I just happen to be one of the latter.
Wow, I… actually completely disagree with your review.
I’m not sure how well I can argue against some of your technical complaints (I read all of Rewrite in the course of a couple weeks, so it all kind of flows together), but as with much of ancient literature I think that it’s strengths are in its themes and overall composition (meta-narrative vs. individual narrative).
Treated as an average visual novel, I suppose I can understand your reactions to it. However, treating it FIRST as a story, and then SECOND as an item of the medium through which it was conveyed, it is an absolute masterpiece that ignores conventions in favor of the spiritual and the moral. Just as many items of brilliant piece of classic literature, movies, or television can be slow and even boring to the average viewer, they communicate much more than what is readily apparent.
If Moon and Terra did not exist, I think your review would hold full credibility, but Moon and Terra
show the true intentions of the VN, which go far beyond the “average visual novel” I mentioned in the previous paragraph. The themes and scope are far grander than the individual routes convey, and form together for something greater than the sum of its parts.
For this reason, Rewrite is easily my favorite visual novel, and one of my favorite pieces of writing. However, if you’re in the story for reasons other than I mentioned, or place short-term enjoyment over long-term fulfillment, I can understand why someone might not like it (I would say the same thing about anime like Serial Experiments Lain).
Kaze and I are actually working on a joint-piece at Beneath the Tangles right now that dives into some of the themes that make it unique and, I would claim, spectacular. There are many individual spiritual themes, to be sure, but even some composition-based ones that reflect ancient and classic literature like the Bible (such as the Old Testament to New Testament shift of the literal to the symbolic shown from the main routes to Moon).
Of course, now I’m showing my bias. I suppose I’ll just have to go find a corner and pout in it while reflecting on the fact that some people don’t agree with me.
Disagreement is absolute fine =P I know that feeling of wanting to find one of those corners though, especially on this review!
If you’d been able to argue against those complaints I wouldn’t have been able to respond anyway given how long it’s been, so I won’t hold that against you. From looking at your comment it seems that we find entertainment in visual novels in slightly different ways, but i’ll do my best to respond to what you’ve written.
I should probably start by saying that I do not particularly enjoy many older works of literature, or even the movies you refer to, which probably immediately identifies a difference in our thought patterns. Having said that, I -do- think that fictional media have the potential to share important themes and messages that transcend the explicit story that they tell. For me at least the only way that a title can do that is by first being entertaining and then by working that message into its story without allowing that theme to dictate its course; whatever it is, it needs to engage me before it can make its messages connect with me. The existence of the message itself is not enough for me, though once i’m interested in what’s going on the themes and the ways they are portrayed can definitely improve the experience.
The issue then is that I didn’t enjoy Rewrite as a story. Perhaps its concept could have been fantastic if it had been delivered in another way but it wasn’t. Similarly, the Moon and Terra arc didn’t speak to me in the same way it seems that they did to you, meaning that Rewrite wasn’t pulled together like you’ve described.
Unfortunately, it then comes back to the idea that we’re discussing this from entirely different viewpoints. While I don’t actively search for fulfillment in my entertainment (which sounds incredibly shallow, even to me, but bear with me for a moment) I would argue that that doesn’t mean that I don’t find it, just that discovering those messages, themes or ideas alone does not constitute entertainment for me. I can still look back on an experience that I enjoyed and identify the reasons I enjoyed it, the feelings it gave me and the lessons I learnt from it. Perhaps i’m one of those average viewers, but I place entertainment first and consider anything else icing on the cake. Still, once the foundation is in place then nearly every deeper title will be better than every shallower one. Rewrite just didn’t have that foundation for me.
At the end of the day, though, whatever any individual finds in a story is worthwhile as an opinion. If you enjoyed Rewrite and found greater meaning in it then that’s fantastic. I mean, that’s however many more hours of life you enjoyed that I didn’t (and it doesn’t take too much to see who comes out on top in that equation).
Well said. I still disagree with you, and probably always will, but as you said, that’s fine.
I think the issue is as you described: the differing perspectives from which we consumed the same media. Much of Key’s work is susceptible to the same issue that caused our differences here: a grand overarching theme with rather average stories that lead up to it (Little Busters is especially guilty of this!). While I still think Rewrite was leaps and bounds better than Clannad and Little Busters in at least offering better storytelling leading up to the grand finale, I would have to admit that I obtain much of my personal enjoyment from putting together all of the subtle developments of alternate timelines (exclusive to visual novels as a medium) and putting them together for something that, to use your word, “transcends” it all.
I still think that Moon and Terra are the key to the entire story. Considering Rewrite without them is like removing the New Testament from the Bible: you completely change religions. But again, that seems to stem back to our wildly different motivations for reading the same story.
Anyway, I still completely disagree with your opinion of Rewrite, but I respect you for intelligently and respectfully sharing your views on it!
I agree with you. Rewrite is the only visual novel that hooked me enough to finish all routes, I just had to get to Moon and Terra, very glad I did.
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