Aksys has been releasing an Otome (targeted at a female audience) visual novel every few months this year. Bad Apple Wars is the third of Otomate’s visual novels that Aksys Games has localized. As with Period Cube and Collar X Malice, Bad Apple Wars tries to do things differently. The developers have done a good amount of work to make this feel different both in the way choices are made and in story progression.
You play as a highschool girl with the default name of Rinka. On your way to the first day of school, you get run over on the road and basically die. This is quite the opening. You then wake up in an otherworld in front of another school where you meet someone wearing a bunny mask that would not look out of place in Hotline Miami. Thus begins Rinka’s tale that will see multiple endings, multiple love interests, tons of character development, and a plot that will feel right at home to Angel Beats! anime fans. If you’ve ever wanted to play an otome game and love Angel Beats!, this is the game for you. There are loads of parallels with the world having a high school, a focus on the resistance trying to break the rules, and of course “graduating”. There are also tons of references to things like the seven deadly sins, the apple of eden (forbidden apple?), and the name of the school, NEVAEH, which is HEAVEN backwards. The two warring sides in this academy are the disciplinary committee and the bad apples.
After you pick a side at the start of the game, you can basically set the game options to auto pilot and relax and read through the very nice story. This carries over to all the endings with each love interest. Instead of having the usual choices in a visual novel during dialogue, there’s a map system where you get to select your next location and a touch system. In the map choice, each location is indicated with a colour letting you know who will be there. The touch system has you touching your love interest in a CGI scene. Touching in the correct location will result in backstory and progress but the wrong one might lock you into a bad ending later on. I will commend Otomate for trying to keep things fresh with each of their visual novels.
At first the character art felt a little off to me. After a bit of playing it made sense. The interaction between the environment, generous use of red through the UI, are very well done. The interface is smooth and you can touch to navigate and progress dialogue which is one of the most important things I look for in a visual novel. The big complaint I have with Bad Apple Wars is actually not related to the story at all. It is the font used in the localized release from Aksys. I don’t know why the developers decided to go with a font that is hard to read when a visual novel is all about reading. It is just a terrible design choice in an otherwise well thought out experience.
If you ever wanted to listen to a modern Shoji Meguro (Persona) and Masafumi Takada (Danganronpa, Digimon Story) mashup track or collaboration, the soundtrack here will be exactly what you’ve been craving. It is brilliant. The Japanese website has background music playing and I recommend checking out the first track here. Voice acting is memorable and it is all in Japanese as expected in an otome game.
I’d say Collar x Malice has the slight edge over this release in terms of story and theme, but for everything else they both are an even match and absolutely worth playing for fans of visual
novels not just otome game fans. I’m glad more games like this are getting localized because for visual novels, importing isn’t an option without Japanese knowledge. I just wish the damn text font wasn’t this bad.
Lovely unique art style
Excellent voice acting
Some characters could be developed better