After all, it is normal not to constantly think about death, I dare say more than healthy, but sooner or later we all realize how fragile and ephemeral life is, and that thought remains in the depths of our minds like an itch in the middle of the back that we can't ignore.
… Ok, I didn't want to make you come to the Magone, but this uncomfortable premise is the core of the experience that Bad Apple Wars offers us, slamming in our faces with sinister cynicism a reality that we would prefer to ignore. All this happens between the lines of a visual novel, because if there is one thing that this type of game can do really well, it is certainly telling a story in an effective way, giving a lot of space for interpretation and reflection, perhaps even allowing the players to influence the development of the plot with some choices. The title of Otomate will he be able to communicate his message by plucking the right strings? Unfortunately, not always: let's find out why.
For Rinka, our protagonist, death has the appearance of a car that overwhelms her as she crosses the street to go to school. For her it should have been the first day of high school, a change in her monotonous life, and by turns her routine will be broken anyway: after waking up in confusion and dismay, a bizarre individual in a rabbit mask will give her welcome to NEVAEH Academy, a strange institution built under a red-tinged sky where Rinka will be able to change her destiny and be reborn again. This, however, only if he decides to follow the strict rules of the school to the letter, homologating to all the other students, whose face is covered by masks that are all the same.
Yet there is an alternative, and it is presented to her during the ceremony at the beginning of the year: a group of rebels, called "Bad Apples" from the handful of teachers and the principal, he bursts into the gymnasium with an explosion and tries to open the eyes of the newcomers still shocked by what he has learned about his own death. It will be up to us, therefore, to decide whether to join the Disciplinary Committee and be reborn at the price of completely losing our identity or siding with the "bad guys", looking for an alternative to this colorless life by rebelling against a cold and repressive institution.
An interesting opening which, in addition to easily capturing your attention, winks at a famous anime like Angel Beats. In the first few hours of the game, Bad Apple Wars will keep you glued to the small PS Vita screen without too many problems… but will it keep the interest alive until the end? This is where the first flaws arise.
Suspension of judgment
Our school life will be anything but simple within the NEVAEH Academy, regardless of the path you choose shortly after being admitted to the institute. To worsen the situation, both as regards the development of the plot and for us players, there is the character of our heroine: Rinka is a rather passive character, often complains about his way of being without then trying to do something to improve his condition, and for this reason it could be a rather insipid protagonist in the eyes of many. However, the Otome nature of the title tries to provide a solution to this lack of personality by inserting the possibility of developing a relationship with the main male characters of the game which, of course, change depending on the chosen faction. We will be incentivized to forge a strong bond with them from the function Soul Touch that will allow us to explore in the mind of our beloved, deepening more and more the relationship of trust between us and them that will reach its peak in a scene of metaphorical intimacy that does not lead to self and will make us smile.
Despite this, unfortunately, Bad Apple Wars has a big flaw that we absolutely cannot ignore: although there are choices, they are few, obvious and do not have a decisive impact on the development of the plot who, focusing more on the boy we have chosen by our side, will continue on his own path without too many differences between one ending and another. Apart from some more information on each character and a few small variations on the theme, you won't find many reasons to play this title again because you will probably not feel the need and, by now, there will be no more surprise. If you would like to venture back into the corridors of the school you can start over from any previously encountered chapter or checkpoint, avoiding having to retrace every single event from the beginning and saving a lot of time. Small consolation!
If this title has some shortcomings from a narrative point of view, it is unassailable from an artistic point of view. The soundtrack of the game is well made and fits perfectly with any context, although no track is memorable at the end of the fair, and as regards the dubbing in the original language, an impeccable job was done by the actors, able to interpret everyone. the dialogues with the right amount of emotion. The graphic sector of Bad Apple Wars, completely entrusted to the illustrator Suou, is accurate and coherent, characterized by an effective and interesting character design: the artworks made with skill and never banal, which can also be explored by touching the PS Vita touch screen, are perhaps the main value of the game, and the backgrounds perfectly make the atmosphere dreamlike and disturbing that fills the corridors of the institute.
The only artistic defect found in this title concerns the dialogues, a decidedly important element in a Visual Novel: the writing is sometimes inconsistent, since seven different writers worked on this game, so it often happens that the style and quality of the lyrics suddenly change over the course of a scene. Ultimately, the style of Bad Apple Wars will fill part of the void left by the narrative, sweetening that glass that could be a bit bitter for a good slice of inexperienced users or not passionate about the genre.