In the otome & visual novel genres, there’s countless examples of a story taking place in or after high school. Bad Apple Wars turns this expectation on its head, with a school that takes place after someone dies. So how does this premise hold up over the first and subsequent playthroughs that are common for otome games?
You play as Rinka, a typical high school girl. She’s on her way to a new high school, when suddenly a truck hits and kills her. She awakens in front of a high school — but this school is quite different than the one she was traveling to. Its name is NEVAH Academy, where the instructors wear outlandish, masked costumes.
Students are expected to be mindless drones, as to “graduate” from this school, you have to follow their nigh-impossible rules and eventually lose your own sense of self to become another mindless student drone. This is because those who died early-on, such as is the case with Rinka, are given a second chance at life if they behave like a good little “apple” and thus “graduate”. Of course, there’s students in NEVAH Academy who don’t wish to lose their sense of self and thus are labelled “Bad Apples” by the school’s headmaster. To be expelled requires finding and eating the forbidden apple, but the catch is that none of students have ever seen it in person.
Like most visual novels, especially otome games, the focus is on the narrative and includes very little gameplay-type elements. You have a select number of scenes in which you can interact by making choices, which in Bad Apple Wars, besides the usual dialogue choices, includes Rinka’s ability to see one’s memories and thoughts by touching them. This ability uses the Vita’s touch screen as you need to tap the screen to initiate it.
Similar to other visual novel & otome games, you have the ability to skip past text you’ve already seen in a prior playthrough. Additionally, you can have the game auto-progress instead of clicking the X button after each dialogue. While this combination of mechanics makes for getting all of the endings and routes completed, it does highlight a particular issue some may have with the game.
As one would expect from an otome game, there’s a selection of male characters Rinka can eventually become a love interest with. The issue is that each character feels very familiar in how the plot plays out, at times even forced awkwardly just for the sake of a romantic ending. Instead of each male character feeling unique from one another, it’s akin to a “spin the wheel” situation. This expands to the extra characters thrown in when necessary, as they’re just there to further the narrative and most you never encounter again after seeing them for the first time.
All in all, it's a bit disappointing that the characters are so underdeveloped, as the story in general is executed nicely and is quite different from your typical otome game. It’s worth an initial playthrough for that aspect, but as you play through more routes the seams begin to break. If that’s a deal-breaker will depend on the person.Bad Apple Wars was reviewed using a PS Vita Digital Copy provided by Idea Factory. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
|The premise is quite different from your usual otome/visual novel.|
|The core narrative is well-done.|
|After the first playthrough, you'll notice the re-use of narrative aspects which dampens the experience, considering the narrative.|