Has another month passed? It has? Looks like it’s time for another otome game review, then! Yes, it’s my destiny to play every single one of these and I’ll be damned if I don’t do exactly that. This time we’re taking a look at Bad Apple Wars, which calls to mind the “crazy high school meets escape room meets mystery” pseudo-genre popularized by the Danganronpa series. If you’ve cleaned up Hakuoki and Collar X Malice and you’re after another otome adventure, here you go.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: our heroine, Rinka, is dead! It turns out that, as tends to happen in this sort of story, the afterlife isn’t really all it’s cut out to be; she’s in a school called NEVAEH and getting out quickly becomes a high priority, given how the students act like zombies, the teachers are masked nuts and anyone who doesn’t follow the many, many rules is branded a “Bad Apple.” Bad Apples don’t get to graduate from NEVAEH, and graduation means a chance to try living again, but is it worth giving up your principles and self? The Bad Apples certainly don’t think so. They’ve got other ideas, and maybe Rinka can join them.
As mentioned, this is an otome game! That means, in an incredibly reductive sense, that it’s basically a romance novel translated into visual novel form, and there’s not a whole lot else to say about it with regards to gameplay; the very few choices this game has are front-loaded and otherwise it plays out as a kinetic novel where you sit back and enjoy the ride, with the odd exception here and there as Rinka touches people to absorb their memories. That’s played out largely as you’d expect, by the way.
As this is a visual novel it’s expected that the focus here is all on the presentation: there’s some great anime-styled art to check out, in particular, and the character designs are interesting enough to keep the game feeling lively. There are several routes to check out (again, you choose which one you’d like to follow early on and that’s the majority of your input) but they don’t vary much and boil down largely to which character you’d like Rinka to end up with. Par for the course, in other words, though there’s something to be said for VNs that shake things up a little bit more to add content and encourage replay.
Bad Apple Wars will probably be your thing if you’re after the classic otome experience, particularly if you’re also a Danganronpa fan as the two have several stylistic and conceptual similarities. You’ll probably only want to bother clearing this one once and for the price it’s worth that much. The continuing trend of otome games making their way to the West doesn’t seem to be concluding anytime soon; in particular, visual novels and otome in particular appear to be the lifeline that’s keeping the PS Vita alive so long after its official discontinuation.