Raging Loop is a horror themed visual novel game. While many visual novels are passive experiences, Raging Loop gives you some choices through the course of the game which affect the outcome. It feels a bit like the “choose your own adventure” books I used to read as a youth. However the story of Raging Loop is definitely for mature audiences.
In Raging Loop, Haruaki Fusaishi is a young man freshly arrived to Yasumizu, a remote settlement in a mountainous region of Japan. He becomes involved in an ominous local tradition known as the feast. When the mists arrive in the remote village, closing them off from the outside world, some of the villagers are replaced with wolves who hide as other villagers. These wolves are sent to kill the humans, and the humans must weed out and kill the wolf before it’s too late.
The plot is a bit more complex then that, but I’m not going to spoil the plot. The story is very much a mystery where the protagonist must uncover the truth and save the lives of himself and others. The one kicker however is that if Haruaki dies he ends up mysteriously looping back to the beginning to do it all over again in an attempt to survive.
The visual novel has a complex branching story. In the beginning many times when you are given an opportunity to make a choice, the other choices are locked. It’s only when you end up dying as a result of the forced choice that you are given a key which allows you the chance to unlock another path. The different paths can cause many other changes to the story as well and result in new keys.
As a neat example of this, when you play through the story the first time you crash your motorcycle and end up arriving at the town in the middle of the night. The first time through you don’t get to participate in the actual feast (you do get to see the feast as the reader) but learn about the goings on from some of the villagers. By the time you get to the end of the initial story you learn the true identities of the wolves. But when you loop back and enter the village from another route, circumstances and the roles of the wolves have changed.
It’s actually pretty interesting and is a great read. I got sucked in.
The only difficulty I had was something of a localization issue. As with most visual novels all of the names are in Japanese. While not a big deal at all, with the large number of characters in Raging Loop the names got a bit confusing. Some of the names were similar. With some of the honorifics, some characters referred to each other by first name while others were more formal and used the family name of the person. To make things more confusing, some characters called others with nicknames or shortened names.
It wasn’t a big thing, but sometimes got confusing and when I had to make a choice about a specific character I had to really think about who I was choosing.
Raging Loop feels very much like a whodunit on the surface. But as the story progresses and Haruaki continues to loop back a few times, the bigger picture starts to come into focus and it becomes more than a game of trial and error. Each choice made leads you to gain insights into each of the other characters more and more, which really gives you an attachment to them. Their deaths start to have more meaning each time and you as the reader feel just as invested in the truch as Haruaki himself.
The music in the game is also fantastic. It is intense at times and somber at others, while at just the right moments it can be downright creepy.
Raging Loop is a great read and was definitely worth the time invested in its story.