Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne is an original story supervised by the series author and brings familiar characters back, along with a few new ones. While described as a tactical adventure game, this is essentially a Re:ZERO visual novel with occasional gameplay elements. Aimed towards fans of the series, it’s a great way to spend more time with your favorite characters.
For those who are less familiar, Re:Zero follows Subaru, an ex-shut in from modern-day Japan who was transported to another world. He was given a power called Return by Death, which forces him to return with his memories to an earlier ‘save point’. Unfortunately, Subaru cannot control whether to use this power or which save point he returns to. He cannot even tell anyone about his power, but he tries to use it to save himself and those close to him.
The visual novel’s story starts about a month after Subaru’s arrival in the world, just after Arlam village is saved. While there is a brief recap of events, I’d strongly suggest watching the Re:Zero anime or reading the light novel up to this point. Someone new to the series will be able to get by without it, but it’s definitely aimed at people who can dive right in.
As the story starts, you are reminded that the Kingdom of Lugunica has lost its king. Your companion Emilia is one of the five royal candidates foretold by prophecy to succeed the throne. But something unexpected has happened. The selection process to decide which candidate will be chosen has been postponed. Not only has the fifth candidate been found, but a sixth as well. They all appear to be valid, but the prophecy was clear that there would only be five.
The story has you spend time with the royal candidates and investigate what is happening with other problems happening at the same time. With attacks from mysterious strangers and political issues in the background, Subaru has to discover and reveal what is really happening. It’s a slow build up on what was previously learned and done, which leads to a rather big finale that ties everything together nicely. It took me ten hours in total to reach this point.
I should note here that editing quality was high for the most part. The occasional typo has slipped through. With that said, I am playing a pre-release version a couple of weeks before launch and patches have been ongoing. These may be reduced by release and they’re already very minor.
As would be expected by those familiar with Re:Zero, frequent deaths occur, and the story loops multiple times with Subaru returning to days previously experienced. Despite going over the same days, it speeds through a quick version of anything unchanged, rather than going through it again fully. This was a nice surprise, as some other visual novels with similar concepts just have you replay the same content or near enough.
It keeps things engaging as what you see is very different in each loop. Events change based on Subaru’s actions with the knowledge of what could have happened. It was particularly interesting to try and figure out why certain events did or didn’t happen due to the changes.
Another way it kept it interesting was that as part of the story you get to make connections and spend time with the other royal candidates and their team. It was nice to see a deeper dive into some of the other royal candidates than the anime provides. Different loops sometimes focused on different candidates too. They also had different reactions to you at times, since their relationship can be different in different loops and this is the first time that you have met many of them in this timeline.
Routes and Choices
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne does technically have multiple routes, but should be considered as a linear visual novel for the most part. The main story has some occasional choices, but things never vary too much. There are some choices in the gameplay section too which I’ll mention later.
After you clear the main story, there are a few bonus routes. These are all very short and give you a chance to spend time with some of the characters who don’t appear often in the story. One of them is just outright fanservice, focusing on a vacation and involves swimsuits.
There is one annoyance here for completionists. While there’s a flowchart to see where you can diverge into different routes and what choices are missing, there’s no option to do anything with it if you’ve passed that point. Unlike some visual novels, you cannot jump to certain points and the skipping functions are limited. Saving and loading does not keep overall completion either. This means multiple playthroughs might be needed to see some short scenes, just to go back a few minutes and choose a different choice.
As mentioned, the majority of Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne consists of visual novel gameplay. Outside of this, there are some sections where you can wander around and talk to people, though these are infrequent. While not the only way, talking to people can get you key information or occasionally items.
This key information can be used in briefing sessions. These are events where you will discuss an upcoming battle or situation with other characters and make decisions on how to proceed. If you have the right information, it unlocks choices that can help in the situation and change how it unfolds.
Even when these are battles, these aren’t typical. You don’t actually fight anyone directly in most cases. You play as Subaru and move him around the area, interacting with objects and people to try and influence things. In one case you are helping someone retreat and knocking down boxes and moving carts to try and block the enemy. Another has you laying traps around. In a non-battle example, you are searching for clues and directing other characters on where to search. In all cases, these situations involve a movement gauge that runs down and ends your turn when empty. The enemy then has their chance to move.
There are no real technical issues that I’ve found, but I did find some unusual choices. Most notable were the keyboard controls on PC. These involve WASD for menus, tab to move between an item list, and backspace to close a menu. This is quite different from the standard for visual novels or games, but not a problem as such. I mostly played with a gamepad which I found more comfortable.
Another unusual choice was that many of the options need to be set in a configuration app external to the game. By default the game launched in a tiny window, so most PC players would want to adjust this on the first launch.
The visual novel portions of the game are beautifully presented with a wide variety of animated sprites over backgrounds. Seeing them not only move their mouths when talking, but change position and occasionally make gestures like shrugging really helps to bring things to life. The CGs are also high quality too, though there are less than twenty of them, so they’re fairly limited.
I couldn’t say that I was a fan of the graphics of the gameplay portions. The models in particular don’t look great, lacking detail, and being in a super-deformed style. While this works sometimes, I didn’t feel that it turned out too well here. One boss in particular I actually laughed at when I saw the model. Luckily these sections are a minor portion of the game.
The audio is high-quality. They’ve brought in the original anime voice actors and included both the English and Japanese audio as options.
Sound balancing is occasionally an issue with a quieter voice than ideal compared to the music sometimes. In one section I found I couldn’t hear the voices over the background music, but generally, this wasn’t an issue. It can be adjusted in options too.
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne has a rather interesting mystery and makes use of the looping mechanic to unveil it in a unique way. The characters are great and it works well as an extra arc for those who have watched the anime or read the light novel. I also liked that the gameplay didn’t take the expected route of direct fighting, but had a more roundabout way of dealing with problems. While I did have a few complaints, these were fairly minor in the scope of things and overall I really enjoyed this visual novel.
RE:ZERO -STARTING LIFE IN ANOTHER WORLD- THE PROPHECY OF THE THRONE IS RECOMMENDED
For another visual novel with gameplay, perhaps you’d like to take a look at Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen.
Many thanks goes to Spike Chunsoft for a PC review code for this title.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.