Riddle Joker is a visual novel by developer Yuzusoft and published by NekoNyan, much like Senren＊Banka which we reviewed previously. It follows Satoru, an agent working for a secretive organization that helps to solve crimes involving astrals – a segment of the population with special powers.
I would describe this as a mix of an action-adventure storyline, with a good amount of comedy and romance. It covers some serious topics such as discrimination, family issues, and crime, but is overall fairly light. It does contain sex scenes and nudity.
Speaking of the sexual scenes, if you are buying this game on Steam, a lot of the mature content has been cut out through methods such as conveniently placed beams of light, CGs that zoom in to avoid panty shots, and skipped sexual scenes. A free 18+ patch can restore this, which can be found at the NekoNyan Shop. Versions bought elsewhere such as Denpasoft / JAST USA are the full 18+ version and do not need patches. The sexual content itself is, for the most part, fairly vanilla, though it does involve some interesting use of their special abilities. Most characters have five scenes, though some of these are unlockable bonus content. Mosaics remain in place and cannot be removed.
Riddle Joker starts by introducing you to Satoru and his sister by showing them taking down a minor criminal for the organization. They use their powers to work outside of the law to do things that the police are not equipped to do. People already think of astrals as ‘creepy’ and they are often discriminated against, so crimes committed by them only worsen the reputation. The organization wants to stop these quietly and wants to work to improve the reputation of astrals.
Satoru and his sister are assigned to infiltrate a school connected with astral research in order to solve a case. The school takes in astrals who have been thrown out due to their powers being discovered or similar cases. This is relatively common, so having them enroll as transfer students wasn’t suspicious.
The story continues as they meet and get closer to the students at the school, trying to live a normal student life by day while continuing missions as secret agents by night. With the research going on in the connected facility and a lot of high-risk students attending, the security makes this difficult. Through an accident, he ends up being found out by one of the students there. He lies and says that he’s there to protect her. At the same time, he finds out one of her own secrets.
I liked the world they built for Riddle Joker and its concept. By adding in the element of Satoru being a secret agent and special powers, it avoids falling into the standard high school setting, despite taking place at a high school and having many of the same types of events. The focus was often on keeping up the pretense around friends, avoiding detection, and completing the missions that came up. The idea of working to make astrals more accepted helped to give a purpose to the missions too, rather than just being hunting down criminals.
After a big mission, the story breaks into one of five character routes. I felt that three of these were very good, one was good and one was a bit disappointing but still enjoyable. The best ones added to the story well, feeling like a natural continuation. They developed the characters well and revealed a lot of secrets. One route notably, leans very heavily into the idea of a secret agent falling in love with his target, which was a really good read. Some of the routes connected with each other too, leading to similar events happening, but taking a very different route there.
I enjoyed all of the stories included in Riddle Joker, some more than others. Each one had something about it that I enjoyed, as did each character.
Riddle Joker has five heroines, each with their own route that took me about three and a half hours to read. With the common route taking me six hours, this visual novel lasted me over twenty-three hours.
Ayase could be considered the main heroine. It’s her who discovers Satoru’s secret and has her own discovered in turn. The common route focuses on the danger to her as the main plot point.
She’s a multilayered character who often puts up an act. She’s not only the student council president but probably the most famous astral in the country due to an incident that happened. She acts incredibly polite and friendly, but behind that, she’s actually very harsh and stubborn, with a complex about her chest size. Behind that, she’s actually quite nice at times. Her route is one of the more story-focused ones
Nanami is featured quite heavily too. This is Satoru’s adoptive sister and partner in the organization. Having the power to heal and hacking skills, she is perfect as his support in the field.
Much like Ayase, she can be quite harsh to Satoru. Though in Nanami’s case, it’s more severe with her constantly calling you a siscon and acting surprised that anyone else would be interested in you. She softens up after admitting her feelings. One thing I liked was that it went into the hesitation and feelings of guilt about those feelings between siblings, even if not blood-related. A lot of visual novels with these relationships skip over that.
Mayu is my personal favorite. She acts like an older sister stereotype but has a serious complex about being older than everyone else. She’s actually purposely held herself back and only goes to classes occasionally while working on research most of the time.
Her route follows on from the main story particularly well and she has her own secrets to discover. Some of these are found out early on, while others are revealed only in her own route. She’s very loving and gentle, though constantly giving in to anxiety. You also get to learn more about Satoru through this route.
Hazuki is the responsible type and can be quite rigid about the rules. She has an incredibly strong sense of public duty and will always try to help people, as well as upholding the rules.
There was some interesting inner conflict in her route that I’ll not spoil, but I did enjoy it. I also did have to laugh at her obsession with certain films too.
Finally, there’s Chisaki. I liked her, but it felt like she was underdeveloped (in more ways than one) and under-represented. She didn’t really appear much in the common route and her route was mostly just a cute romance. She was even left off the title screen and had less adult scenes than the other characters.
Beyond that, she was a fun character, if a bit one dimensional. She plays the part of a cheerful outgoing younger girl who teases you, even when she takes damage from it herself by calling you a lolicon for liking her.
The writing was well done. It made good use of comedy, the action scenes were well written and the dialogue felt great. The editing was high quality for the most part, as I’ve come to expect from NekoNyan titles. That said, some grammar errors or typos made their way through. The majority of this was fixed by a patch early on, but some remain.
Graphics, Sound, and Options
The artwork was high quality overall and there are a massive 125 CGs, not including variations. Some of these were super-deformed ones. Sprites came in a few poses and outfits (or lack of) too, with a lot of animations and movement used to bring these to life. A lot of effort was obviously put into making the game look good. Much like Senren＊Banka, I particularly liked the expressions, some of which were hilarious.
The music is well done with approximately 50 tracks giving it quite a variety. These were used well to add immersion to the scenes. I really enjoyed the voicing too. All the characters other than the main character are all voiced and fit the characters well.
The options are especially robust, with individual volume controls per character, options surrounding text color, and more. Beyond that, it has quite a few useful features such as touch screen optimization, gamepad support, and a convenient ‘return to where you left’ option when you start the game.
I would recommend Riddle Joker if you enjoy action adventures told with a light comedy style. It’s reasonably lighthearted despite taking on some serious topics and stays engaging throughout. It has some endearing characters and while the plot isn’t groundbreaking, it certainly kept me interested until the end.
RIDDLE JOKER IS RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to NekoNyan for a PC review code for this title.
Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage
Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!
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.