By Diego Hernandez / August 6th, 2019
|Title||DATE A LIVE: Rinne Utopia|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||July 23rd, 2019|
|Genre||Visual Novel, Romance, Comedy|
|Platform||PC, PlayStation 4|
|Age Rating||MATURE 17+|
The wait is finally over! DATE A LIVE: Rinne Utopia and the sequels are finally localized. This journey has been a long and arduous one for fans of the light novel adaptation. For clarification, it is a journey that started in 2013 when the first twelve episodes of the anime series aired. DATE A LIVE brought a mind-boggling concept, well-designed characters, and the right hints of romance and comedy together. As a result, it saw amazing success not just locally but internationally. In terms of the success within Japan, this would lead to more well-received adaptations. This includes original video animations, a second season, a movie, and a third season. Meanwhile international fans, for the most part, loved every second of it as the series catapulted to within top 100 polling in anime popularity. However, the adaptations don’t end here as it’s time to talk video games.
Would you believe me if I told you that, not even a week after they wrap up first season’s productions, a game was about to release? Such is the case for DATE A LIVE: Rinne Utopia. The first attempt at a dating simulator that grants fans the interaction they’ve always wanted with the girls from the show. The final episode for season one aired June 22nd, and Rinne Utopia released June 27th. That is certainly one way to capitalize on your momentum. Idea Factory International blesses the populace with the localization six years later. After a long and grueling wait, it’s finally time to ask the proper question. How does DATE A LIVE: Rinne Utopia hold up?
The story takes place in a world plagued by a new kind of natural disaster, the spacequakes. You are a second-year student by the name of Shido Itsuka trying to live a normal life with your younger sister. However, fate has another plan in store for you as you indirectly discover the cause of spacequakes. Spirits, otherworldly beings with incredible power who wander without purpose. While a combative few take up arms against the spirits as the Anti-Spirits Team, another, in the shadows, seeks to find a more tactical victory as Ratatoskr. In a very revealing meeting, you find out two things. One, the commander of Ratatoskr is none other than your younger sister. Two, the most effective way to combat spirits: Love. That’s right, you must make these otherworldly girls fall in love with you. Violence is never the answer as you unexpectedly join Ratatoskr. Date a girl, save the world.
This story takes place in a nearby future after three successful sealings, and another dangerous spirit looming large. For clarification, sealing refers to the act of kissing a charmed spirit and, effectively, toning down their powers so they don’t destroy the world. However, one day it seems one of the spirits you sealed appears to be going berserk. Try hard as you can but nothing is working and eventually you are knocked out. You wake three days later, only to see all the colorful faces you met over time once more. However, a new face and structure hide among the crowd and town, and you seem to think it’s strange. Despite this, everyone else says they’ve been there before. The memories slowly come back to you, maybe you just hit your head harder than you thought? Or maybe it’s something else entirely.
The cast behind this inaugural visual novel is the very same from the first season of the show. For established fanatics, you already know every character here. For those newcomers, allow me to tell you a little bit about each of them to make your reading experience a smooth one. Let’s start with the commander herself, Kotori Itsuka. Prior to the meddling with spirits, Kotori was a very energetic and rather cute little sister. Furthermore, it wasn’t until spirits got involved that her demeanor changed. While Shido might be the densest human being alive, Kotori is very smart, assertive, and won’t be afraid to call you out on your stupidity. It’s a side you’ve never seen before and it all switches with her ribbons. White ribbons bringing out the pure, black ribbons bringing out the mean.
Her route is one of the most wonderful reads as it deals with the most realistic issues. While Kotori is a more composed person on the surface, she’s still younger than you. To put it simply, we all need that one person to support us even if we think we don’t need it. It’s a route with morals that stick outside of the game.
Next up is the first of spirits sealed by Shido, Tohka Yatogami. Tohka is an adorable glutton who now lives with Shido after her sealing. She, like the following spirits, have little knowledge of the world she now resides in. Despite this, she’s an absolute warrior on the battlefield. Code name Princess with her mighty weapon Sandalphon, you’ll find none better with the two-handed sword. She loves two things: Shido and food. Her route is relatively simple as it deals with both parties finding out what love is. In the process, they do everything that’s quite wonderfully involved with the feeling, even a misunderstanding. This is a route for the classic romantic.
Following her is Yoshino, the second sealed spirit. Yoshino is incredibly young, as such she’s incredibly shy to everyone except the main cast. Despite that, she doesn’t do a lot of talking anyways. That falls on her little puppet: Yoshinon, also known as Zadkiel. Fittingly enough, Yoshino has an outstanding amount of curiosity about the world she now lives in. Previously known as Hermit, the places she previously visited would be turned into winter wonderlands at the drop of a hat, or puppet. This a standard route that deals with the subject of growing up mentally. We only have so long to live, and we can’t depend on others so much as time progresses. It’s almost on par with Kotori in terms of realism, but not as rewarding due to lacking pacing. A route for those looking for something lighter.
The next character is officially the fan favorite according to the publisher’s poll, Kurumi Tokisaki. There are several words used to describe Kurumi, the best one is used for her code name: Nightmare. Kurumi is the most dangerous out of all the spirits in terms of intellect and strength on the battlefield. Her weapon is Zafkiel, and it allows her to manipulate time. Not only that, she can enhance her power through consumption of others. Before this game, Kurumi saw Shido as something delicious, but knows very well what he’s capable of so she keeps her fair distance. Her strength breeds confidence, as such she’ll tease Shido to no end as he ventures forward in the route. Speaking of, her route deals with individuality and change. It’s the most thought-provoking read of the bunch that has enough pacing to be very rewarding.
Spirits are out of the way, let’s talk about our normal friend: Origami Tobiichi. If anyone can rival the amount of love Tohka has for Shido, it’s Origami. A model student with grades and athleticism through the roof, with the latter landing her a spot on the Anti-Spirit Team. She joins them following an incident with a spirit that claimed the lives of her parents. The path of revenge starts there. Despite the cause, Origami on the surface is just a regular gal that’s completely obsessed with Shido and her advances are very aggressive. Her route deals with confronting the past and present equally and coming to terms for a better tomorrow.
That about does it for the characters, oh I almost forgot someone: Rinne Sonogami. It’s very silly not just for me to forget about her, but Shido as well. She’s his childhood friend with a positive personality shining brighter than the sun. Rinne appears within Shido’s school as the number one ranked for best potential bride and it shows. She knows how to cook, clean, and the whole nine yards. Being neighbors for so long, she’s practically another family member for Shido and Kotori. She always wants what’s best for you and will do all she can to support you.
With the characters done, let’s talk game specifics. It’s a fully animated, fully voiced visual novel. After the day progresses, you’re presented a menu to decide which girl you wish to date for the evening. There are important and non-important choices within the date dialogue. It’s important for you to distinguish these, however the game does a relatively good job of simplifying the process. In fact, with the simple information I have provided on each character’s personality, it should allow you to make conscious decisions that’ll lead to a happy ending with your girl of choosing. The writing is well localized and captures the personality of each girl well keeping your immersion safe. The soundtrack reflects the one used in the show and does a good job of enhancing each scene.
What truly will sell DATE A LIVE: Rinne Utopa and the ones that follow is the clever usage of Tsunako’s art for CGs and sprites. The characters look amazing and really nail down what the major selling point for the series is, the girls. Likewise, background art complements the CG and animated sprites so well that I had to stop reading to appreciate the work. A truly nice combination that you will probably see in all three games.
As with every game, there are cons to this DATE A LIVE title. For instance, as noted earlier in Yoshino’s description, the pacing can be just right for some routes but move too slow or too fast on others. While I did enjoy my time with all of them, it’s lackluster to see some routes end on one brilliant high point while others are still stuck to the ground, so to speak. The soundtrack doesn’t have any tracks that stick out on their own. Finally, the overall length of the game’s routes at first seem short but, considering the amount of route options, it becomes entirely understandable. However it does leave you wanting more. Thankfully this is part of a trilogy pack.
DATE A LIVE: Rinne Utopia is an exquisite first entry of a series of visual novels that truly give the fans what they wanted. It sets the bar relatively high for the others. If you can ignore the overall length, and lack of outstanding OST, you may find yourself reading some rather thought-provoking and overall romantic routes. It took me 19 hours to fully complete the first of three games. At a price point of $39.99, this alone is worth the money. This has been part one of three of my review for DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation. Please look forward to the next review when we touch on DATE A LIVE: Arusu Install.
Game provided by publisher for review purposes.
comedyCompile Heartdate a liveDate a Live: Rinne UtopiaDate A Live: Rio ReincarnationharemIdea Factory InternationallocalizationPart OneReviewromancevisual novel