By Diego Hernandez / September 19th, 2019
|Title||DATE A LIVE: Arusu-Install|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||July 23rd, 2019|
|Platform||PlayStation 4, PC|
Welcome to the second part of our DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation review! Following the review of DATE A LIVE: Rinne Utopia, which you can read here, now it’s time for DATE A LIVE: Arusu-Install. Arusu-Install shares an incredibly similar release pattern to that of Rinne Utopia. It released on June 26th, 2014, exactly a year after the first season of the animation and Rinne Utopia, and just a week after the animation’s second season concluded. This second season introduced 3 new main girls for our protagonist, Shido. If you’re keeping count, on top of the existing routes in Rinne Utopia, the number of routes now sits at 8. With more girls than ever and a base for profound storytelling in Rinne Utopia, there’s only one question to ask: how does this wondrous sequel hold up?
You once again take the role of normal high school student Shido Itsuka in a not-so-distant future. Your daily life is suddenly not as normal when you remember you have all these girls begging for your attention. While you’re dealing with all of that, your support at Ratatoskr is coming up with a new strategy to make romancing spirits a lot easier. Furthermore, they need you to be the main test subject. The project is My Little Shido 2, a fully immersive VR dating-simulation game utilizing all the data they have on the town and its populace. After a moment of hesitancy, you enter the game and are in awe of the accuracy until you run into an irregularity. A mysterious girl seeks an answer to the age-old question – what is love? A few moments later, you are suddenly trapped within the game. Welcome to DATE A LIVE: Arusu-Install.
For the sake of your freedom, you and your bundle of fair maidens are to cooperate in teaching this new girl about love. How will you accomplish this? Dating, of course! Utilizing the same gameplay mechanics from Rinne Utopia, players will select the girl they desire every day, and make crucial conversational decisions to bring the pair even closer. However, there is a catch. All things considered, you are in a simulation and this new girl holds all the cards. Therefore, for every date it will be a random scenario that may not be on the line with your choice’s personality. For instance, sadism from a calmer character or laziness from a more composed one. Furthermore, this makes decision making more reactionary as you must learn these “new” aspects of each girl’s personality.
Speaking of girls, we must talk about your options. However, since there’s 8 options in this game, I will be speaking of the new additions. You may view my written details on the others within my Rinne Utopia review. Let’s start with both Kaguya and Yuzuru Yamai. This dynamic pair of siblings form the deadly spirit Berserk. Kaguya is the more outspoken one of the two, but more childish. Her speech mannerisms make it seem like she’s always acting out an otherworldly drama. For what reason is she doing this? Because she thinks it’s super awesome. However, she hates the teasing that comes with it. Despite the theatrics, she cares about Yuzuru and Shido more than anything in the world. Considering this, it makes those softer moments, where it seems she breaks character, even more special.
Yuzuru is the opposite of her sister in almost every aspect. Her appearance and speaking mannerisms are more mature but lack emotion. With Yuzuru, you’ll be quick to understand the meaning of her words as she’ll always state her intent before commencing the sentence. While Kaguya is all about cool, with Yuzuru it’s all about the cute things of life. She’s more compassionate and this is probably due to the tutelage of fellow heroine, Origami. Despite the obvious contrasts, emotionally speaking she also cares about her sister and Shido over the entire world. In short, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to choose between the two.
Next on the list is the spirit with the code name Diva, Miku Izayoi. Miku is an extremely popular idol who’s also a slight airhead. Following the antics that led to her falling in love with Shido, she’s been obsessively all over him. For clarification, Miku isn’t shy about her feelings, in fact, her level of being assertive is on par with that of Kurumi. She’s aware of her own physical weapons and uses them accordingly in attempts to subdue Shido. With Miku, it’s all about giving up the life of fame to settle down with a person who risks it all for her, in this case Shido. It’s cute and all, but her lack of tact can make certain situations not-so-cute. Despite this, her route is still quite the joy to read and will pull some emotional strings.
Finally, let’s introduce the reason why this game is taking place, the new girl. We really don’t know much about her, not even her actual name. However, we do know one thing, her motive and it’s to learn about this strange feeling we call love. Evidently, it’s extremely hard to define the feeling through words, so she decides to employ a more physical method. If this were a circus, which you could argue it is, she’d be the ringleader. As the days progress, you seem to notice small changes in her robotic personality, almost as if she’s learning. What will happen when she finally puts the puzzle together? Time will truly tell.
The cast for this DATE A LIVE game continues to be as lively and colorful as you can imagine, with the new additions providing some of the more popular clichés often found in other series within the genre. Furthermore, it indicates there’s a girl for everyone within this new adventure, and much like the previous entry, you’re encouraged to check out all the routes. When it comes to the actual gameplay, it’s another copy and paste from the last game, with a map selection screen. However, upon selection, the scenarios you encounter are entirely unique and unexpected for some girls. This provides a breath of fresh air and allows readers to see a side of a girl they perhaps have never seen until now. The right answer to important route choices are more obvious to distinguish and the script is wonderfully translated for a continuous reading.
When it comes to art, there are several improvements to the character sprites, CGs, and even background imagery. Hard to believe since they were already great in Rinne Utopia. Among the notable improvements are the scenes portraying intimate moments between Shido and the chosen girl. These scenes are animated to carry an even deeper emphasis on the gravity of your situation. Furthermore, when mixed with incredibly professional voice acting and a wonderfully translated and edited script, this can make some readers sweat profusely, so approach with caution. The soundtrack got a major upgrade from the last title with a few unique tracks that enhance important moments within each individual route. Sadly, you won’t notice the monumental difference until the end of the game.
However, there are quite a few problems with the title. Much like Rinne Utopia before it, DATE A LIVE: Arusu-Install suffers from a length problem due to its absurd amount of route options. This causes some routes to either transition too fast into serious relationships or even too slow towards something unfulfilling. The unique scenarios implemented for every date provide more fan service than actual character development and are more-so forgotten over the course of the read with only that last date counting for something at the end. Unless you count them appearing in the credits. Even recycling the same premise of being trapped within a new realm is a carbon copy of the last game.
Despite all of this, DATE A LIVE: Arusu-Install is still a fascinating story for fans of the harem series. The unique date scenarios and the welcome addition of the girls from the anime’s second season make for an interesting improvement to a formula previously provided. However, they leave much to improve and we can only hope Rio Reincarnation works on this. DATE A LIVE Arusu-Install takes around the same time that Rinne Utopia did to complete at around 20 hours. With two games already providing 40 hours of entertainment, the Rio Reincarnation package at $39.99 is worth every penny. Please buy it and look forward to the final part of this review that touches on the title game: DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation!
Game provided by publisher for review purposes.
Compile HeartDALdate a liveDATE A LIVE: Arusu InstallDate a Live: Rinne UtopiaDate A Live: Rio ReincartnationharemIdea Factory Internationallocalizationromancevisual novel