DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation | Star
DATE A LIVE | Cover Image
Title DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation
Developer Compile Heart
Publisher Idea Factory International
Release Date July 23rd, 2019
Genre Romance, Visual Novel
Platform PC, PlayStation 4
Age Rating M
Official Website

DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation is the last visual novel within this localization bundle. For clarification and deeper understanding of the characters involved, please read my reviews for the previous entries. Rio Reincarnation continues the brilliant marketing strategy done by the prior two entries, this time releasing just before the Mayuri Judgement movie on July 30th, 2015. As if that wasn’t enough, it was packaged alongside Rinne Utopia and Arusu-Install for a release on the PlayStation 4 on October 22nd, hot off the heels of the movie’s release. With a focus of bringing back the game-original characters, there’s many questions to be asked regarding their place within the series’ universe. Will we find that answer? The only one question I can probably answer right now is this: How does this final entry hold up?

Welcome back, Shido Itsuka. Your last few adventures have been quite the ride, rejecting a false reality and escaping a video game world all while trying to keep over eight women happy. What a life to be living. However, it doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon. You wake up one morning and see some familiar faces, but there’s just one big problem. For plot-related circumstances, these characters aren’t supposed to be here. Furthermore, they know they shouldn’t be here either. It’s time for you to gear up for an investigation into this newfound reality that brings everyone back together. Welcome to DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation.

DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation | Rinne Sonogami

In this game entry, the developers realize that there are way too many girls to create routes for. With that established, this game will focus on three very important main girls, the first of which is Rinne Sonogami. Rinne is the main heroine in Rinne Utopia. She’s a girl who deeply cares for Shido and will do anything in her power to make him happy. She’s an impactful member of the DATE A LIVE cast for her rational thinking and a welcoming sight of maturity in the mess that is Shido’s friend group. However, it’s not all in plain sight. Rinne deals with an internal struggle to separate the reality she wants versus the reality that should take place.

DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation | Maria Arusu

The second of the three is Maria Arusu. Maria is the main heroine of Arusu Install. Originally expressing robotic-like behavior and mannerisms, she experiences an emotional growth as she eventually helps Shido beat the game. So much growth, in fact, that she practically seems like a new person now. Maria’s love and appreciation for Shido knows no bounds between realities. However, in this case, this is a reality that deeply perplexes her after what occurred in the finale of her story. She settles into the new daily life well but is in a deep search for answers for this not-so-troubling circumstance. Her relaxed aura blending with a wonderfully caring attitude towards Shido is sure to pull some heart strings.

DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation | Marina Arusu

The last of the damsels is the most unusual: Marina Arusu, the “antagonist” of Arusu Install. Marina’s a smugger and more assertive version of Maria that exhibits an opposite color palette. While her motives in the previous adventure cause room for concern, previous one-on-one interactions have turned this dangerous gal into a safer one. Her personality leaves some aspects to be desired, but overall, she’s a real treat to see again. Marina also seems to know what’s going on with the world, and how we can get out of it. Shocking news to you, but she’s not willing to share that information anytime soon.

DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation | Rio

That about covers the romantic options, so let’s talk about the true star of the play. If you go to buy this game, she’ll be on the cover. If you start up the game, she’ll be in the main menu. There’s no getting around Rio, a mysterious girl whom you’ve never seen before but calls you papa. This cute and childish bundle of joy is on a mission to find something important. However, she doesn’t even know what it is. Could she be the key to all of this? Furthermore, why does she call you papa?

DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation operates under the ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ formula. For clarification, it’s a carbon copy of the previous two entries in terms of UI and choice-driven gameplay. The only minor differences are updates to character sprites and the integration of new wonderful music tracks. Except for a few minor typos, the localization efforts deliver on an exceptional script translation and editing that makes the dialogue more natural. Up to this point, if you liked what you saw in the previous entries, there’s little room to say no to playing this one.

DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation | Conflict

The reality this time around is that they didn’t learn from their previous mistakes and somehow got worse. With the routes reduced to three, the stories for each of these beautiful girls ends far too quickly. The one benefit of the doubt I can give is that these girls were given character development in their proper titles. However, this time around, all the routes are on a single script with your choices being the deciding factor. In fact, there’s little to no script differences between each girl, and you won’t even know which ending you’ll get after the credits roll. It’s a mess and these girls really did deserve better treatment. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun reading.

Despite falling on its face towards the end, DATE A LIVE: Rio Reincarnation is still a must-read for those who checked out Rinne Utopia and Arusu Install. The satisfaction of seeing the new girls once again is just unparalleled.  While it doesn’t give the series a satisfying conclusion, we can only hope for more when DATE A LIVE: Ren Dystopia comes out in 2020 with the Western release sometime close to that. Rio Reincarnation took eight hours to read, and while paired with the 39 from Rinne Utopia AND Arusu Install it makes the $49.99 standard price worth every penny. The countdown to Ren Dystopia begins and we hope to see you back here when we can review it.

Review Score

Review copy provided by publisher.

Diego Hernandez
Diego is an incredibly passionate visual novel enthusiast from an island within the Caribbean. He intends on working alongside Operation Rainfall to inform the masses about the vast library of breathtaking visual literature. As well as spreading awareness of the amazingly talented individuals hard at work on said breathtaking projects.