The length and complexity of this game’s title is matched only by its narrative.
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne is quite the mouthful. But if that long title is indicative of anything, it’s how long-winded the game’s cutscenes are. Don’t let that be a deterrent to you, mind, but be aware that this game, despite being classified as a “tactical adventure”, is very much a visual novel through and through, with the odd short gameplay segment thrown in here and there.
Visual novels aren’t for everyone, but if you do enjoy the genre, then Re:ZERO – The Prophecy of the Throne, as I shall be calling it from now on, is definitely worth your time. Not only is its story unique, captivating and very well written, but it’s brought to life with gorgeous animation. If you’re an existing fan of Re:ZERO, a franchise that started life as a Japanese light novel series back in 2012, you’ll of course find even more to love here. But if you’re brand new it doesn’t matter; The Prophecy of the Throne is a standalone story. It doesn’t rely on an existing knowledge of Re:ZERO’s world and lore, which is refreshing.
In Re:ZERO – The Prophecy of the Throne, you follow Subaru, a young man who mysteriously finds himself in a completely new world. But Subaru, adept as he is, doesn’t let it bother him; he takes it in his stride. And as the game picks up, just one month after his arrival in this new world, he’s already found a job, a home, and a bunch of characters to call his friends. He’s now working for the enchanting Emilia, a young woman who just happens to be a royal candidate, and one who Subaru is rather fond of.
But suddenly finding himself in an alien land is far from the strangest thing to happen to Subaru. He’s also gained an ability called ‘Return to Death’. Put simply, if Subaru dies, he’ll unfathomably find himself transported back to a previous time in his life. It’s a bit like Groundhog Day; he’ll have the memory of everything that came before, but the people he interacts with won’t. It’s a handy skill to have, considering how frequently the poor sod finds himself dying in Re:ZERO – The Prophecy of the Throne.
The game’s narrative centres around the royal selection; a renowned event where the next ruler of the Kingdom is chosen. Typically, the event has five candidates, but something’s off this time around: there’s six. That means one of them is an impostor, and it comes down to Subaru to figure out who. The trouble is, he’s not the only one with a keen interest in the royal candidates; some very nefarious characters are hellbent on causing chaos and destruction.
That’s about all I’m going to say about the story, because to reveal more will ruin it. But, like Groundhog Day, Subaru will live the same period of time several times. He’ll learn from his mistakes every time, but new events and new problems will pop up. While a lot of the story plays out in a linear fashion, you do have a handful of opportunities to influence the flow of the narrative. You’ll have decisions to make and gameplay sections to complete – though don’t expect too many of them. It’s not unusual to sit through over an hour of story at a time before coming to an interactive section.
It’s a shame Re:ZERO – The Prophecy of the Throne‘s gameplay sections are so infrequent, because when they do show up, they’re rather enjoyable. These are where the promised tactics come in. In these sections, the typical anime illustrations are switched out for adorable chibi-style characters who can move around a 3D world. In charge of Subaru, you’ll be able to move around an environment, interact with other characters and search certain areas. Occasionally, your task is nothing more than to explore and talk to someone, but when actual missions come along, you’ll need to employ the most basic of tactics.
Though it’s a far cry from true turn-based strategy, missions see you take it in turns with your opponent to make a move. But rather than engage in combat, you’ll be more concerned with hunting for information, securing a path to safety, or escorting your companions somewhere. They may find themselves in combat, but Subaru is more of a thinking man than a fighting man. These sections never last long, but completing them is key to progressing through the game; fail, and you’ll need to try again. They’re a welcome break from story scenes which, as enjoyable as they are, can begin to drag.
What is nice about Re:ZERO – The Prophecy of the Throne, though, is that it’s fully voiced. All except Subaru’s inner thoughts are voiced by an adept cast. Better yet, there’s both Japanese and English dialogue available. Considering this is the first Re:ZERO game to be brought over to the west, it’s nice to see that no expense has been spared in terms of localisation. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to try out the English voice acting, as it will be added to the game via a day one patch that wasn’t available at the time of review. But many users will opt for Japanese dialogue anyway, as it adds more authenticity to the proceedings.
If you’re expecting a full-on tactical adventure, then you won’t find it here. But if you’re keen to sink into an engaging visual novel, Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne has plenty to offer. Its story is wholly original and engaging, if a little long-winded at times, but it’s brought to life with gorgeous animation and wonderful characterisation. It’s a shame there aren’t more gameplay sections, but what’s here is enjoyable enough.
Re:ZERO – The Prophecy of the Throne Review: GameSpew’s Score