Raging Loop Review
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4
Release: 18th October 2019 / 5th December 2019 (PC)
Sooner or later, everyone should have experience the quite popular group game “Werewolf” where players are categorized in various two big groups (werewolfs and citizens) as well as multiple roles. These two then have to kill every single one of the opposite group, werewolfs can attack during the night and kill one citizen a time while citizens can vote who they want to hang during daytime. Now developer Kemco brough us a visual novel which makes this game playable in a game… playable!
Haruaki Fusaishi finds himself in the typically cliche setting of being lost in a giant forest and only the smal town Yasumizu promises to offer guidance out of this misery. Unfortunately, he soon realizes its plagued by werewolves, creatures attacking at night, relentlessy killing one village after another. Only Haruaki seems to be able to escape this fate as he reincarnates one day prior to his murdering every time, giving him the chance to learn from his mistakes and one night, beat the werewolves.
Obviously, Raging Loop is pretty much a visual novel set in a round of Werewolf with the slight twist of the main character being able to learn from his mistakes. This isn’t merely a gimmick to relad your save data though since it’s actually necessary to progress through the story. Finding items and knowledge that carry over to the previous day often unlocks previously locked routes, required to progress until the end of the plot. So in that way, dying becomes less of a punishment but more of an end of a side route, giving you info as to how to progress through the actual main route. After all, Raging Loop is a mainly linear experience if you desire to see its actual ending.
Story- and gameplay-wise though, the ability to reincarnate isn’t thematized or used well enough, despite its quite neat integration into the flow. Mainly, because it just offers no real freedom and only serves as a tool to lead you into other linear dead ends, on top of being never an actual focus or well explained enough. It sometimes made me wonder why I’m even given this ability and flow chart when I never have actual control over anything and merely click pre-defined buttons in a pre-defined order.
Enough of the rather slight gameplay elements, the true core of Raging Loop is its writing after all. One of the biggest questions I had about the concept of basically transforming a popular children game into an adult horror visual novel was, whether it actually offers more than just a gimmick. Luckily, it does! During each night Haruaki can visit other people’s homes and check if something is happening to them, which offers at least some degree of freedom and often presents new mysteries depending if they got visited by other people or killed. This is actually the biggest reason why Raging Loop feels like werewolf: It relies on the very same base principle, keeping you guessing whether you can even trust somebody while forcing you to push onwards. Naturally, looping helps in preventing a streak of perma deaths due to getting murdered as a result of your choices too.
On the other hand, Raging Loop offers a simply engaging mystery plot coated in the feeling of an extremely long round werewolf. Especially if you’re a huge fan of the old, creepy town cliché the Yasumizu will hit all the right spots with its mysterious inhabitants, weird cultist rituals and the way it merges classic themes of the real world game with the overall adult atmosphere. Many people will have their respective roles like hunter or lover, which slowly unravel over the course of the story and are infused with sad or melancholic backstories throughout. On top of that, the cast itself establishes itself as a really solid ensemble of protagonists with their own unique talking styles and backgrounds that fit surprisingly well with their respective roles.
Only the overall conclusion came across a bit… lacking? While it’s certainly satisfactory, over the course of the game Raging Loop warps more and more into your typical mystery visual novel with many werewolf traces disappearing with each character’s death, making the whole experience rather unsurprising and incoherent towards the end.
What remains consistent throughout the whole game is the vivid, pretty unique artstyle and mass of adult violence. Featuring a rough, almost old-school style with little similarities to modern visual novels, Raging Loop feels like a thing lost in time, which is probably exactly what they’re aiming for. Naturally, the art itself looks good nonetheless, although often repetitive. Mostly because the deaths and most action sequences aren’t actually shown but merely described while sound effects play in the backgroun. Considering the brutality of them, this may be for the better, it still feels a bit cheap, especially because even crucial ones that are hard to follow through text aren’t shown either.
Raging Loop is a surprisingly well-crafted werewolf gamification with some unique characters and a certainly great atmosphere. While its lacking production values may become obvious in certain moments, there’s nothing truly distracting about this trip into your own childhood or the gripping plot as a whole.
[A Review Code was provided by PQube]