24 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 12.4 hrs on record
Posted: Jun 5, 2019 @ 2:14pm
Product received for free

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Punch Line is a visual novel expansion on the anime of the same name. The game has been out on Playstation in Japan for several years, in Europe and North America since last year, but it recently released onto Steam. The price tag is a bit hefty. After all, the demanding $50 with the game time around 10-15 hours means that you really have to be a fan of VNs or a fan of the anime to go out of your way to buy it. And if you own a Playstation, I just checked the prices on Amazon, you can buy the physical game for half that price in the US, so it would have been nice for a relative reduction in price with this PC port.

If you have watched the anime, you know the things that go on and you understand a lot of the stuff that happens. I will not divulge any plot twists in this review, because it really would really be a disservice to you, the reader. If you haven't seen the anime but are interested in the story, know that both the game and the anime will basically follow the same plot. Different aspects of revelations may be moved around for episodic inclusion and for comprehension in the game. After all, the anime is all passive, and you can keep watching even if you don't understand.

Well, what am I saying anyway? The game is rather passive as well. There are only a small handful of interactive gameplay parts in the first half that can only have so many variations. The incorrect ones lead to game over, which in this case is the world ending. And correct solutions will progress the story. In the second half of the game, when certain situations change, this mini game is no longer employed, instead it's just a purely choose-your-death visual novel--as in the right choice will progress the story, but the wrong choice leads to a game over.

You get a lot more in-depth look at what is going on, and you learn a bit more about the individual characters in the game compared to the anime. What is really nice about this visual novel compared to many others is that the characters are not just 2D still-image representations with a few appearances that recur throughout the story. Rather, they are textured to have a 3D appearance, completely recreated to give a different appearance compared to the flattened hand-drawn 2D anime characters, and all of the characters are given fully looped animations. Each scene does not show much, but you definitely see where a lot of additional work went into giving this VN its own life aside from the anime. What is nice is that the story-writer for both versions were the same person, so there wasn't a fundamental shift or drastic and unwanted story plot change going from one to the other.

There are segments of the anime interlaced into the game as well, where they are put in works quite well, so I have no complaints about those. But for the most part, almost all of the dialogue were reworked into the VN format and you get a fairly fresh experience compared to sitting back and watching the anime.

At the end of the day, if you are fan of the anime or you have heard about this some other way, and want to have a good laugh at some really silly jokes (some that are translated quite well into English as well) then this could be for you. Just be aware of the basic concept of the protagonist who cannot look at any girl's panties without endangering the entire world. The plot twists and turns in all kinds of unexpected ways, and the story is really where this game/VN shines. Forget about the mini-game in the first half and the choose-your-death adventure in the second. They are just there to stunt the story a bit. In my opinion, they don't need to be there at all.

I think both the anime and the game have their own strengths and weaknesses, and I think they complement each other quite well. I am not going to tell you whether you should play the game first or watch the anime first. The game proffers better understanding overall with its better and lengthier explanations. But I personally think that enjoyment of the plot twists can happen from either, and is not a problem for me.

Like I said above, if you are a fan of VNs (as this is basically that) and the anime series by the same name, you will probably enjoy this story and everything it offers. Just be aware that there is really very little interactive gameplay and sit back for the ride. If that doesn't sound like you, this is probably too pricey for its offering of anywhere between 10-15 hours of a visual novel that might have a basic concept that is too awkward for you. Then I would think you want to save your money and look for entertainment elsewhere.

-It's mostly a visual novel, with minimal interactive gameplay in the first half, and a selection of choices in the second half (with only one viable answer in each location).

-There's a gamepad default launch option that I couldn't get to work properly. So I ended up mapping keyboard controls to the controller through an emulator and that worked fine.

-Mixture of 3D recreated characters with good animations and some cut scenes from the anime.

-A lot of music from the anime, works pretty well with the VN set up.

-Targeted audience for sure, see above for details.
-Warning, the basic premise has to do with the protagonist looking at girls' panties, so if this sounds like it will turn you off, it probably will.

-Quite pricey, in my opinion, especially for a targeted audience title. Of course a lot of visual novels are quite pricey, though I don't understand why.

+Good story that you should not ruin by reading about it. You can choose either the anime or the game and have quite a blast weaving through all of the random twists and turns.
+Visually appealing and recreated characters in a 3D animated texture is nice compared to the anime.
+All dialogues big and small are voice-acted in Japanese with English subtitles.
+A good amount of entertainment.

-Opening and Closing songs/credits per episode cannot be skipped.
-Game locks to 1080p at 30 FPS (though it's a VN, so it's not a huge deal)
-Game gives keyboard controls on a layout, but the manual included gives PS4 button layouts. Yet the controller mapping seems to be off. (Resolved by mapping everything onto an emulated PS4 controller, but seems to be unnecessarily difficult.)
-No achievements (they are there on Playstation, just didn't get ported over with triggers.)

Punch Line is a good and fun distraction from reality with its absurd story twists and turns. The over-the-top humor seen in the anime series are carried into the game as well. It's purely a VN and after a while, the episode ending/opening song/animation might get a little annoying because of it showing up numerous times and are unskippable. But it is what it is, it does work out in the end as a worthy visual novel. I don't regret playing it and spending my time with it. As for the cost of things, if you have a Playstation, it might be the more wallet-saving measure for you. For the specific audience that I mentioned above, I would recommend it.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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YQMaoski Jun 6, 2019 @ 4:46am 
Thank you!
janner66 Jun 5, 2019 @ 9:56pm 
Nice review. Voted up :)