Root Film comes west early next year with a limited edition

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Kadokawa’s mystery adventure game Root Film will see a western release in the first quarter of 2021, publisher PQube announced today, with pre-orders for a limited edition now open.

Root Film is the sequel to Root Letter, and returns once again to Shimane Prefecture. A reboot of the mysteriously cancelled “Shimane Mystery Drama Project” TV show creates an exciting opportunity for 23-year-old film-maker Rintaro Yagumo, until location scouting gets interrupted by a horrible murder.

The story is written by Hifumi Kōno of Clock Tower fame. It looks like a darker tale than that of Root Letter—which was also a mystery adventure, but one very bedded in a dreamlike sense of nostalgia. Still, being based in Shimane Prefecture again means it should have that same sort of digital tourism appeal that the first game had.

Root Film combines visual novel storytelling with investigation game systems. With Max Mode, players can engage in a “fighting-game like face-off” with suspects, provided they’ve gathered enough evidence beforehand, and the new “zapping” mechanic lets players experience events from the perspectives of two different characters at the same time.

A Root Film Limited Edition is coming exclusively to Funstock. It comes with a copy of the game and a 100-page art book with “a curated blend of environmental scenery, detailed character illustrations and in-game captures”. It’s available to pre-order now, for both PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

A screenshot from Root Film showing Max Mode. Two characters are on-screen with Japanese dialogue by their portraits.

Root Film came out in Japan in July this year, where it met with a warm reception, including a 32/40 from Famitsu. Root Letter made its debut in 2016, delivering what I found to be a game that makes you “feel like you’re returning to a long lost childhood home – even if it’s somewhere you’ve never been.” Some of that magic was lost in Root Letter: Last Answer, which revamped the game with live-action scenes and photography, but it was an interesting experiment in blurring those lines between game and real life all the same.

I’m looking forward to seeing where Root Film lands when it comes to Switch and PS4 next year.

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Matthew is a writer based in Wellington. He loves all things pop culture, and is fascinated by its place in history and the wider social context.