A new, excellent visual novel challenger has arrived.
What They Say:
Raging Loop tells the ghastly story of a cursed settlement in the Japanese forest. As part of an ancient tradition, an ominous fog confines the village as animal godlike creatures possess the inhabitants and force them into a perverse mind game. Every night, the person controlled by the wolf guardian leaves a corpse behind and every day, the villagers gather to select a suspect to be hanged, in the hope of them being the killer.
If you’ve read any of my visual novel reviews, you’ve likely already seen me lament the fact that series like Zero Escape and Danganronpa are all but done at this point. And in the wake of their endings, there hasn’t been much, if anything, that has attempted to truly fill the gaps there with a satisfying death game.
Well, until now, that is. Raging Loop excels at taking the tried and true death game formula, putting its own unique twist on it, and capping it off with a solid cast that is easy to get to know. It all starts with the main character Haruaki who goes on a motorcycle trip after breaking up with his girlfriend and finds himself lost.
He ends up at the village of Yasumizu where the population is just around a dozen or so in total, and gets swept up in the Feast of Yomi-Purge after a mist barrier appears. Propelled by a religious and supernatural event, this “Feast” is more like a death game that is akin to what you might know as Mafia or Werewolf.
The premise is a rather complex one for a death game like this: each of the 16 participants are assigned a position from the wolves who are the killers to the snake who is able to find out who the killers are to the spider is able to protect someone from dying.
Each night, the wolves get to kill one person and each day, the humans get to select one person to hang, hopefully, a wolf. The game ends when all of the wolves or all of the humans are dead. It is all rather complex and it does take a bit to really understand what the game is like but the complexity actually creates layer upon layer of excitement, horror, and tension.
Raging Loop is a game that is far more political, deep, and religious than any other death game like this. The gameplay plays out with the player going through each day of the game, making decisions throughout that will either end up with a game over or continue through the story.
Throughout the lengthy story of Raging Loop, you are going to experience a ton of game overs and bad endings for Haruaki and the rest of the cast. This is one game that features a flowchart like the Zero Escape series where sometimes you need to get a bad ending to learn something for another route.
The actual game itself is surprisingly terrifying at times. This is one visual novel that actually takes full advantage of the horror aspect of death games more than any other. You’ll see characters go crazy a la Danganronpa but there is always an element of unease as you play through even in the mundane moments. I’ll even be one to admit that it gave me a few nightmares due to playing it right before bed.
Even as a not huge fan of horror, I found Raging Loop to scratch that intense itch for a spooky death game that I didn’t realize I’d been wanting. Gameplay-wise, this is one game that you aren’t going to do much in unlike AI: The Somnium Files recently, as your interactions are reading, making choices, and moving through the flowchart.
This is also in large part due to the superb writing that Kemco and the localization team at PQube crafted. I’ll be the first to say that Raging Loop isn’t the best-looking game. At first, it reminded me of the game Killer Queen (the visual novel; not the upcoming arcade for Switch) in that it looks just a tad bit better but is still something that feels very indie-like.
What surprised me, though, is that looks can be deceiving because Raging Loop is, for the most part, one of the best visual novels I have ever played. It easily rivals Danganronpa, Zero Escape, Kara no Shoujo, and many other mature novels like this.
Though it certainly has a ton of funny moments sprinkled throughout, Raging Loop takes full advantage of the seriousness of it all. While it does refrain from ever getting gory, it does deal with some intense elements that are elevated by the strong writing.
This is enhanced by the impressive cast that was one of the easiest to memorize and get to know. It all starts with Haruaki himself who takes full ownership over the story more than just about any other visual novel protagonist I’ve ever seen. This is no cookie cutter, blank hero for you to project yourself onto at all.
From there, it extends to the rest of the cast who is full of plenty of standouts. There is the love interest of sorts Chiemi who seems goofy and an outsider of sorts in this small village but there is more to than meets the eye, the hilarious and genius young boy Mocchi, and terrifying but equally ridiculous old man who literally doesn’t have a real name.
And that’s just a handful of the well over a dozen characters with many who remain in my mind as some of my favorites. Though there are a couple who don’t get as much time dedicated to them as I would have liked like the mom who runs the food center, the vast majority of the cast has an impressive amount of time and attention given to them.
As for the story itself, it is one that stunned me with how amazing it was. Unfortunately, talking much more about it would get into spoilers but know that this is a game that will fill that niche that has been void for too long now for a new death game.
My main issue with Raging Loop that stops it from reaching the masterpiece potential it has is the final section of the game. The whole story provides insight into a complicated and supernatural-fueled plot that does have a resolution that is passable but does lack a lot of the love that was put into everything before it.
Getting more into it would spoil things but know that the final portion of the story does feel like a letdown compared to the consistently wonderful storyline leading up to it. It gets the job done but it would have been nicer to see the game appreciate more what got it there. Thankfully, though, this is only the last hour or two of the game.
While that may seem like a lot for a visual novel, it isn’t in the case of Raging Loop. This game has been touted as a rather long game but, quite frankly, plenty of similar games have been called that but only lasted a few hours for me.
However, Raging Loop really is extremely long. I won’t get into too many details with the specifics of the endings, routes, and so on but it certainly will keep you busy for a good long while. This actually helps to soften the blow of the less than stellar resolution because you get so much time beforehand with the great characters and terrific death game.
Raging Loop is here to fill the void that was left behind by death game series like Danganronpa and Zero Escape. I was so surprised by this seemingly indie-like visual novel that doesn’t look that great compared to others but is filled to the brim with a powerful story, riveting death game, deep and complex writing, and unbelievably memorable cast.
If you’ve been searching for a spooky story to keep you cozy in this fall and wintry time, this is the one for you. While it does have a just okay resolution, the rest of the package comes together to have Raging Loop stand among the greats as one of the best visual novels of all-time.
Age Rating: 17+
Release Date: October 22, 2019
Platform: Switch (reviewed), PS4, PC
This review was done with a review copy provided by the publisher. We are grateful for their continued support.