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Karifean's Blog of Visual Novels

Root Double Review

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Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- is a visual novel developed by Regista. After being successfully kickstarted in February, it was finally released on Steam on April 27th.


In the world of Root Double, telepathy is a scientifically proven phenomenon; there are people called 'Communicators' capable of sending and receiving messages via their brain, an ability dubbed 'Beyond Communication' or BC for short. Rokumei City is a town where Communicators make up a large percentage of the population; there are schools teaching BC and discrimination against Communicators is almost non-existant which is rare.

The plot of Root Double revolves around an unfortunate incident taking place on September 16th 2030. LABO, a massive research institute with a nuclear reactor located in Rokumei City, is in danger of experiencing a meltdown after suffering several explosions of unknown origin, so after a swift evacuation the building is completely locked down to prevent radiation from escaping the facilities. Unfortunately there are still people trapped inside. In addition to being stuck they also have to constantly fight fires breaking out all over the place and keep administering anti-radiation drugs of which they only possess a limited quantity.

Caught up in the incident are three rescue workers, an adolescent civilian, a LABO researcher, a teacher and three students of the local academy for Communicators. To make matters worse, when corpses of other researchers and rescue workers are discovered, the trust between the survivors slowly starts breaking apart...


Root Double initially gives you a selection between two completely distinct routes: √After and √Before. Only when both routes are cleared, the conclusion to the story is unlocked.

There are choices in Root Double, but rather than giving you a set of options you must instead make your choice through a system called "Senses Sympathy". With this system you can influence the confidence and affinity the protagonist feels towards other characters, and they will act accordingly.

There are a lot of bad ends, but fortunately the game is nice enough to mark critical choices in red color, giving you an opportunity to save before getting any unexpected Game Overs.


√After takes place during the incident itself. The protagonist is rescue squad captain Watase Kasasagi, a reliable man who is always level-headed and makes the rationally best decisions even in the most dangerous situations. ...or at least that's how his coworkers describe him, since the man himself has amnesia and does not recall who he or anyone else is or how he ended up in LABO in the first place.

Watase is found lying on the floor by his fellow rescue workers Kazami and Jun, who take the lead in the rescue effort given Watase's situation. They save a young girl called Yuuri and are soon joined by Ena, a teacher, and Ukita, a researcher. As they try to find more survivors as well as a way out their situation slowly becomes more and more dire.

√After is a pretty thrilling ride all the way through. These are people struggling to survive and there is hardly a dull moment. I strongly recommend reading it as your first route, since that means you know just as much about the world and situation as the amnesiac Watase which helps quite a bit with immersing yourself.


√Before opens up as Natsuhiko Tenkawa and his friends Mashiro and Salyu, all students at Rokumei Academy, enter LABO on the morning of the incident. When they hear explosions, they quickly rush further inside. As they run through the facilities, Natsuhiko goes through his memories of this past week, revealing how he ended up coming to LABO on this fateful day.

For the most part √Before is much more lighthearted than √After as the majority of the route is not spent in tense life or death situations but rather in watching peaceful days go by and observing how Natsuhiko opens up to other people and starts getting more comfortable with the idea of allowing change in his life. However, there is an underlying mystery that comes more and more into focus as you proceed through the story and the relaxed everyday life starts falling apart.

Overall, Root Double has a similar feel as other visual novels of the escape genre (Ever17, Zero Escape) but also puts its own unique spin on everything, making for a very entertaining and gripping ride. There were times when a twist caught me legitimately off guard and immediately all the disjointed pieces of the puzzle clicked into place and it all made sense. And while the plot does follow some tropes I'm not a big fan of, it does it pretty well and I never felt bored reading it. Plus everything that deals with the theme of 'self-sacrifice for the sake of others' from several different angles gets extra points from me.


Where Root Double really sets itself apart from its peers is in its great characters and character development. A common problem I have with escape visual novels is that the cast is unmemorable, but Root Double splendidly avoided this problem, and by the end of it I was pretty invested in seeing most of the characters make it out alive. Some of the bad endings where characters I loved end up dying actually hit me pretty hard.

Personally I preferred the adult characters a bit over the adolescent characters, though that's less because of a fault with the latter and more because seeing well-developed adult characters is more rare than I'd like it to be. The character development is spread nicely across all routes, with √After focusing on the adults, √Before focusing on the teenagers and the rest rounding everyone out. If there's one complaint I have it's that the girls in the cast revolve a little too much around Natsuhiko and feel a bit underdeveloped as a result, especially Mashiro, which was a bit of a shame; but it mostly just stands out because the others are all just that good.


The soundtrack is pretty good. There are a lot of different tracks for all kinds of situations as well as recognizable character themes and overall the music just sets the mood really well. Not to mention several tracks really stand out every time they do play. Nobody could forget the hype that comes with The Brave Decision playing during an important scene, or the heartbreak that comes with Memento Mori playing during the credit roll of one of the 'normal' endings.

Other tracks I really like are Pose the Question in this World as well as the instrumental version of Double Bible (the intro theme). But even the ones that don't stand out that much on their own beautifully complement the setting and story.


Root Double was a wonderful read. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it has everything I want out of a good visual novel. I very much appreciate the way it explores its own realistic albeit slightly fantastic setting and delves into the implications of these supernatural elements, exploring how they would affect the world and how society would view them, and it only helps that we get many different perspectives from all the different characters in the story.

Being directed by the same person who directed the Infinity series, there are of course similarities, but Root Double never falls into the trap into being a carbon copy of its spiritual predecessors and very much deserves to stand alongside them as an equal.

Overall I give Root Double a score of

8.5 / 10

I definitely recommend it to fans of Zero Escape, Ever17 or even Higurashi. It's worth your time. As far as I'm concerned, √After is the best starting point, although starting with √Before is also possible.

Updated 05-14-2016 at 01:41 PM by Karifean

Miscellaneous , Video Games