BAD END is the first game on Steam by the Japanese studio Arai Koh Create Office published back in 2015, where it quickly became a Very Positive title.
In BAD END we take a concept that has been previously explored in movies and TV Shows, but rarely seen in Visual Novels. Best friends Kyuuhei and Yuuji have known each other for over 10 years, but recently Yuuji is focused on playing BAD END, a video game that recently made waves across the Internet due to deadly rumours circulating around it. According to the online opinion, those who die in the game, also die in real life.
When Yuuji finally finds a way to download the game app on his phone, his life is suddenly taken away. Cause of death? Heart failure! Strange as is seems, Kyuuhei decides to dive into the world of BAD END himself, to discover the truth. The mobile game takes him to a Visual Novel where two girls from highschool fight to survive from a strange demonic shadow.
Storywise the game puts players between horror and the psychological side of classic Japanese grudges. It’s not gory per say, but rather thrilling and pushes the mystery alongside the narrative. The plot develops at a nice pace and it’s likewise well produced. BAD END might be predictable midway through the end, but still delivers some nice unexpected events!
The gameplay of BAD END is pretty much your traditional Visual Novel with multiple endings. The idea is to go through the mobile game without dying and each decision counts towards one step closer to the truth. Players can always save the game as decision paths come along, and since each ending unlocks an achievement, it’s relatively easy to keep track of them.
In my opinion, it’s much more fun to play blindly and try to survive. The game tolerates one death, but the second shall be your end. For those who aim at their best, the game also registers your very first playthrough in order to assign players with a rating. The longer you survive, the higher the rank will be. It’s a nice addition for those aiming for the challenge.
Visually, the game presents a nice mix between anime-based renders and 3D generated backgrounds. The characters are well drawn, with nice details and quite the attention to their expressions. The backgrounds have a nice structure and the 3D option delivers the perfect opportunity to use special colors to emphasize the horror effects.
Special scenes are delivered with dedicated drawings depicting the scene with an amazing art direction. Almost worthy of an anime show. Unfortunately theses scenes are rare and short, and I would like to have seen more of them as they would greatly increase the production value. Although none of the renders are interactive the overall presentation is quite dynamic and appealing.
When comes to optimization BAD END offers Full Screen mode and Windowed. When in Windowed mode the default resolution is 720p, and on contrary to other games / engines, it’s not possible to customize the size the resolution. Full Screen mode might upscale, but for those playing at 1080p and higher the quality will remain pretty decent.
The Soundtrack shows tremendous potential, avoiding generic electronic music, or any orchestral type of genre that’s so common amongst other games. Instead, players can appreciate some mystic guitar chords with intense vibrating waves of ambient and special effects. Too bad they become repetitive, otherwise the music would be another high selling point.
BAD END is a 5 hour long Visual Novel where choices have intense results. It’s not extremely violent, but still delivers thrilling moments. A good mystery horror for Halloween, one that might even surprise you positively, especially if purchased during a special sale.