Levy 6 here. I’m in position with Levy 9. Waiting for further commands…
You are Satoru Arihara. Student at Day and Secret Agent at night. With the help of your little sister, you carry out secret missions for the SFD. A secret organization of the government to protect and support astrals. Astrals are humans with different kinds of superhuman abilities. Some can physically enhance their body or are able to control water to some degree. Obviously, not everybody is a fan of astrals. Many actively despise them. Abuse and bullying are a part of their daily lives as astrals. That’s why an organization like the SFD exists.
Their latest mission takes the siblings to a newly built school that wants to study astrals and their phenomenon. Astrals, as well as non Astrals, visit this school, which now has two new students. But during one of the missions, not everything goes to plan, and Satoru has to find an excuse why he’s out after curfew. And that’s his start into an interesting story.
Riddle Joker is the latest Visual Novel which got published by NekoNyan. Originally developed by Yuzusoft in 2018 it’s now available in English.
The story to Riddle Joker starts off really strong and gradually tells you more and more about Satoru and his Sister, about their past and their role in the SFD. While it starts off mysterious you quickly get to know about the struggles of being an SFD Agent as a Highschool Student. Those struggles reach their height on the respective routes. Overall there are 5 routes of which I would only count 4, which I will get to later on.
Not surprisingly one of the routes includes your sister Nanami. Well to be more specific step-sister. Since both of you are astrals that were subject to a lot of abuse, your now father decided to adopt you two. As time went on, you and Nanami grew closer and closer, even working together
in the same secret organization. While your own powers include the ability to enhance your senses and strengthen them your sister can heal many different kinds of injuries. Nanami grew to be a sweet and caring sister that wakes her brother in the morning and deals with all the household chores. Now you are living with her in the same dorm, working on missions together, and surviving daily school life.
The next heroine would be Ayase Mitsukasa.
Student president and poster girl. She’s gotten somewhat famous over the internet, which leads to her being the front girl of the school. Interviews and paper appearances are on the daily routine. On the surface, she seems to be a cheerful and happy girl. After getting to know her closer you start to suspect that there may be more to her than meets the eye.
Continuing with the next girl, Hazuki Nijouin. She is the dorm manager and because of that really strict with the rules. She never misses to remind anyone to fill out the right forms if they want to leave campus or to reprimand people that broke the rules. If she’s not in her dorm manager mindset she’s mostly just a somewhat shy and reserved girl that can’t get her head out of the gutter most of the time.
But of course, your past wouldn’t be the past if there wasn’t somebody to remind you about it. This is where the next girl Mayu Shikibe comes into play. You can’t seem to pinpoint where you met her before, if at all. Mayu calls herself onee-sama since she’s repeating her last year for the third time now for reasons unknown to you. She’s a highly respected researcher for the school and has got her own lab with different perks.
The last girl would be Chisaki Mibu. A good friend of your sister. Always in a cheerful and bubbly mood. She’s the only non-astral in your friend group.
As you may see from the description of Chisaki, there isn’t a whole lot to her. I kept thinking about what makes her special, what we got to know about her but failed to come up with anything on the spot. Her route is just short. It almost feels as if somebody realized that they forgot about her route and had to make up something, anything. Or as if they realized that they could give her her own route. The end result is that her route is incredibly short. The route ends after you decide to go on a date somewhere and then you just talk about the future and that’s it. No story continuation, not much background info to her. I was really dumbstruck when her route ended so suddenly.
While the routes of Nanami and Mayu continue with a great and exciting story that was absolutely thrilling to read and experience, Chisakis route looks like a dumpster compared to them. It’s really sad since Chisaki was one of the girls I was excited about. But I should have gotten the hint after she doesn’t even appear on the title screen.
The overarching story is really captivating and drives the plot forward. There is always some new mission to handle or a conflict to resolve. The whole continuation of the story felt really natural and never in any way forced or out of place.
I have to highlight Mayu’s Route here. I would classify this as the true route since the story revolves around the school and the research center.
It’s one of the longest, if not the longest route, and you get a small visualized film after the epilogue. The conflict of their relationship is beautifully written and really drives their character development onward.
Overall no route, besides Chisakis, was not worth playing. Each and every route had its own charm and the personality of the girls shined through in a lot of places.
The backgrounds were fine. Nothing huge or special there but still each time perfectly fitting the scene. The same goes for the background music. There was nothing you wouldn’t expect in a Visual Novel. I’m sure one or two songs will stick with you for some time, or you will recall a specific scene when hearing that song. There wasn’t a small number of songs as well so you always had some variation in the songs.
The game offers some great quality of life improvements over other visual novels. I think most worth mentioning is the flowchart option. On the flowchart, you can see every decision and where it leads to. This made choosing a route much easier and accessible since you were able to see instantly which decision lead to which route. You didn’t need to replay stuff that you already read, making the process of choosing a different route much less time-consuming. In general, the UI was well thought out and pleasant to navigate. If you saved the game and closed it would ask if you wanted to resume at the same position, or you were able to easily save voice lines. Right-click instantly gave you a clear view of the BG, while holding the right click button gave you quick options to save and skip. Everything was just so intuitive to use and navigate. I really wish more Visual Novels would implement those features.
As per usual NekoNyan offers a free, easy to install, patch for Steam Users. If you don’t get this patch you are missing out on a lot. The readded scenes feel different for each heroine and only add to the experience in a positive way. I highly recommend taking the time to install it.
Overall Riddle Joker is a great Visual Novel with only one route being somewhat of a letdown. It never feels as if the story is slowing down or stalling for time. The heroines feel different, with each having their own personality. I would gladly pay the full price again for such an experience.