Developed by Arai Koh Create Office
Published by YOX-Project
Available for PC through Steam (reviewed), iOS, Android and Kindle Fire
Rated M for Mature
Never was there a tale of more woe than this of BAD END, and its… bad end. Unfortunately, there’s just no beating around the bush with this one. Visual novel games are incredibly hit or miss, and BAD END completely missed the barn and landed in the neighbor’s field. The game’s saving graces are its premise and dirt cheapness.
BAD END revolves around a notorious mobile game within the game called—yup—“BAD END.” Rumor has it, “BAD END” (that is the “BAD END” within Bad End, not the real Bad End) has deadly consequences for bad decisions. If a player gets a bad end, they bad end in real life! And by bad end, I mean die. Dun, dun, DUN!
So of course, BAD END’s story starts with a pair of high school students, Yuuji and Kyuuhei, who disbelieve the rumors and have been caught up in the hype. They relentlessly want to play “BAD END” themselves, but run into trouble getting it to install. When Yuuji miraculously gets the game to download after a multitude of attempts, it doesn’t take long to realize there might be something to these rumors. Needless to say, he dies of heart failure very soon into the narrative timeline.
Kyuuhei (the player character) decides to dedicate his foreseeable future to investigating the murder. He doesn’t believe his teenaged buddy with “no previous medical conditions” would just suddenly drop dead. As it turns out, he was right to be suspicious, because the sleuthing section of the plot reveals a number of cases of “BAD END” (and by bad end, I mean death).
It’s only as we get further into the plot do things take a sudden turn for the lame. Here be spoilers: Kyuuhei takes a serendipitous trip to a cafe with another friend of his and realizes that this same cafe is a location in “BAD END.” Not only is the cafe a real place, all the locations in “BAD END” are real! It doesn’t take him long to realize that the characters in the supposedly fictitious “BAD END” are real too. Main character Kouko is actually a real person! Through a bit more investigating, Kyuuhei discovers that Kouko’s best friend Kana is in a coma after an accident. Just before the accident, Kana thought Kouko was trying to steal her boyfriend. Like any stereotypical high school romance story, this all turns out to be a misunderstanding. Her boyfriend was actually meeting Kouko to ask for advice on his relationship with Kana. After an unfortunate encounter with a moving vehicle results in said coma, Kana’s wrath materializes as a shadowy demon. The demon chases Kouko until she suffers her own vehicular altercation, and subsequent coma.
This of course doesn’t assuage Kana’s rage, as she feels Kouko’s betrayal deserves much more than just an unending coma. Oh, no, she must also then create a game that is based on her life with her best friend that leads to players being killed. The players are lead to believe that Kouko is the one who killed them, so they seek vengeance on her comatose soul.
Still with us here? You’ve unfortunately read that completely right. BAD END is a game about an angsty teenaged girl who wrongfully believes her best friend has attempted to steal her boyfriend. So, she turns into an unstoppable shadowy people killing demon for the sole purpose of torturing her previous best friend. It’s really not even worth it to elaborate further on the rest of the ending since this plot twist is enough to make even the most hardcore visual novel fan jaded.
Let’s talk a little past the plot of BAD END (although that’s admittedly the most important reason to ever purchase a visual novel game). The art is incredibly standard, with the same few backgrounds recycled throughout the entire game. All of the character designs are detailed, like one would hope. The choices in the game are aimless at first. A great example is early on into playing “BAD END”, Kyuuhei must make a decision for Kouko while she’s running from the shadowy figure. He must decide whether she should turn left, right, or run straight forward down a street. There are literally no intelligent indications to help the player make their selection, so bad endings are left entirely up to chance.
As time goes on, the choices in the game become more evolved. No longer do you have to make guesses and leave things up to fate, you can actually make perceptive decisions. There are multiple endings to BAD END, which all great visual novel games should include. There is no voice acting, but considering the game is selling for $1.98 it would be silly to expect voice acting. As far as visual novel games go, this one is incredibly short. If playing for a reasonable amount of time, it might take two sittings at most. So if you’re looking for an involved story, BAD END will not deliver for you.
One other important thing to mention about BAD END is that there is a price difference for the game depending on what type of platform you prefer to buy it on. If you’re interested in purchasing it for a mobile platform, the game will only cost you $.99. Through Steam it’s slightly more, at $1.98. If you don’t have the space on your smartphone or tablet to download the game, or you’d prefer to play on PC, you might as well give BAD END a pass. It’s really hardly even worth it at a dollar a play. But hey, who are we to judge? It might just be a fun gift to pass on to friends who have done you wrong. Kana would approve!
And so, like BAD END itself, this review will be admittedly and depressingly short. The game started out strong, hooking you in with its meta game-within-a-game concept, and the mystery of players dying after failing. However, once it ventured into the mentally tormenting theme of teenage love and betrayal, BAD END started its own negative denouement.