Rinka is your typical high school girl. She goes through life, day after day, without too much care of what happens next. There is only one problem. On her way to school, she died. Now, needing to make heads or tails of this new world, she joins up with other students at Nevaeh Academy to find out what becomes of life after death and can they somehow return to their former lives? This is Bad Apple Wars.
If you succumb to the notion that all is meaningless and become a good apple and do as you are told, you lose all sense of your individuality, but get to graduate. There are, however, those who decide to not follow the rules as to not lose their individuality. These bad apples will do everything they can to get expelled. What exactly does it mean to graduate or be expelled? No one actually knows for sure. The weird thing regarding the students at Nevah is that they are souls that come from different places in time. Even more confusing is the order in which they arrived. Alma, the leader of the Bad Apples, has been there the longest and comes from a point in time close to the present. Another student, Shikishima, however, comes from the Taisho era of Japan, which is from the early 1900’s.
Bad Apple Wars is an otome visual novel. Otome games are geared towards girls and generally involve a romantic plot between a female main character and a male character. So from that, you could guess that the game is a story in which Rinka falls in love with some dudes. Bad Apple Wars is, however, not (really) a dating simulator, so guys don’t have to question their inner self on which of the guys are husbando material. The game itself is your standard visual novel. You start the game, read a story, make a selection here or there which alters the course of the story and rinse and repeat.
The game doesn’t have much in terms of interaction. In fact, it barely has any. Aside from making a choice near the beginning that decides which faction your story follows: the Prefects or the Bad Apples, the only interaction you make is selecting a location on the map, or as part of the game’s Soul Touch element. At certain points during the chapters, a CG image appears of whichever guy whose route you happen to be going through, and you touch it in random spots.
It is not as lewd as it sounds.
By touching a person, it is said that one can feel that person’s inner feelings and can possibly see glimpses into their life. By doing these sections, you see just who these guys were. Once you are in the home stretch of a particular route, the Soul Touch points add an additional mechanic to them. Now during these parts, if you touch a spot the guy does not like, you will see a set of blue cracks flash. Cause them to flash enough, and you will find yourself heading into bad or normal ending territory. Successfully passing these Soul Touch sections will guide you aon the path to unlocking that particular character’s epilogue. The Soul Touch portions, honestly, seem like they were added just to add a touch of interactivity to the game to make it a “game”. I honestly found the Soul Touch portions to be a bit clunky, for lack of a better word. While playing these areas, most of the time I never knew what I was doing or where I was supposed to touch. Each segment has a few areas you could touch a certain amount of times, after which you move on to the next area until the segment is complete. My problem was that I could not find some of the areas, so I often found myself tapping away on the Vita’s screen at random.
Storywise, the game as a whole, is merely decent. Maybe slightly better than decent. The writing strength does, however, vary from route to route. That isn’t to say they are terrible, but they could be better. One thing, that did bother me was the fact that some of the supporting cast did have better character development and emotional connection than that of the route’s main guys. Thankfully, the story itself is interesting enough that the difference in writing strength doesn’t negatively affect the game’s enjoyability. My main problem would be that Rinka doesn’t seem to have any development, she is just kind of there until she needs to save the day.
As someone who really enjoys visual novels, I enjoyed Bad Apple Wars a lot. Sure some of the different routes aren’t written as strongly as others, or the whole Soul Touch system came off as somewhat clunky. The story itself, as well as the characters, are interesting enough that you will actually want to play through every route and see everyone’s backstories. Yes, there isn’t much in the realm of “gameplay”, but it is definitely worth a read just as a story.