A different kind of psychological horror
Mystery? Suspense? Thriller? These kinds of descriptions are apt for this cult Visual Novel from 2017 which finally made it’s way to us in English by PQube. The social game called Werewolf or Mafia inspires the story. There are a few differences though and much more dark in context. For one, its location is in a fictional Village in Japan and as the name implies there’s the addition of looping which changes a lot of things.
Is there any rational explanation for it? Why do people become murderers? Is there something otherworldly happening? What’s the truth of these events?
Raging Loop is like a mixture of known movies such as „Groundhog Day“, „Live, Die Repeat“, „The Thing” and a breath of “Shutter Island”.
It sounds promising, doesn’t it? But is it even possible to make it good?
A deadly experience… on repeat
Coming fresh from a break-up, Haruaki Fusaishi is on a trip into nowhere with his new trusted bike. Surrounded by nothing else except forest and mountains it becomes clear that he is lost. Fortunately, he’s able to find a local shop before he runs out of fuel with a single employee.
Since he’s lost, there's no better time to ask for directions than now and indeed he’s in luck. Equipped with the knowledge and directions a village being nearby he on his way to find an abode to sleep. Lucky! It’s time to get in gear and find that village though it comes with a caveat…
A strange place called Yasumizu
For whatever reason, the directions lead him off-road and into a Forest with barely any sight. You’re probably already guessing that there’s going to be an accident. That would be correct because he falls off a cliff leading to a busted bike and soreness from the fall. With whatever strength left, he wanders off to find help. This leads him into a forest and a river where he meets Chiemi Serizawa a local who just returned from outside.
Fortunately, she’s offering him some respite and invites him into her flat. Despite whatever expectations you might have, nothing was happening except talking and some excessive drinking. After an eventful night, he takes off to find out what kind of place Yasumizu is. It soon becomes clear that this isn’t one of your run of the mill villages. The first thing he notices are some kind of strange customs as well as strange location overall with a lot of grass growing beyond your usual rural area. It also becomes apparent, that this is a very small village with a small population, on top of that they aren’t really happy with an outsider accidentally appearing either. While all of this sounds less than appealing, the worst is yet to come…
A horrifying scream in the night
Despite the villagers helping him to salvage the bike and his best efforts to repair it, prove to be for naught. Fog is appearing and Chiemi looks for some reason extremely uncomfortable as there is something lying in wait to happen. The evening is here and in a panic she leads him to a toilet shed with a warning to keep the door closed until morning no matter what is happening.
It really doesn’t sound too hot. The shed stinks and barely has any place, the only good thing about it is that he doesn’t have claustrophobia. Even worse, he hears a horrifying scream and if there’s one thing that is stronger than the fear of death it’s the curiosity that kills the cat.
What’s even more shocking is what he’s seeing. A three-eyed werewolf and then the next thing that awaits him was certain death. Game Over. Or is it?
Back again for a macabre game
For unknown reasons, Haruaki is finding himself at the beginning of our story. What’s more interesting is the fact that everything is happening once again! Equipped with the knowledge of his prior try, he decides to stay inside and tough it out and it works!
After weathering the deadly storm, new details arise. What’s currently happening is the Feast of the Yomi Purge. An extreme macabre custom that says when the Fog comes, then Wolves will appear amidst the people. The rule says that every day they will kill a single person. This is also the reason why the people have to counter it by hanging someone they suspect to be a Wolf. Each side, one murder a day.
The humans aren’t without help though. Supposedly, the guardians are offering their special skills for this event. The snake can find out whether a specific person is a Human or Wolf per night. Two monkeys know of each other. The spider can designate protection for a single person. Finally, there’s the crow who verifies whether the hanged person was a human or wolf.
Additional rules are that people have to return to their abodes, clean themselves and sleep. Anybody who violates it will face the corruption and die a grim death. And thus the real story begins.
The story of Yasumizu
But where does all of this originate? What’s the story behind these customs? Why is it happening?
Well, there’s a story going around there that are continuously told. A long time ago the Yomi, some kind of underworld, we're creeping up to the land of the living. To help the humans, the guardians consisting of a wolf, two monkeys, a spider, a snake, and a crow are there to protect them. The wolf, on the other hand, is known for its heavy-handed brutal ways and therefore the humans asked for the other guardian's support to get rid of the Wolf.
This indeed did happen, at night when the wolf was asleep he got thrown into the river never to be seen again… or does it? Prosperity came afterward, though it came with an unexpected cost.
The vengeful wolf switched sides to the Yomi and comes back every now and then to terrorize the humans. According to the story, it hides within the human populace to fulfill his revenge by killing them all.
Haruaki Fusaishi, not a hero
A student from Tokyo and is the player's agent. You’ll be experiencing the majority of the story through his eyes and thoughts.
He’s not your average naïve protagonist. Instead, he walks a thin line between good and evil by putting his own interests first. Rational and calculative are his distinct traits, which makes the thought of him being on the opponent's side even more worrying since only very few are capable of standing on toe to toe with him.
He’s certainly nowhere close to being perfect because from the very beginning you can see his stubbornness and curiosity getting the better of him. Despite his goal is finding the optimal solution, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s doing it out of goodness of his heart. This is just another tick of him to find the perfect solution.
Every failure he meets brings him closer to the truth. He doesn’t falter and moves forward with a possibly even inhuman determination.
The dwellers of Yasumizu
All of them except the two journalists, the lost child Meiko and Haruaki are locals or a returning local like Chiemi. All of them can’t be more different which leads to a wide variety of interactions. Some belief in superstitions while others do not. You’ll find all kinds of ages too! Teens, middle-aged or even old ones like Tae-baa. From their differences and interests you can see groups forming like between young and old.
It soon becomes apparent that this a deadly social game, making people pit against each other and trying to find oddities. Some might even their hidden darkness when cornered.
Most of the characters have their own background stories. Some deeper than the others. Together with Haruaki, they build a strong core of Raging Loops story.
You’ll get to know them better along the way and sometimes, you might even realize that the first impression wasn’t that what it chalks up to be!
Interim Story impressions
Due to Raging Loop being a VN, it’s obvious that the story is the centerpiece. After taking the time to experience it, I can concur with the fans of it.
This particular mix of genres will always keep you on your toes by making you thinking of all the possibilities of what’s really happening. Is it something supernatural? Maybe it’s something like Sherlock’s “Hound of Baskerville” consisting simply of technology and chemicals? Is it even real?
Many questions and assumptions will pop up which makes the process of solving the event even more interesting. It also moves at a steady pace and with each loop new variations and branches are getting unlocked. Sometimes a small action can vastly change the outcome of what comes next.
The desperate search for the enemy within also proves to be extremely exciting, especially when you realize that something doesn’t add up in comparison to a prior loop.
All of the characters play a major role and seeing them slowly but surely falling into a desperate situation will keep you at the edge of your seat, especially when you’re investing in them.
The only thing that might be a little bit off is the later parts that pick up the speed on an extreme scale because things become more and more apparent leading to fast-paced but heavy segments. That’s all I’m going to say as the best thing about Raging Loop is the unknown.
Gameplay & Controls
It’s a VN as such you’ll spend most of your time reading BUT it does have a few interesting mechanics. Aside from making choices and jumping around in the story, you won’t have to do too much.
The Loop Gameplay
This mechanic plays into the looping story. In the beginning, you won’t have many choices and most of the time you’ll get keys to unlock other corresponding decisions at some other point. All the keys are memories of a past loop by carrying it over Haruaki will be able to make a different informed choice. Your first death is inevitable but after dying once, you’ll be able to avoid your early end.
With new information, you’ll see things in a new light! Don’t worry about wasting your time to find and grind the right places because the developers have included an incredible system to make your life easier and the game much more of a delight to play.
The Scenario Chart
Maybe you’ve already played Detroit: Become Human and have seen the scenario chart of it. Well, Raging Loop has it as well and it works wonders at keeping the pacing snappy! At any point in time, you can call up the Scenario Chart and jump around within the story. Not sure, where to jump? Keys, locks, branches are separated into chapters making it easy to navigate.
Once you’ve gotten a taste of this system you’d wish that many others would have it too. Especially when they are at least as big as Raging Loop with about 20 hours or even more.
Replayability through Revelation Function
After finishing it for the first time you’ll be able to turn on the Revelation Function. This neat little thing unlocks additional scenes and text within the story by showing the other characters' perspective. Ever wondered what one of the characters is thinking? With this you get some extra playtime and deeper look into them and what is happening outside of your view.
There are also epilogues, so don’t think it’s over once you’ve finished the main story!
Graphics & Sound
The game consists of drawn Artworks like many other VNs. All characters have distinctive looks that fit into their character. Couple that with the writing and Japanese voice acting and you get a good feel on who they are.
The backgrounds are doing a tremendous job in showing the bizarre backwater village, which adds fuel to the terrible events happening there.
If you don’t like graphic violence then I have some good news for you! All of them are pictured in a crude silhouette while the text delivers grim circumstances.
It got it down visually but what about the auditory senses? It’s very good and adds a lot to what you experience on the screen. Be it rural, tension, etc. it nails it. When the Haruaki starts to unravel or think you hear that you’re moving forward.
As mentioned before, the Japanese dub is as good as you can expect it to be.
- Well written characters and story that grips you till the end
- Budget Pricing
- Pacing is a little bit too fast at the end
Raging Loop is a unique one of a kind within the Visual Novel genre. Despite the doubts due to it being a psychological horror, it's proven to be one of the best game releases of the year.
It's so much more than psychological horror. Suspense, Mystery, Thriller are also major factors that made the game a treat.
The characters and lore are getting much exposition, leading to much investment and making it one hell of a ride.
Considering the budget price of 29,99€, there’s not much I can say against it. If you’re interested in any of the mentioned types of the genre then this is the game you should keep an eye on. When it comes to VNs, I consider it to be a must-have.