Review: Bad Apple Wars (Contains Spoilers)

Bad Apple Wars: Spoiler-Filled-Review!

SPOILERS

You’ve been warned.

Don’t cry to me if you read this.

I’m not going to give a detailed play by play, but I’ll probably get close. I’ll try to avoid HUGE FEELS-FILLED moments, but you might be able to see them coming a mile away if you read this prior to playing the game.

I’m not heartless though, so the first section after this warning will be Short Summaries – What’s the guy’s personality like, Voice Actor, Big Triggery Things (if any), etc.

The section after the Short Summaries will be much more in-depth.

Let’s dive in, shall we?
Spoiler Free Guide
Short Version
:
Premise:
You’re dead and have gone to a school in the afterlife meant to scrub away your personality and prepare you for reincarnation. The Good Apples obediently follow the 108 rules (Reminds me of the 108 Stars of Destiny from the 14th century Chinese classical novel Shui Hu Zhuan – which I only know about because of Suikoden an older Playstation RPG) of the school, become “clean slates” and graduate into the next life. The Bad Apples break the rules, and as such never forget who they were. They rage against the machine of the school grounds and are trying to break the Unbreakable Rules in order to get Expelled. (The assumption being expulsion will let them go back to their original lives and try again.)

The Cast:
The Bad Apples:
Alma – The Quiet One. If Almost can convey a feeling or desire with a grunt, or single syllable, he’ll do just that. Understanding, patient, but everyone who’s at the school with you is dead, and Alma came here by his own hand. He doesn’t crack under a little pressure, but apply too much and he shatters. His weapon is a Red String that can also turn into a knife. (The Red String is a popular folk tale in Japan, I recommend googling it if you’re not familiar with it).

Kiga – Baka, Baka, Baka! Kiga’s far from quiet – he looks up to Alma and while not overtly respectful of others he still respects them. Gruff, quick to get irritated, he’s not patient, but he’s not mean either. His weapon is a baseball that explodes when he wants it to.

Shikishima – Mysterious, aloof, masked – Shikishima is an artist in a world that won’t let him paint with colors. He’s got an almost constant smile plastered on his face, but it’s so painfully shallow. Brush and book as his “weapons” though nothing he draws can hurt or detain anyone.

The Good Apples:
Satoru – Nose in a book studying. Literally. There’s no symbolism going on here, Satoru suffers punishment for rule-breaking and misunderstanding by the rest of the school because he won’t stop studying. The story behind it made me breath catch in my throat when it unfolded. He’s the only option younger than the protagonist (by a year-ish). They arrive together – which given their respective incidents were unrelated is pretty impressive.

White Mask – Here there be dragons. One of the game’s NPCs makes a remark that White Mask is an Edge Lord, and I don’t think truer words were spoken. This guy’s angst has angst. I appreciated the game for providing an acceptable reason behind all of it, but it is layered on thicker than stage makeup. It’s suggested he arrived at the school in the same manner as Alma, but to my knowledge the game doesn’t verify this.

Long Haul Review:
The only real choice this game gives you is deciding between the Good Apple Path and the Bad Apple path. The rest of your “choices” throughout the game come in two varieties: Either choosing who you’re going to go find when you’ve got down time (they’re color coded so it’s super easy), or Touch Mode.

Touch mode activates on most CGs that only include the protagonist and the current pursued guy. The first few are pretty straight forward, and there’s some clues in the story regarding where to avoid – but a guide doesn’t hurt. Just save when the CGs pop up though, and you can retry any scene to avoid “lightning”. Lightning when touching is how you get NEVAEH endings, and you don’t want those.

Well, if you’re looking for a Platinum trophy you do, but you get my drift.

The Good endings for this game will run the risk of tearing your heart out. The NEVAEH endings made me ugly cry on a couple occasions.

Now for some big spoilers:

Alma’s from about 10 years before the protagonist.
Kiga’s from about enough years before the protagonist to have been her dad.
Satoru’s from the same age – as stated before he’s at most a year younger.
White Mask is about the same age as the protagonist, maybe a year or two older.
Shikishima is from the beginning of the 1900s – prior to a cure for tuberculosis.

Some of you are probably putting two and two together at this point. Time’s some wibbly wobbly stuff in this game – aside from Satoru everyone’s been at the school for YEARS before the Protagonist shows up. As I can figure they arrived in roughly this order:

Alma, Kiga, Shikishima/White Mask, (substantial gap), Satoru/Protagonist.

The Protagonist is just starting High School when the game starts. It hits me how – after realizing I really like the character – Kiga’ll be like 30 years older than her if they both manage to get expelled. And Shikishima will be Long Dead.

The Good endings for these guys handle it well, I’ll admit. Still a little (lot) bittersweet, but still sweet. I’m not spoiling what happens, but if you like The Feels – you gonna FEEL them.

Especially with the soundtrack this game has going for it. Play it with headphones on, these tracks are worth the attention to detail. Half my crying was probably due to the well-paired music. Even the creepy parts were creepier thanks to the soundtrack for this. If I have one complaint about the soundtrack it’s that the most heart wrenching piece is NOT included on the internal soundtrack.

Still, it’s a song that happens in Every Route – so you can save at the start of it and re-listen whenever you want.

Closing Shop:
Overall I really enjoyed this game. I went in thinking I would struggle through it, so to be fair I was in the negative diving in. I’m not leaving you with the same starting point. I’d apologize, but I don’t think it’s a concern – if you like a lot of choices you’re not really going to jive with this game. If you love story over choices then this is your jam. Buckle up, because it’ll take you on a Ride.

Totally personal Pros and Cons:
Cons: Modern setting. Very stylized Art. Not a lot of variety in sprites. Weird AF at times. Semi-Con the romance is Very Light – It works for the story, so I didn’t legit mind it. I don’t usually go for heavy romance, but this was just a step more reserved than I like. Just barely missed that sweet spot.

Pros: Lots of CGs. Great personalities in the cast – nothing was spared even with the non-romantic characters. Ripped my heart out with Feels. Variants between the stories gave a lot of details into all parts of the total cast – non-romance options included.

Augh! – WHY COULDN’T THEY HAVE MADE NARAKA AN OPTION!? He was So Awesome!

Voice Actors: Behind the Voice Actors.

Review: Bad Apple Wars (Spoiler Free)

I wasn’t going to buy this game – as I do more reviews I’m sure folks’ll pick up on this, but I’m kind of stuck in my ways when it comes to art design for a game. I really am hopelessly stuck up about how something’s presented. It bothers me to some extent, because I know what it is to grow through art and such, and I feel like an ass that I can’t see past that and give a game a try.

BAW had a huge mark against it – from what I’d seen of the art it was far too stylized, and not my cuppa.

Boy. Gurl. — Whatever – look, I can’t be more happy to have given it a shot.

Tipping the Scales:
On a scale of 1 to 10 I give Bad Apples Wars a solid 7.
If you don’t change the protagonist’s name the voice acting will say it.

TL;DR:
The shortest of the short versions? It surprised me. I wasn’t expecting a story that was so… well, Weird in the first 15 minutes of game play to hold onto me. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be bawling like a baby at the end of it either.

Holy Shit the MUSIC y’all. (A great guide for this game can be found Here)

The Short of It:
The “common” route is 6 of the generally 9 chapters of this game. It is long, but there’s two versions of it, so it’s not so bad. You can Skip Read in this game, so once you get the details down, apply liberal use of this. Even within the repetitiveness of the first 6 chapters, each route is separated enough that you get different details and tidbits depending on who you’re focusing on.

While it might have only taken me a couple days to knock this game out (I read pretty fast), I played almost non-stop from Friday to Sunday. I easily sunk 20+ hours into the game, and since I wasn’t letting days go by between each route play through the details stuck with me, so once I had them down I could skip a lot. Even getting through it that fast, it was worth the full price tag of 40$.

The LONG of It:
There’s not really a preferred route order with this game, not as far as I could tell anyway. The story baseline stays pretty consistent with each play through – which, given the premise of the game – makes a Lot of Sense. BAW doesn’t give itself much wiggle room, but even with that said, the different endings of the available options were… oof. All of them were just Right in the Feels.

Alma, White Mask, and Satoru were the only ones, in my opinion to see a truly happy ending. Kiga comes in a close second, and Shikishima’s good ending was still just so bitter sweet.

I was surprised to find Kiga becoming my favorite of the ones available. Alma’s story is solid, and – as a rare treat – one of the very FEW “canon” routes I’ve actively enjoyed — due to the details provided in the ending for Alma I do recommend playing his route first. Given how he interacts with you in all the other routes I was entirely disinterested in Satoru’s route, and even though I’d planned to at most skim the entire thing I found myself pulled in anyway. White Mask’s route was more angst than I had anticipated, but I really loved the fact that it was well-founded. If I’da lived that kind of life I’m fairly sure I’da been a lot like that guy. Lastly, Shikishima caught my eye from the rip – he’s actually the reason I caved and gave the game a shot. I just loved the design of his character, and as an artist, I will admit to some bias.

Content Warnings:
For a Spoiler-Free review, that’s the most I have for you. There’s nothing that really jumps out at me that should be listed here. Be warned that you’ll get an in-depth look at the worst moments in these people’s lives – Everyone at the “School” is – technically – dead. And some of them got there in bad ways. There’s not a lot of details provided, and there’s no long prolonged discourse on the morality of any of it.

If anything, BAW’s overall views on life are… Good. Deep, thoughtful, and balanced. As I said at the beginning I was surprised.

Totally personal Pros and Cons:
Cons: Modern setting. Very stylized Art. Not a lot of variety in sprites. Weird AF at times. Semi-Con the romance is Very Light – It works for the story, so I didn’t legit mind it. I don’t usually go for heavy romance, but this was just a step more reserved than I like. Just barely missed that sweet spot.

Pros: Lots of CGs. Great personalities in the cast – nothing was spared even with the non-romantic characters. Ripped my heart out with Feels. Variants between the stories gave a lot of details into all parts of the total cast – non-romance options included.

Voice Actors: Behind the Voice Actors.

~ Quin