Raging Loop is a psychological thriller visual novel created by Kemco and published by PQube, and what a fantastic VN it is. Suspense, paranoia, and supernatural creatures – you can find all of that here in this particularly chilling story. As the university graduate Haruaki Fusaishi, you find yourself stumbling into a mysterious village hidden in the forest and surrounded by fog. Separated from civilization, Yasumizu is one big mystery that only Karukai can solve.
Werewolves are haunting the village, and have been for years. According to the superstitious denizens, these wolves were once guardians that were betrayed by the townsfolk many years ago. Every night, a thick fog encapsulates the area, and the wolves set off to kill. The worst thing is that by day, they resemble humans. Every day, the natives take part in The Feast, where they vote on whom they suspect may be a deity in disguise in order to hang them. Each person has a guardian power that they’re not too keen on revealing, lest they’re targeted. The Snake can deduce who is a human or wolf each morning, while The Spider can protect a person from the wolf once a day. The two Monkeys know each other’s identity, while he Crow knows if a corpse belongs to a wolf or human.
After the first Feast, you die a gruesome death…yep, you read that right. Didn’t expect that, did you? Thankfully, the informative in-game tutorials shed a bit of light on your first game over. It turns out that dying is not the end, far from it. In fact, you can go back and pick different choices to see if you get any further. It’s almost as if it’s embracing the ability to load back save states in a visual novel, only with a few twists. For one thing, Haruaki vaguely remembers each demise, and can use this to his advantage in order to deduce clues.
On top of that, some endings will offer you a numbered key. New paths can be unlocked with these keys in order to branch out the story out even further. What’s really handy is that each event is detailed in a scenario flow chart, perfect for revisiting events or re-experiencing previous discussions. Luckily, after dying once, you won’t need to force yourself to go through the entirety of the game again, which is a real life-saver (no pun intended…or was it?).
There’s an intriguing cast of characters in this one. While most characters may seem fairly sour or mysterious, as the game progresses further and tensions arise, they begin to show a lot more depth. Haruaki may seem like a pretty run-of-the-mill protagonist who is always pondering and rambling to himself in his mind, but eventually he becomes a lot more jokey and sarcastic when he replays past events in order to change them up. It does lighten up the mood in what is an atmospheric and unsettling game, but it’s never enough to sour the experience. Anything but. Generally speaking, the writing is engaging and gripping, though the first act of the game feels awfully bloated, meaning it’ll feel like a fair but of a while until you reach the meatier parts of the narrative.
Fret not, though, as this visual novel is a hefty package. There’s already enough longevity and replayability in the core game mode along, but packaged alongside is the unlockable ‘Revelation Mode’, which adds a new spin to it. Now, the inner thoughts of each character are revealed to you. Nifty stuff.
It’s a bit disappointing to see that the game tends to rely on silhouettes of violence and gore when it could’ve used more explicit images. It also relies on recycling a lot of the same backdrops at times, or simply uses a black background with a shining light. Thing is, the artwork and backgrounds are otherwise really well done. Characters have detailed and distinctive looks to help set them apart from one another, while the set pieces are very colourful and of high quality. The soundtrack is fairly limited, with only a handful of tracks being used, since it often relies on pure silence for some tense scenes and sudden pivotal events.
If you’re after a spookshow of a visual novel with a big emphasis on longevity and replayability, look no further than Raging Loop. The chilling atmosphere and excellent writing more than makes up for the lack of explicit violence. It’s a trial-and-error sort of game, and thanks to the handy flowchart and the demand for keys to make certain choices, it’s entirely possible to experiment, even if it means resulting in an early death. That being said, it’ll take a fair bit of time to get into the meat of the game, with even more tenseness to enjoy after the third act as well. Regardless, this visual novel is a thrilling spookshow that’s bound to keep you on the edge of your seat.