Muv-Luv (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 29.12.2016

Review for Muv-Luv on PC

Visual novels are a mixed bunch, at best; easy to churn out, meaning the market is easily flooded with a bunch of low-end titles that hold no water. Every once in a while, though, one manages to stand out. Muv-Luv is an interesting case in the genre because it's not just one story. No, it's actually two different stories and that's what actually sets it apart. Such an approach is rare in games and even media in general. Rarely do situations like this pop up at all. However, Muv-Luv went and tried to pull it off and, by golly, it succeeded! It's a bit hard to explain, though. Let's give it a try…

There are two actual titles in this one 'game,' which makes Muv-Luv hard to review. Originally, one was meant to be played and cleared before the second one even unlocked, but that's been changed in the Steam release. The concept was simple but relatively genius. In the first story, the main character is put into what seems like a standard visual novel with few real deviations. There are two likely love interests, with a few others that can be pursued, wacky characters, a school-based setting, and so on. So much of it seems like stock, rather cliché, but not actually 'bad.' In fact, it's fairly well-written and enjoyable, if obvious.

Screenshot for Muv-Luv on PC

That is where the trick comes in. With that sort of thought and expectation, gamers are supposed to progress onto the second game, which, at first, seems to follow in the footsteps of the former for all of two minutes before it's clear that things have drastically changed. Now, despite being little more than a standard high school visual novel protagonist, he's suddenly thrust into an alternate version of Earth where not only has history played out differently but the world is stuck repelling alien invaders in a setting much closer to the dark sci-fi stuff like Starship Troopers than a cheesy romance novel. It's actually quite genius, roughly akin to taking Luke Skywalker from the end of Return of the Jedi and putting him back on the moisture farm in A New Hope, except with the twist of the Confederacy having won the war in the Star Wars prequels instead of the Republic. Hmm… That's actually a pretty good movie idea.

Screenshot for Muv-Luv on PC

Anyway, as expected, the main draw is not its gameplay (which is pretty obvious) or its artwork (usually), but its story… and, well, it works wonderfully. The problem is really delving into it while both showing why it works without becoming too overly detailed. In the first story, where things are meant to be obvious, the story is pretty straightforward. Childhood love interest, waking up in bed with mysterious and eccentric girl, tons of whacky hi-jinks - it seems quite rudimentary. However, then the second story comes in. The childhood friend doesn't even exist, and much of what seemed innocent, or even fun, is suddenly darker and grim in a setting that seems really bleak. The contrast is what makes the story work beautifully.

Screenshot for Muv-Luv on PC

It has its shortcomings, though, in its greatest strength, ironically. Simply put, in order to get why Muv-Luv is even good, both games must be worked through. Even if they were six-hour titles, this is still an annoying wall, especially with the multiple character routes to see its differing endings. Some may see this as a positive but it can also feel a bit way-laying. Woe to those who play the second game first, as well, as they will struggle to grasp what is going on. While being able to play either from the get-go is a good thing, the clear expectation of having played one first will hamper some.

Screenshot for Muv-Luv on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

As a book, Muv-Luv is fairly solid, with a decent idea and capable writers backing it up. It doesn't reach its full conclusion, but that's because there is a third game waiting in the wings, and the provided endings are just fine. About the only 'real' complaint that can be had is that its dual-story style can end up feeling needlessly taxing at times, resulting in irritation instead of enjoyment.

Developer

ixtl

Publisher

Degica

Genre

Visual Novel

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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