Muv-Luv Alternative (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 28.06.2018 2

Review for Muv-Luv Alternative on PC

When it comes to visual novels, Muv-Luv has shown itself to be almost akin to a nice wine. The original two games had a fairly unique premise that they spent quite a bit of time setting up. What would happen if you took the star of a generic, if well-written, high-school visual novel and slapped him in a gritty sci-fi world? Taking its first entry to establish the former, then the second game to get really going, the second ended on a bit of a downer. The protagonist and their lover had been split apart with one travelling with the last remaining bits of humanity to a new world and the other fighting to the bitter end on Earth against the invading BETA aliens. Then things changed.

Waking up in his bed, it seems like he's right back where he started at the end of the second title; except he remembers everything this time. The choices, decisions, and outcomes that led to the conclusion of the second game are now firmly in his memory and even his body is in prime condition. Now it's time to change the future!

Don't think it will be easy, though. Despite knowing in advance what some of the outcomes will be, and a potentially better world as a result, the game is still very well written and part of that means it knows how to shake things up. Just because things can get better doesn't mean that it's also not, somehow, unwilling to slap you in the face. Hard. Things can get dark just like they did before with similar outcomes and impacts like before.

When it comes to visual novels, Muv-Luv has shown itself to be almost akin to a nice wine. The original two games had a fairly unique premise that they spent quite a bit of time setting up. What would happen if you took the star of a generic, if well-written, high-school visual novel and slapped him in a gritty sci-fi world? Taking its first entry to establish the former, then the second game to get really going, the second ended on a bit of a downer. The protagonist and their lover had been split apart with one travelling with the last remaining bits of humanity to a new world and the other fighting to the bitter end on Earth against the invading BETA aliens. Then things changed.

Screenshot for Muv-Luv Alternative on PC

Waking up in his bed, it seems like he's right back where he started at the end of the second title; except he remembers everything this time. The choices, decisions, and outcomes that led to the conclusion of the second game are now firmly in his memory and even his body is in prime condition. Now it's time to change the future!

Don't think it will be easy, though. Despite knowing in advance what some of the outcomes will be, and a potentially better world as a result, the game is still very well written and part of that means it knows how to shake things up. Just because things can get better doesn't mean that it's also not, somehow, unwilling to slap you in the face. Hard. Things can get dark just like they did before with similar outcomes and impacts like before.

Screenshot for Muv-Luv Alternative on PC

The problem is, however, that actually explaining what happens and why it's effective isn't easy in the context of a review attempting to avoid spoilers. Does a character die? Does a character not die? Saying so would spoil things. However, the quality writing is back in full force and it's more than willing to use said full force to throw twists and loops about.

Well… That's not quite a good enough explanation. The problem with many a visual novel, the problem that this series has managed to avoid, is that they can often fail to elicit any form of emotion due to a detachment from the characters, as well as a general sense of apathy due to a lack of actual control. While this may be fine for a film or actual novel, this is not acceptable for a videogame, even a visual novel. However, Muv-Luv has managed to avoid this due to its build-up over a period of three games. This transforms it from being just a quick one-off paperback to being a very well developed trilogy; hence why so much of it works. With the third part in place, many of the relationships and plot-lines that were developed in the prior two entries can be woven together to elicit such connections on a level simply not replicable in a single novel.

Screenshot for Muv-Luv Alternative on PC

With the third entry in the series, this weave is in full-on force. Players are well-connected to the characters, well-informed as to the stakes, and carry within them a set of desires and expectations that can be fully realised by the plot of this game. This allows the game to do what few other novels can manage to do and take the player by the heartstrings and proceed to both yank and guide them along through both its ups and downs. As such, it is hard to consider this truly a review of Alternative but of the entire series as a whole as all three are deeply interconnected. To review it solo is roughly akin to reviewing The Return of the King on its own without the prior two books. So much has just been built on the prior two acts that seeing this as a standalone is just wrong.

This results in it being, unquestionably, a great and well-written game and entry into the series. The conclusion to the fight started in Unlimited and the culmination of the characters and their arcs across both Extra and Unlimited. It's actually harder to come up with shortcomings for this; although they do exist. For one, there is a large drought of story choice options. Even cosmetic, largely meaningless ones would have been nice, if only to break up the fact that this can be almost entirely played on auto.

Screenshot for Muv-Luv Alternative on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

With the build-up of two prior games to firmly provide a foundation, some truly dark and disturbing moments, emotional highs, strong character connections, and overall glimmer of hope, there is no doubt as to what the final score could be for Muv-Luv Alternative. To consider it anything less than wonderful is to short-sell it due to its powerful moments and well-written plot.

Developer

ixtl

Publisher

Degica

Genre

Visual Novel

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

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   

Comments

I see this hyped to the moon and back and honestly I am pretty skeptical.  Does it play things pretty straight or is it cheap emotional tricks?

It doesn't rely on cheap emotional tricks. At least not what I would define as being 'cheap emotional tricks'. It is legit well-written with plenty of good surprises within especially given the context of the series and two games to build upon.

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