Punch Line (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gabriel Jones 08.07.2019 1

Review for Punch Line on PlayStation 4

Woe to Yuta Iridatsu. Once he was just a typical college student, but that all changed one fateful day. Due to unbelievable circumstances, his body and soul have been separated. Forced to wander his apartment building as a spirit, Yuta must hunt down the Nandara Gandara, aka the holy book. It is said that this tome can help him reclaim his body. However, this kid has another problem. Every time he looks at underwear twice, Earth is destroyed. Seriously! A huge asteroid appears from out of nowhere and completely eradicates the planet. It doesn't help that in the world of Punch Line, panties are as common as rain-drops. For the sake of humanity, Yuta must keep his mind alert and his eyes averted.

Upon starting Punch Line, the viewer is immediately graced with a view of Mikatan Narugino… and her panties. Now, unless you are, in fact, Yuta Iridatsu, staring will not result in Earth's annihilation. However, this scene does raise a number of questions about the viewer and the product they are about to consume. In the event of panties, what does it say about a person when their instinctual response is to stare? Why would they purchase a game where one of the goals is to avoid staring at panties? Is there, in fact, a hidden meaning to viewing a person's underwear? Perhaps this is supposed to be a glimpse into the unknown, an understanding of the human condition, or even the key to unlocking the mysteries of the pharaohs.

Then again, it's far more likely that this is all just a farce. 99% percent of the time, humans are not the deep and thought-provoking creatures they pretend to be. Though our curious minds and wandering eyes often betray us, we continue to seek what is forbidden. This is all in the pursuit of whatever causes the electrodes in our dirty minds to light up like a Christmas tree. Apologies in advance, because this review will look at a world that is equal parts perverted and absurd. However, if one is willing to grit their teeth and run past all the nonsense, they'll discover that this Visual Novel/Puzzler has something of a heart.

Now then, let's examine Yuta Iridatsu's predicament. His spirit is trapped at Korai House, an apartment complex he shares with four room-mates, all of whom are women. It's in these halls that the Nandara Gandara can be found. However, since Yuta lacks a physical form, he can't touch or grab anything. Heck, even if he found the book, would he even be able to open it? Also, outside of his mentor, the holy cat spirit Chiranosuke, nobody can see or hear him.

Screenshot for Punch Line on PlayStation 4

Thankfully, the poor kid isn't completely helpless. With the power of spirit energy, Yuta can interact with objects. The only catch is that these interactions are extremely limited. If the protagonist musters up all of his spiritual force, he's capable of… knocking over a can of soda. Also, he can only do this a few times, before he becomes too exhausted to continue. Wow. Maybe he is completely helpless. In order for Yuta to get his body back, he's going to have to consider a more inspired approach.

This inspired approach relies almost entirely on the unwitting assistance of Mr. Iridatsu's neighbours. Mikatan Narugino is an idol who moonlights as a superhero. Genius inventor and landlord Meika Daihatsu is in charge of Korai House. Then there's the spirit medium Rabura Chichibu. A spirit medium would undoubtedly be helpful in Yuta's quest, but Rabura is terrible at her job. Finally there's Ito Hikiotani. She's a reclusive gamer who never leaves her room. The cast is quirky, to say the least, but endearing. The bulk of this visual novel consists of the trials and tribulations of their everyday lives. Getting to know everything about them is compelling in itself. One might even find themselves cheering on their successes, and lamenting their failures.

Anyway, Yuta's role is to essentially "haunt" the gals, so that they'll be led to the book's suspected whereabouts. This is accomplished by playing tricks. Yep, the almighty ability to knock things over actually has a use. When someone is startled or frightened, they release soul fragments, which are then used to increase a spirit's power level. Keep in mind however that not every decision will get the desired response. If Meika's power drill isn't plugged in, then it'd be a waste of energy to flick the on/off switch. With a higher power level, the kid is capable of more complex tasks, or trick chains.

Screenshot for Punch Line on PlayStation 4

A trick chain is series of manipulations that can alter the course of the story. These combinations are used to compel the tenants to perform specific actions, such as returning borrowed property. There are at least two conditions at play here. First, someone has to be led to an object of interest. Second, there has to be a clue to explain the object's importance to them, like a hand-written note. If these conditions aren't met, then the trick chain falls apart. In later episodes, Yuta's higher power level will allow him to pull off more elaborate stunts. The process never becomes as complicated as say… a Rube Goldberg machine, but it will require players to consider multiple possibilities. Solving these unique problems is imperative to the storyline.

Now where do panties fit in these scenarios? Due to Yuta's bizarre condition, he has to be extra cautious while exploring everybody's rooms. In Punch Line, nobody ever wears pants, and ghostly tricks can sometimes leave the ladies in compromising positions. If the main character even so much as glances at panties, he'll start to lose control. It's the player's job to drag his eyes away from the unmentionables and focus on the task at hand. If he can't stop staring, then the world is going to end. To put it another way, this is "Game Over." By the way, failing a trick chain achieves the same result. A scene will occur where one of the room-mates inexplicably falls over, Yuta accidentally sees their panties, and… you get the idea. Thankfully, very little progress is lost. Usually all the player has to do is figure out where they went wrong, and try to be a little less of a pervert.

To reiterate, the problem-solving aspects of Punch Line aren't deep, but they keep the player involved. Even when the trick chains aren't particularly clever, they're still sensible and easy to follow. A handful of trophies are tied to discovering secret scenes, so there's at least some incentive to perform pranks that won't progress the story. These aspects help create a unique identity for this visual novel. Granted, the bulk of the player's time will be spent reading and listening, but the added interactivity is still appreciated.

Screenshot for Punch Line on PlayStation 4

As far as the plot is concerned, there's a lot more going on than the ridiculous premise suggests. Anyone who has seen the anime will recognize many of the story beats. The game provides more background information, as well as its own spin on the show's memorable scenes. All of the voice-actors reprise their roles, and they do a wonderful job. The episodic format can get a little annoying at times, especially the un-skippable OP and ED videos, but that's a pretty minor nit-pick.

Much like any other visual novel, whether or not the viewer will enjoy this one is determined entirely by if they're able to connect with the story and characters. Admittedly, this critic wasn't particularly enthused by the concept. It just seemed like an excuse to shove in a bunch of nonsensical fan-service. Sure enough there are, in fact, an exorbitant number of panty-shots. Many of the jokes are low-brow to boot, which makes for an experience similar to the teen comedies of the early '00s. Yet, once able to settle in and get past the junk, one can discovered that there is more going on here than the outward appearance suggests.

Punch Line's greatest strength is in its unusual and endearing cast. The situations they get involved in tend to be weird, but that's what makes them work. While Yuta's whole "destroy the world" problem is one that needs to be figured out, it's easier to actually get more involved in the plights of the four room-mates. With every episode, another revelation is uncovered, and it's fun to see how the ladies resolve the issues that they're faced with. There are also more than a few flat-out hilarious moments. Some of the dialogue left yours truly doubled-over in fits of laughter. Of course, there aren't always laughs to be had. Just like anyone familiar with the anime can attest, the story takes some dark turns. Those elements are handled pretty well, partly due to the additional background details, which are all courtesy of the visual novel's longer "run-time." Altogether, the extra content tells the story in a different way, one that's familiar yet still pretty fresh.

Screenshot for Punch Line on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

It's best to think of Punch Line the visual nove/puzzler as a sort of addendum and guidebook to the anime. Fans of the show get to revisit their favourite characters and scenes in a different format, but everyone else might have a little trouble understanding the appeal. The dirty jokes and fan-service are never in short supply. Still, as long as they have the tolerance for it, viewers might happen upon something special. It definitely helps that the characters and voice-work are fantastic. Both work in unison to make every scene work. Oh, and the puzzle elements are nice too. While not deep, they add just enough of a twist to maintain one's interest.

Developer

Mages. Inc.

Publisher

PQube

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   

Comments

Haha, I always like your philosphoical waxing

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