Punch Line is a visual novel adventure game from developer 5pb, based on the Japanese animated television series of the same name. With a name like Punch Line, you’ll be forgiven for thinking of this game as anything but a joke. The premise of “if our protagonist sees underwear, humanity will be destroyed!” is as ridiculous as it sounds. Behind the game, however, is a pretty well-respected developer in 5pb. the creators of Steins;Gate and the Science Adventure series not to mention the writer Kotaro Uchikoshi also penned the popular Zero Escape series. That pedigree in itself should make the game worth a look.
After the initial opening sequence, taken straight from the anime, you’ll take control of Yuuta Iridatsu a high school student who is now stuck as a ghost. Upon returning to Korai House Yuuta is met with Chiranosuke a spiritual entity, taking the form of a cat, that helps Yuuta with his current predicament. As a member of the Human Preservation Project, Chiranosuke’s ultimate goal is to prevent Yuuta from seeing underwear whereby causing an asteroid to hit Earth and the extinction of humanity.
The premise of the game is outlandish and not quite at the same level of storytelling that Stein;Gate and the Zero Escape series possess. Nor too is the gameplay as complex but within it simplistic approach is a more relaxed and easy-going experience. Of course, with the threat of human extinction ever-looming the game does feature some mechanics that play into that, mainly focused around trying not looking at ladies underwear while the camera continually pans in that direction. Alongside this are the usual forms of visual novel level interactions of talking to other characters, checking specific locations for items etc…
Interestingly while the game employs the use of numerous anime cutscenes throughout the entire playthrough the in-game graphics are actually three dimensional. The style itself is not bad, far from it when it comes to the character models, but brings up the question of why when they use so much of the animes footage within the game. I would have expected a Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness approach to graphics which is more akin to its anime counterpart. All in all, the style works and gives it the appearance of more than just a visual novel.
Along with adapting the twelve episodes from the anime series the game also boasts new story material, mysteries and alternate endings. So there’s something new to be had here even if you’ve seen the anime. Not to mention the level of interaction you get to have with the story and characters. For example, setting off a chain-reaction of events by moving objects around will have some rather interesting and fun consequences.
It’s hard to say whether Punch Line as a game is a good jumping-in point for those that haven’t seen the anime prior, but I enjoyed my time somewhat more with the game. It’s silly, downright ridiculous at pretty much all times, but it’s the interaction with the story that the game allows, which makes it a more engaging experience.