Right now there are few anime series bigger than Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World. The web novel grabbed people’s attention almost immediately and the oni sisters, Rem and Ram, proved absurdly popular. So popular that they’ve likely hit the point where, even if you’re not familiar with the series, someone somewhat interested in the genre would recognize the characters and their distinct maid outfit. With success comes an anime, which provided so successful the series went full circle getting a visual novel, Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne. While the series started as a novel there are reasons to be hopeful, but given this is a licensed game, will they make the most of the franchise or will it make similar mistakes to other licensed games?
Like a lot of series, Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne largely omits the first two arcs. There is an option near the beginning where you’re given the chance to relive past memories, where the first two arcs are somewhat explained. This section is roughly 20 minutes long and is a little more beginning heavy.
Most of it focuses on Subaru’s interest in Emilia and reclaiming her stolen crest, an item that shows her claim to the throne is legitimate, along with explaining Subaru’s mysterious ability to die and come back at an earlier time. The second part, unfortunately, glosses over a lot of the charm of Subaru’s journey to get closer to Emilia and his ongoing battle to get close to Rem and Ram. Almost everything related to his deaths is not present and is an unfortunate loss for anyone new to the franchise or just wanted to see oni form Rem right off the bat.
Following this, the story essentially follows the series third, royal selection, arc. So, basically, it offers up its own version of where the anime’s first season ends, or if you read the manga, the third series concludes with its own flare. On paper, this makes a lot of sense and something to be excited about.
There are a fair amount of twists and turns, along with some truly great moments. Be it Subaru starting to manage his power, along with solidifying Rem as a fan favorite towards the end. It also makes things rather accessible, as the following arc starts to introduce more intricate details that is far less of a pickup and play experience.
Where Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne falls short is really execution. On paper, Subaru’s power leans into gameplay elements so well I would guess this is a can’t miss, only for it to really be a simple A or B choice. Some of these do impact how things progress, unlocking new story segments unique to the game but their actual value depends on the person. For the most part, it just rounds out some lesser characters or fills in some slight gaps that fans will likely appreciate but the overall value will vary wildly.
As the adventure progresses, there are a good number of gameplay sections that, quite honestly, feel rather needless. For example, one is running around getting items needed to progress. Do I really need to talk to Rem, exit, get a flower, return to her, go to the kitchen, get tea leaves and then exit the building? Probably not, but the thought isn’t terrible, it’s just executed poorly. Something like later exploration sections handle it better, though there is no point where these elements feel invaluable to the experience.
In addition to needless exploration, there is an equally pointless combat system. While these sections are turn-based, they’re largely centered around bringing Subaru’s power and inability to the center stage. Take the introduction to these mechanics. You’re told to explore as monsters progress, eventually find some bombs, and blow up before you can toss it. On the subsequent attempt, everything goes exactly the same, except you know what doesn’t work. Part of what makes these sections so lackluster is the amount of effort put into them.
Between chibi 3D models, a real lack of depth, and a cheesy feel, it honestly feels like a needless step back from the core visual novel elements. When Emilia uses her ice shards, they look neat, until the enemy gets casually hit and just falls over. None of the attacks feel really exciting, despite having a fair amount of style to them, sandwiched between a 10-minute long gameplay section. It’s hard to fault them for trying to be more than pictures and words, though when you end up with sections that are basically pictures and words with less style, it’s hard to see the value.
Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne Review – Verdict
For the most part, that is what Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne comes down to. Fans will likely enjoy the new content, newcomers can enjoy it, though execution leaves something to be desired. Simply replacing the gameplay sections with character interactions would likely go far, especially when they do very little to sell the concept. As a fan, this is unfortunate, though I can at least respect that it attempts to capture what fans loved in the source.
[Editor’s Note: Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and provided to us from the publisher for review purposes.]