Foreword: Routes gets 5 votes cumulatively while closest rival sits at 3 votes, so here is review of this game.
Synopsis: The story takes place in 21st Century Japan (approximately at the end of April 2010). The main character Nasu Souichi is a perfectly ordinary high school student, who tries to do as little as possible everyday, and sleeps though most of his classes, only ever to be woken up by his friend Yuasa Satsuki. They believe they are living in a peaceful time, where no large wars are occurring.
However, these peaceful days are destroyed, when a number of large ships disappear at sea, almost instantly, and with no explanation as to why. A strange woman named Lisa＝Vixen suddenly appears and attacks Souichi... however Souichi also has his share of secrets.
Game type: There are two different games here - spy thriller and medieval rural mystery
Character Design rating: 8/10
Protagonist rating: 7/10
Story rating: 8/10
Game quality: 7/10
Overall rating: 8/10
There is already a good review of this game (1), so I'd better present personal impressions acquired during the course of the game. There WILL be spoilers, although I don't consider them to be big enough to really spoil anything - they are needed to present the structure of the game.
Game starts with Lisa Vixen route, and she is the real main heroine of the game. She is both stunning blonde beauty and a great super-agent. There is great teamwork and unexpected resolution there. But unfortunately only this route really resembles spy thriller. Next four routes required to reach true route are less impressive. From second playthrough there is a hint about a strange medieval-looking man as well as two choices - whether to go to school or stay home. Going to school leads us to our osnajimi Yuasa Satsuki route or her best friend Fushi Yukari route. I decided only to play thoroughly through Satsuki route. There is an attempt to fill it with SOL and humor, but it works out so-so. The worst part of it was how it ended up being so much overextended. I was hoping to get a fast H event and move to story already, but this route had as many as three (!) unsuccessful attempts of etching pushing story further and further. In the end, story development stars without getting into intimacy stage, but ends up a degraded version of the same Lisa route, just without the unexpected twist.
The other three heroines routes are even worse, a total bore-fest. Two of them are just an average town girl and an average town lady with their stories having NOTHING to do with the spy theme. The true route is the shortcut of the same Lisa route AGAIN, just with all three main heroines at support - Satsuki, Lisa and Fushi. There's nothing really special about it, and game just could not be called a masterpiece at this point after all the routes and the True route.
But then right after true route a totally another game kicked in - "Roots". That's a samurai rural story about the powerful sword and fighting the greater evil. This story has a bright cheerful scenery and a cast of funny characters with numerous memorable moments. Then the connection between "Routes" and "Roots" was revealed, and game finally could be seen as an integrative complex story above the giri-giri masterpiece level up to the point of firm masterpiece level, or 8/10.
I can't evade discussing technical difficulties here. Only console versions are voiced. But console versions can't be hooked - I tried all the variants possible. Without voicing this game does not really worth the effort. So I ended up running recording high resolution PC version screen and text acquired through hooking, but at the same time running PSP version to get voicing from it. PSP version has auto-reading, but PC version does NOT. So I had to manually click through every phrase following PSP auto-reading tempo. This causes all those un-synchronized lines. As if it's not enough trouble already, PC hooking is same clunky as both Kizuato and Shizuku, which means that lines appear consequently on the screen making hooker tools see it backwards. There was a special hooking script developed for Kizuato and Shizuku making lines be translated in the right order, but not for Routes, alas. That's why translation must be read from the end sentences to the first sentences properly. Leaf games really suck for hooking. Moreover, since I had to manually click through 30 hours of gameplay, I made text appear in full blocks skipping some mid-line animations. Just wanted to noted that, because actual PSP version looks much more alive than what I got as a result.
Routes turned out to be a real challenge for me due to really poor systems of PC version. I spent so much time recording it that it may even affect the pace of my next publications since none are left prepared. Unfortunately, only Lisa route, True route and Roots are really worth playing making the leftover heroines routes feel redundant. Game has a really decent "Roots" story which is difficult to get to due to numerous technical difficulties encountered. I just hope that more people will be able to appreciate the game through my video of it.