When it comes to Japanese anime and manga there are all kinds of strange ones available. Punch Line, from developer 5pb and published by PQube, is an anime that’s been adapted into a visual novel and although it follows the story closely, it’s also loaded with extra content for fans. If you follow the show this is definitely worth checking out, otherwise if you don’t you’ll know pretty fast if this games right for you.
Punch Line is a visual novel first and foremost with a lot of anime finesse thrown in. This means there’s a whole bunch of actual full anime cutscenes that you’ll see scattered throughout your play through. The story is told in an anima perspective with episodes that are broken up by an opening credits and even an in-between title sequence.
In Punch Line you play as Yutan Iridatsu and after a bus he’s on is hijacked, he’s separated from his body and his spirit starts to be guided by a cat. The story is mainly told through text and exposition, and there’s anime cutscenes plus a few moments of actual gameplay. Before becoming just a spirt, Yutan live in an apartment with a group of other interesting characters including Mikatan, a girl who ends up becoming the super heroine ‘Strange Juice’ at night, Meika, a scientist who helps her out, Rabura, a poor girl who can’t get her life together so she ends eating and binge drinking, and lastly Ito, who has a pet baby bear and is very much into an online mech video game.
While the plot involves the “whole world getting destroyed” narrative, Mikatan and Rabura have a superpower which allows Yutan to see girls panties to get super powerful. However, if he ends up seeing the same girls panties twice, he blows up and the world comes to an end. In Punch Line how this works is if you star at the panties of any of the girls you’re interacting with for too long, the meter fills up and you blow up having to restart from the last checkpoint.
What the gameplay revolves around is by playing tricks and setting up a trick chain on the residents of the apartment complex you’re living in. Usually this is to get them to go into rooms and interact with one another or get items spread across the rooms. This gets more elaborate as you get further through Punch Line, leading to some complex situations. You have a limited set of moves you’re able to perform and they set a variety of items you’re able to interact with in all the girls rooms.
Every time you interact with an object the girl will potentially react. Sometimes she doesn’t and this means you may have failed your chance set up the best possible scenario. With the tricks, your main goal is to seemingly just get the girl to fall into a compromising position so you can get panty shot. With the chain mechanics, you’re trying to perform the more elaborate option of trying to get all the girls to go into different rooms and then setting off a specific action in order to get the chain reaction. Thankfully, they tell you which action this is, so you’re able to know when it’s time to set it off.
When you successfully pull off these moves and scare the girls into these compromising positions, you do end up getting points and leveling up which allows you to interact with even more objects. All of this is broken up between long segments of either anime cutscenes or texts that you’ll have to read. Everything about Punch Line is set up like an anime and because of this it’s very easy to follow along or take breaks at different points. I was always intrigued to see what would happen next, as every section has a cliffhanger that you’ll want to get a resolution to.
The poltergeist-like interactions with objects reminded me of some other classic titles I use to play on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. However, I wish there was more to it, as they usually are easy to figure out how to trick the girls or setting up a chain. It can be easy to mess up the order in which to do tricks though, and this can lead to a few frustrating moments of meaning to do one thing and something else completely different happens.
Overall, Punch Line is an enjoyable visual novel anime cross-over that was more fun than I thought it would be. Obviously, you have to like this type of game to get the most enjoyment out of it and the gameplay, while functional, is more of a distraction than selling point. Fans of the show will get extra insight into the story, but this also stands by itself if you’re looking for something more original in the visual novel space.