Have you been craving a visual novel that does something differently than the traditional dating sim themes of most? We know some of you out there are nodding furiously and thus, you may want to read what we have to say about a special visual novel created back in the early 2000s. Known as Muv-Luv, this romantic comedy with a dab of drama starts off pretty simple and traditional. Take a young man and his future dream girl, and see what happens when they hook up. However, Muv-Luv is a series split into three games for a reason. Behind the silly romance trope, there lies a dark tale…one that will surprise many of you. Those who like visual novels to capture them and surprise them will no doubt love what Muv-Luv has to offer.
What to Expect
Muv-Luv is a visual novel trilogy—the first game contains two stories while Muv-Luv Alternative is the final tale—that begins one way and ends quite a different way. Players assume the role of Takeru and guide him through love, loss, comedy and something world shattering. Choose the girl of your dreams and then realize that maybe, just maybe, there is more to Takeru’s fate than who he might end up with. Sci-fi is the name of the twist in Muv-Luv and we aren’t kidding; it’s a doozy of a twist reader. Muv-Luv wants to lead you into a false sense of normality and when it hits you with the true story, you’re going to want to be holding your PS Vita strongly as you might drop it otherwise.
Takeru is your atypical young high schooler who finds his world changed one morning when a beautiful girl named Meiya awakens on his bed. Dealing now with an angry childhood friend and several classmates who don’t approve of Takeru’s recent developments, the young man must deal with trying to survive with a mysterious girl and friends who seem to want more than they let on. However, Takeru still doesn’t realize that what is happening to him now might seem comical and cliché in terms of romance, but there’s more to this story then he understands. Takeru will soon learn that fate has begun to countdown on changing his life forever…Can Takeru survive the reality that is about to be set loose on him?
Way back when, Muv-Luv was a visual novel locked in Japan and could only be played with a knowledge of Japanese and/or an English translation pack online. In 2016 though, Muv-Luv was translated fully and edited for a more modern audience for the PC and now, it has finally come to the PS Vita in 2018. Credited as one of the most epic visual novels ever made, we went into Muv-Luv expecting a lot and being afraid it wouldn’t deliver in its dual story of rom-com beginnings and a sci-fi ending. Two tales in one, did Muv-Luv meet our expectations and then some? Let us find out in our review of Muv-Luv for the PS Vita.
Now it’s important to first mention that Muv-Luv is separated into three stories, Muv-Luv Extra, Unlimited, and Alternative. The first two parts—Extra and Unlimited—come with Muv-Luv, but the latter is a separate game so don’t worry about that for now. We will be doing a review of Muv-Luv Alternative so when you get through these two tales—and this review—you can check that one out when it releases. Alright, with that being said, let us talk about what to expect with Muv-Luv. Trust us, you might think this is an atypical high school romance tale, but it’s far from it.
Muv-Luv Extra and Unlimited—Extra being the first part—tells the story of Takeru who deals with an annoying but cute childhood friend—Sumika—and then finds himself bound to a girl who appears on his bed named Meiya. As per usual with most visual novels, the game itself is simple. Make choices when they appear, read dialogue and watch the still images roll. However, Muv-Luv changes it up in both Extra and Unlimited by having stills that often move with a simple flow and animation to keep the story almost feeling like an anime. That’s why let us talk about the pros and cons of the visual novel style for Muv-Luv first and then we’ll talk about the story and if it’s worth your time.
Visually, Muv-Luv at times looks dated—this is an old game after all—but often, it makes up for the age by having a solid art style and constantly moving characters who act animated in the best possible ways. The same can be said of the amazing voice acting that makes each character really feel unique and different. You have your usual girls like the cat-girl, the class rep, the tough but cute girl and the childhood rounding up the cast but these girls all have different expressions and styles to them making Muv-Luv a game with several very different girls despite their trope-like themes. If we had any complaints here, it would be the text, at times, isn’t the best in terms of color, transparency and amount thrown on screen—there are times where you’ll get a huge block of text that will obscure the bottom half of the screen—but it’s a minor annoyance overall. Muv-Luv looks great for an older visual novel and we had no problem with how it plays out visually.
Story wise, Muv-Luv hits all the right notes to be one of the better stories in a visual novel we’ve experienced in some time. As we said, Muv-Luv is separated into two tales with the first being comical and romance driven and the latter being the change in Takeru’s life that screams drama and sci-fi. The rom-com moments are often hilarious making us laugh out loud and smile during the cuter scenes. The sci-fi part—which is about the latter half of this 21+ hour experience—is shocking and made us gape in awe. Muv-Luv might start one way but it changes tone so wonderfully that even if the beginning annoys you, the latter half won’t to be sure. We also recommend checking out each girl’s routes—we checked out a handful ourselves—as they are all wonderfully written and actually make the story change pretty dramatically at times.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Muv-Luv deserves the praise it received when it first released back in the early 2000s. This story might seem to play at the typical romance comedy with drama elements, but the sci-fi twist is something that catches you off guard and makes the whole tale feel so different in all the right ways. Muv-Luv is similar to all visual novels in that you won’t be doing much more then clicking one button to read and then occasionally making choices to affect who Takeru ends with—or doesn’t end with—but the story keeps the tried and true visual novel gameplay in check. We loved our time with Muv-Luv Extra and Unlimited and can’t wait to dive into the considerably longer Muv-Luv Alternative. If you want to keep your PS Vita alive, we recommend buying Muv-Luv for it and playing it as soon as you can.
Wonderful romance story with a sci-fi twist
Solid animation keeps scenes from being bland and still
Great vocal performance
Tons of endings and paths you can go on
2 games for the price of one
Text can sometimes be a bit messy
Some animations and art styles look very dated
Honey's Final Verdict:
We here at Honey’s Anime know visual novels get a lot of flak for being overly simple and at times, being barely considered a video game. However, Muv-Luv does a tremendous job of being a visual novel that keeps you glued to the screen from beginning to end and really hits you in the heart. With solid—but sometimes old—animations and art directions, Muv-Luv feels more like an anime and really will be an enjoyable experience for most. Are you thinking of seeing what Muv-Luv is capable of doing to your emotions? Tell us in the comments below as we love discussing things with our readers. Be sure to keep an eye out for other game reviews—as well as Muv-Luv Alternative—done by us here at Honey’s Anime.
Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!