Isaac Newton, arguably the most revered scientists of all time, once said “truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” Visual novels tell a story that’s often very vivid, and the use of imagery conveys a more powerful message than just words. They’re simple in their way of execution and informing the player (or reader) of what’s happening but more so, having you feel as if you’re involved in how things unfold by making decisions during specific moments. One would certainly argue that visual novels are perhaps the more sophisticated of an actual novel and we’d like to agree, simply because we live in a world where visuals can help to generate more responses psychologically than if we were just to fantasize through dialogue. Whichever you happen to choose is completely subjective and shouldn’t deter you. So, what’s the point here? Newton and the Apple Tree is a visual novel that maintains simplicity in its narrative, but over time captivates you with its compelling characters and branching paths, that add an incredible amount of depth.
What to Expect
Newton and the Apple Tree is the more sophisticated of visual novels, because what’s often discussed throughout the story have a lot to deal with historical references to Newton himself, but it dives into areas pertaining to Japan and its illustrious Edo period, along with many other charming details pertaining to the early periods in 17th century London. You’re absorbed into a world where each character you interact with provides their own charm, and through building a relationship with them over time, the story becomes that much more compelling. In the beginning portion of Newton and the Apple Tree things will start off quite slow, as it places a lot of attention on the relationship between Yotsuka and Syuji, both of whom are childhood friends who share a great deal in common without really knowing. Yotsuka is the more intellectual, meticulous and cerebral in her approach to solving problems, while Syuji is sort of aloof but in his own way can be incredibly cunning when the opportunity presents. A few things to expect when playing through Newton and the Apple Tree is the great artwork, a wonderful cast of characters all of whom have a great voice actor to bring everything to life, and simply just how much you can actually learn with regards to not only Newton but history itself.
Syuji and Yotsuka are childhood friends looking to find more information about Syuji’s grandfather, who left Yotsuka with a key which leads them to a new location. However, when they arrive at the scene they’re shocked to see that what Syuji’s grandfather had left behind was a Newtonian telescope. Not just any regular telescope, however, as they learn of its truth and are transported back in time to now uncover more clues as to Syuji’s grandfather’s real whereabouts. On their way they run into some trouble and come across a young flat-chested girl, who somehow shows up out of nowhere, but reveals her true identity later!
With any visual novel, the first thing that you’ll normally see is the artwork, which is perhaps the biggest selling point since that’s what draws most of your attention. Dialogue certainly serves its purpose, but the whole idea behind a visual novel is to grip you with its captivating imagery and bring the words to life in a provocative way. Newton and the Apple Tree is by no means a groundbreaking game, but it does a splendid job of capturing the personality of each character by means of great illustration. There’s no over-the-top animations involved, but you can definitely get a feel for how characters feel through their facial expressions and body language, which only brings the game to life. The UI is clean and tidy which doesn’t interfere with what’s happening on-screen, which is a positive because any sort of distraction would really rob you of the immersion. There’s also a wonderful use of colors, which adds warmth to the characters but also the environments in which they’re situated in.
While the music will loop often in certain parts of the story, Newton and the Apple Tree still does a solid job of making sure that you’re engaged at all times. The harmonious tunes are great as they combine comedic highs and sombre lows, which help to illustrate the emotional tension that’s happening between characters. You’ll know when Syuji acts like a complete moron because the music will turn into this sort of cheerful yet childish tune that helps to emphasize comedic presence, while other scenes hit you hard with those saddening lows to make you realize that someone’s hurt.
While a visual novel is meant to truly sell you with its narrative and illustration, the sound truly plays a big role because of how it totally changes the landscape of what’s happening. A good example is the voice acting, which had it not been there in the game we’d not feel the same emotional satisfaction. Everything comes together so nicely in Newton and the Apple Tree that, while at times you might scratch your head in confusion as to what Yotsuka yammering on about, it’s a welcoming feeling that makes you appreciate the characters even more.
Most of your time playing will be reading, but you’re also interacting by paying close attention to clues that are constantly dispersed throughout the game. We’re not just talking about visual cues but as we said earlier, audio cues can often play a role in how you can determine the right decision to move the story ahead. You’re able to speed the game up if you want to skim through scenes a lot faster, but if you’re like us and want to have a hands-off experience, just play it all on auto. Auto is such a great feature because it really makes you feel like you’re reading a book that’s come to life, and you’re getting to see everything unfold right before you.
The only time you’d need to get up is when you’re greeted with a decision you’ll need to make, which of course will lead the story in various directions and ultimately provide various endings. Newton and the Apple Tree has a lot to absorb but it’s so worth it because as you dive deeper into the plot, new surprises await you which unlock other paths that only add more imagination and stimulation.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
We’ve played a lot of visual novels but none of them come close to Newton and the Apple Tree because, while it does throw in some fantasy and sci-ft aspects, it really drives everything home with its dramatic performance and ability to combine both realism and fiction to create something heartwarming. It’s a long game that will take time to clear, but if you’re well versed in the visual novel realm then it shouldn’t come as a major surprise. Take your time because you’d miss out on all the small little details which, to be quite honest, help to paint a much bigger picture down the road.
Fully voiced and each character comes to life beautifully.
Wonderful illustration of both the characters and environments.
Simple UI is always plus.
Various paths to discover and you get to know more about Yostuka’s backstory.
Some nice little ecchi/ero moments to grab your attention.
Wonderful narrative that really reels you in.
The game may feel slow to people but hey, it’s a visual novel afterall!
Honey's Final Verdict:
We hope you found our review of Newton and the Apple Tree to be a worthwhile read, and that it was insightful. We didn’t want to go too far into the story since we’d like you to experience it all by yourself. All we can say is that Newton and the Apple Tree will surely not disappoint since it’s full of comedy, along with emotional highs and lows that will resonate with you over time. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest news straight from Japan, and of course hit us up on Twitch to catch us playing our reviewed titles live!
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!