Anime-inspired visual novel with multiple endings.
Janet leaves her school dorm one evening for a date and never returns. What happened to her? In Date Warp, the newest visual novel from Fatal Hearts developer Hanako Games, you’ll get to decide Janet’s fate as the choices you make will influence how the story unfolds.
Since the story is the meat of the game, we don’t want to give too much away so we’ll stick to what happens in the first couple of minutes. Janet’s awkward first date with Bradley becomes a whole lot worse after his car breaks down on a desolate road in the middle of a torrential downpour. Soaking wet, the pair approach a strange old mansion for shelter, and inside encounter a group of young men who seem to be hiding something.
Date Warp essentially unfolds like a regular old novel. There’s plenty of dialogue and detailed descriptions of what Janet does and sees. Text is accompanied by pictures drawn in Hanako’s trademark anime style. The left mouse button advances the text.
Every so often you’ll reach a branch in the story where Janet is faced with a decision. Here’s where the “game” part of Date Warp kicks in. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, you’ll have two or even three different paths that Janet can take. However choosing one isn’t as simple as merely clicking on it. Instead you’ll have to complete a pipe puzzle that involves connecting pieces of pipe to light up the path leading to the action you want to choose.
There are 11 different endings to the game, and finding them all obviously involves reading the story multiple times and trying different choices. Some of the endings are happy; depending on how Janetinteracts with the young men in the mansion, she might find a “special someone” among them. Other endings are bleaker.
To save you from having to re-read the same text passages over and over again, there’s a Skip option that allows you to fast-forward through text you’ve already read and go straight to the new bits. Similarly, you can skip the pipe puzzles for choices you’ve already made. These are both thoughtful features that you’ll likely find yourself gratefully using.
If you don’t like reading, hate pipe puzzles, find anime infuriating or are embarrassed by sexually innuendo or the occasional bit of very strong language (one character even drops the F-bomb) then approach Date Warp with caution. But if you’re part of that niche audience that Date Warp caters to then you’ll enjoy the branching storylines and cute art style, and will no doubt have fun trying to unlock all of the endings.