Witch On The Holy Night PS4 Review – Visual novels can be a hard sell for some people. Even for avid readers, soaking up a good book can be easier and more appealing than locking in on a big screen. This is why visual novels were so prevalent on the PlayStation Vita.
At the same time, a visual novel comes along that makes locking into that gaming position on the couch and digging into the text worth the long haul. Witch on The Holy Night is one of those visual novels.
Witch on The Holy Night PS4 Review – A Wonderful Visual Novel Finally Localized
This visual novel begins in the fictional mountain town of Mizaki, where Aoko Aozaki reluctantly lives out her teenage years. To make things more cumbersome, she, the student body president, is made to introduce a transfer student to the school on her day off.
This new student’s name is Soujyuro Sizuki, who comes from an even more remote town so isolated that it doesn’t even have electricity or phones. Aiko not only has to tour with a new student but also navigate Soujyuro’s deep social limitations.
However, the longer they interact, the more intrigued they are that the other can even exist, since they’re such polar opposites. Even further than that, something feels off on both sides, but neither Soujyuro nor Aoko can pin down why.
The prose in Witch on The Holy Night presents itself much like an epic novel, taking the time to build up every part of the story. All characters see relative development, and interactions feel emotional in some form or another.
The narrative itself touches on themes of social status, gender roles, different human connections, and coping. None of these themes ever grow heavy-handed and yet make you think about them just by seeing events play out.
Further still, the town of Mizaki receives a fantastic contextual feel as well. In the early chapters, the game describes the town not only in its present state but how it developed over time. All of this plays into how Aoko perceives this isolated world around her, and the level of detail here absolutely shines.
Young Adult Archetypes
Frustratingly, a couple of things along the way broke my immersion; in particular, key plot points that significantly move the story along. Sometimes, the story receives an unnatural push forward through either a spontaneous event or an odd way someone says something that doesn’t completely sound like that character would say it.
These seem to lead into key storyboard points. Someone will say nothing, for instance, or say something out of character just so another character reacts the way the story needs in order to move the story forward. It’s like trying to tell the story in reverse in parts, jolting progress and making the overall flow stumble a bit.
Thankfully, these situations never break overall interest in the story, but they appear frequently enough to warrant mentioning. I must credit Witch on The Holy Night in this regard: I usually lose interest when this kind of writing takes place, but the story kept me invested all the way through. A good story doesn’t have to be perfect.
Streamlined Visual Novel
I don’t spend a great deal of time in visual novels, so my experience pool is limited. However, the delivery of this story works so well. From the start, the novel keeps its presentation simplistic, opting to keep the nitty gritty settings in the background. Without changing anything, text speed moves nicely without flying by or making you wait.
Even so, the game gives you full control over text speed and auto progression. Giving you this kind of control lets you simply read the story play out instead of needing to press Cross after every line. You still can, if that’s your preference, but these settings let you choose how you consume the story.
You even get full access to placing bookmarks throughout the story as you go along. This means you can stop whenever you want to return to it, or you can set a placeholder for a part you really liked and go back to it.
Couple all this with an orchestra-backed piano soundtrack, and you have a recipe for success. Like what happens when I read, I generally fall asleep when I read simply because I relax so deeply. Dull visual novels-or dull books for that matter-don’t do that to me because I can’t get immersed in them.
This happened a few times Witch On The Holy Night. Reading is one of the few examples I will ever advocate for by saying the story put me to sleep. This is far from a universal effect, which is why I feel I need to accompany it with justification.
Quality Of Life
Witch On The Holy Night features 13 chapters in the main story. These chapters vary in length, with some lasting for maybe 20 minutes while some run over an hour or two. Not all chapters are created equal, naturally, but some of the longer chapters could have easily been split up naturally.
In a couple chapters, several key events take place, and these chapters include definable breaks mid-chapter. For the sake of pacing, averaging out the chapter balance a bit more would have benefited the final product considerably.
Replay value is interesting here. Once you complete the main story, the archive of the game unlocks several little side stories for you to take in. These give you more time with these characters if you so choose.
One story in particular takes on a life of its own. It places all the characters in a murder/mystery scenario. Unlike the rest of the game, this story gives you options to choose from, giving you access to numerous different endings depending on what choices you make.
Having these stories separated from an already lengthy narrative gives players the choice to jump into the side content without bogging down the core presentation. At the same time, this extra content plays into the world and lets you spend more time with a compelling cast of characters. All in all, this makes for a winning balance.
Witch on The Holy Night Is A Must-Play Visual Novel
Witch On The Holy Night does so much well that the handful of minimal issues can easily be forgotten. Regardless, chapters vary grossly in length, and some plot points take abrupt turns for the sake of moving the narrative rather than occur naturally.
Nonetheless, the wonderful setting and story, combined with the interesting range of characters on offer, makes this a narrative worth experiencing. We waited ten years for a localization of this game, and it was absolutely worth it.
Witch On The Holy Night is available now on PS4.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.