Re:Zero Lost in Memories Smartphone Game – The Good and Bad So Far
I’ve been playing the Re:Zero Lost in Memories smartphone game since it launched in Japan last month. I was interested in this since it was first announced because it tells the story of Re:Zero with a bunch of original branching routes. Now that I’ve finished playing all the available story content so far, I thought I’d write a post about my impressions of the game at this current point.
At the time of this writing, there are no stated plans for a global release, but I will be spoiling bits and pieces of the story in this post.
Regrettably, I have to say that the gameplay is about mid-to-below-average for a gacha game. It has turn-based combat, but the strategy is so basic that the only time you’re ever going to turn off the auto mode is when you’re doing the PvP stuff. It also doesn’t have much variety in the kinds of battles you can do, so even when there are events, you’re stuck doing the same battles over and over. There are no skip tickets, by the way, so I hope you like farming.
This game was marketed as a story-driven game, though, so the lackluster gameplay isn’t a huge issue. The bigger problem is that the content is sparse – so sparse, in fact, that it has to artificially restrict how much of the story you can actually do in a day because so little of it is available at this point. I also have to question the decision of locking away story content behind limited-time events instead of adding permanent updates. This seems like the kind of thing that will pick up a strong following at the start, but which will inevitably peter away instead of attracting new players.
Anyway, the story itself is pretty neat. I like the game’s framing device of Subaru trying to regain his lost memories, because as you progress, it starts to dawn on you that Subaru is being fed false memories, and he has no way of differentiating them. By the time the story reaches its third chapter, called “New Chapter 1,” it’s really obvious that something’s up because the scenario is impossible from a canon perspective. Alas, the story doesn’t progress any further than this for now, so there are many mysteries yet to be resolved.
Each chapter of the game has a flowchart, where there’s a “true route” plus a bunch of alternate routes. Some routes are merely minor variations on the story, where a character who didn’t appear in that part of the original story gets the attention, while the routes that really go off the rails are called the “IF Routes”.
For example, this storyline where Subaru meets up with Ram during the events of the first arc is called the “Ram version” of chapter 1, because the story more or less plays out the same way as the original telling but with Ram coming in to assist with the battle against Elsa instead of Reinhard.
Meanwhile, this image comes from the Otto IF route, where Subaru basically just gives up on his idea to save Emilia to instead become a mayonnaise merchant with Otto.
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Naturally, most if not all of these routes mess with the canon power levels and even just basic characterisation for the sake of a laugh or a good time. I have extreme trouble believing that an Emilia-Ram tag team could beat Elsa. But you know what, that’s fine. This game is wish fulfillment and fanservice to the fullest, and I love all the little moments of banter that it adds.
Also, there are genuine details in these what-if stories that feel substantial even to a fan of the original story, where you can sense the involvement of Tappei Nagatsuki’s supervision. For example:
- Wilhelm and Rom seem to know and dislike each other, implying a past feud, but deny being acquainted when Subaru asks.
- If it weren’t for the unpleasant circumstances behind Subaru and Julius’s first meeting, they probably would have been fast friends, as shown in his version of arc 1.
Most of all, I love how each chapter has an IF route where Subaru can simply call on Reinhard, who immediately solves all of his problem in increasingly ridiculous ways. I hope that this running gag will continue even with future story updates.
As an original story, the New Chapter 1 is also pretty neat. Although it doesn’t have, like, seven layers of foreshadowing for a future arc like an actual Re:Zero short story written by the author, I liked how its conflict draws from the politics of the Re:Zero world. It’s a prison break story where Subaru and Otto get falsely accused of murdering a noble, and if they stay too long in prison everyone will get slaughtered so that the truth doesn’t come out. The villain is a hardline conservative (the game’s words, not mine) who opposes the Royal Selection, so he’s organising a coup in order to seize control of Lugunica in the current power vacuum.
After dealing with murder rabbits and witch cults in the main story, a corrupt noble seems like a pushover for a villain, but this story involves Subaru getting electrocuted to death and getting eaten by a sea dragon, so it still feels like classic Re:Zero. I think my favourite thing about it is how the only new characters it introduces are unattractive-looking ossans in prison garb. It may not have been written by Tappei Nagatsuki, but I can just imagine him cackling about how it’s a story about old dudes. This is a good chapter to play if you like Otto, though, because his ability to talk to animals ends up being very useful here.
That’s about all I have to say about the story for now, so I’m going to finish this blog post with some comments about the gacha. This is not a good game to invest money in because the amount of stones you obtain is pitiful for the amount you would spend. Also, if you care about PvP at all, the best character to use competitively is Julius. You’re doomed never to rise above B rank if you don’t use him. If you’re planning to start this game, keep resetting your account until you get him. Don’t be me, who didn’t realise how broken the metagame is until I had invested too much time already to restart. (Obviously, any crappy team can get you through the story if that’s all you care about, though.)