VN Game Den received a request to review Death Rule: lost code Overdrive Edition.
Death games are a popular genre for visual novels, and today’s is Death Rule: lost code Overdrive Edition, a visual novel in which twelve people are kidnapped and taken into an isolated forest to participate in a deadly game. Each has an objective to complete, but also a special “Death Rule” that they must obey in order to survive. These rules vary greatly; one player might be tasked with ensuring the first person they meet survives for at least several hours while another could have a specific player they’re required to kill.
These rules and objectives contribute to a great deal of paranoia in the stories, because not only do some characters have their own agendas, but some might be forced to become enemies simply because of the requirements placed upon them. There is also a rule that lets the people managing the game invent new rules, which makes things worse. You might expect to have a number of choices to make, but this isn’t true. A couple of important choices lead to alternate paths, but for the most part it is more like a kinetic novel, with characters choosing themselves what to do, who to trust, and how to react.
When you start Death Rule, you have two stories available to you: “The Final Rule” and “Lost Code.” The first is a fairly short story that follows a boy named Dwight who finds himself in a deadly fight for survival. He meets the other eleven participants in the game, but once it becomes clear that they’ll be forced to turn on each other, he ends up partnering with a girl named Tina in the hopes that they’ll at least be able to escape together.
“Lost Code” is a lengthier story that follows the same cast of characters, but tells a different story. Instead of focusing on Dwight, it switches between multiple viewpoints. You could view them as alternate stories of what could occur in such a game. Afterwards, a third story is unlocked called “Untold Stories” that brings things more or less to a conclusion. Once you complete everything, you unlock a couple additional short stories, as well as comments from the creator about the characters (including confirmation that one character is a nod to Deadly Premonition, which I appreciated). While these are all essentially standalone stories, they do reveal more about the characters and overall world to give you a fuller picture.
Unfortunately, things happen a bit too quickly. Fast-paced events are to be expected in a fight for survival, but things move so quickly that I felt I never had time to really get to know the characters. I learned details about them and their pasts, but never got to spend enough time with them for their motivations and fates to have much of an emotional impact. Together with the dialogue feeling awkward and forced at times, and some occasional typos, it made scenes that were supposed to be impactful fall flat for me instead.
Death Rule: lost code Overdrive Edition presents an interesting world, teasing details about the people running this killing game and the groups who are opposed to it, referencing past events in this world’s history and other unique aspects, and hinting at the possibility of a more connected story. However, the structure and fast pacing make it feel like something is missing, like this is a shorter version of the actual story rather than being the complete edition it’s meant to be.
You can download Death Rule: lost code Overdrive Edition for free from itch.io.