GBAtemp Recommends: Collar X Malice

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The first game I reviewed for GBAtemp back in 2017, Collar X Malice has a special place in my heart. I loved it back then, but it suffered from one major flaw holding it back from mass appeal—its availability. Now free from the shackles of Sony’s now-defunct handheld, I’m here to recommend it all over again, this time for the Nintendo Switch.

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For those who missed the original review, let me fill you in on the premise. It all started in April. On a giant screen in front of Shinjuku station, a broadcast was shown of four missing police officers gagged and bound to chairs. Alongside this foreboding image, a voice announcing what was to come: the rebirth of Japan, X-Day. Roll on May and a second video. The officers previously kidnapped are shown in costumes, still bound, before being shot. Month on month, a new incident occurred, each marked with a unique coin and a roman numeral counting down. You join the story in December, just a month before the supposed X-Day, and find yourself at the centre of the events after being targeted by the group behind it all. Donning a sophisticated collar containing a remotely deliverable poison should you act out, it’s down to you and a ragtag group of suspiciously attractive men to find the truth.

It’s a bit much to describe in a paragraph, but the introductory chapter had me hooked again after coming back to the game three years later. It’s amazing how much you can forget for a game that’s entirely story-driven to feel fresh, and yet here I am excitedly going route by route as the quirks and charms of each character emerges once more. X-Day is here again and I couldn’t be more excited.

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Looking at it as a visual novel, Collar X Malice plays it fairly by the books. You have your standard walls of dialogue presented in a delightfully readable font and nicely-drawn character portraits. To mix it up a little, you have a few sections that come up a few times each route: investigation, trigger mode, and… well, picking which floor you want to go to in a building. The latter of these is exactly what it sounds like, but giving you an image of the building and its layout is nice, and while you can only go to the few marked areas the story is telling you to, it acts as a nice, if minor, break to the dialogue. Really, the same can be said for the other additions. Investigations see you move a pointer around a room and selecting points of interest a few times until you progress, and trigger mode is a small minigame where you need to time pressing the A button once to shoot a gun. Each of these are unremarkable by themselves, but serve their purpose well in giving you a sense of control varying the gameplay, if only by a little.

There are two parts that really stand out to me, those being the character development and plot progression. Of course, with this being a recommendation to play a visual novel, I can’t really say much about them without taking away the magic of experiencing it for yourself. To stay vague, it’s all incredibly satisfying, while tempting you into playing more. Much like what I enjoyed in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, each route contains its own details of the larger plot, while also narrowing in on a single character. Through this, you assemble pieces to a larger puzzle that you as the reader put together externally to the game. This is wonderfully supported by bad ends, teasing you with information that often doesn’t come up again in that route, your eyes widening as you see a character smiling at you who in another timeline wanted you dead. It’s marvellous.

With this being a port to the Switch, I had hoped the localisation team would have taken the opportunity to tweak the game’s script. While the plot is fantastic, and in large, the port is excellent, it remains just that: a port. To my admittedly untrained eye, nothing has really changed, and this means all the quirks I outlined in my original review are still present and accounted for. To mirror what I said back then, nothing is so bad as to detract from the larger quality of the game, but these do, albeit infrequently, take you out of the moment. You’re sat double taking and re-reading just to make sure it’s not you that’s at fault. It’s a shame, but what more is there to say about it?

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A familiar image for anybody who might have read my review.
Even considering its shortcomings, Collar X Malice is a game worthy of your attention. If you want a bit of mystery, a bit of murder, and a bit of romance in your life, it’s definitely worth picking up on the Switch, or even revisiting on the Vita. With the curious interlude Collar X Malice -Unlimited- right around the corner, there’s no better time to jump back into this dark world.



I hope you enjoyed this edition of GBAtemp Recommends. If you'd like to see more, leave your feedback in the thread below or check out our previous articles.



TAGS: [GAME=/game/collar-malice.12634]Collar X Malice[/GAME] [GAME=/game/collar-x-malice-unlimited.69344]Collar X Malice -Unlimited-[/GAME]
 

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I am not into this kind of games (otomes) because I find romance always kind of cliché and repetitive, but if you take this aside, the game is pretty interesting.

First of all, this game has 5 paths (stories, one for each possible man). Each path has multiple bad endings and two 'good' endings. One being the really good one (the romance one) and the other one being the normal good one without romance.

The plot (as far as I have completed) is interesting and entertaining, perhaps a 7 or an 8 over 10.

If you like thrillers and mysteries, you will probably like it, but again, if you're like me and don't care about the otome part, you will need to wait a lot to get into the interesting parts of each path.

My recommendation if you are planning to play it is doing this path order:

1st: Enomoto (it gives information of the overall main story and a lot of personal information).
2nd: Sasazuka (it gives more information of the main story and has a lot of 'spoilers' of the Enomoto's path)
3rd: Okazaki (it mainly gives information about the past that is related to what is happening now).
4th: Shiraishi (I haven't ended this, but as far as I have done, it spoilers things of the other three paths and gives explanations to some of these things that ended unexplained).
5th: Yanagi (since I haven't done this yet, I am not sure what to say, but probably it will tie everything up).

So in my opinion, it is a good game for those visual novel enthusiasts and what I have done so far is interesting. I recommend it, but as an otome, it contains a lot of text referred to things that is not really attached to the main plot.
 
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Thanks, this has been on my radar for a while now. Is there any reason to play the original since Unlimited is coming out soon?
 
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Scarlet

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Thanks, this has been on my radar for a while now. Is there any reason to play the original since Unlimited is coming out soon?
Unlimited is the reason you should play the original actually. They haven't been too great on the marketing, but to the best of my knowledge, Unlimited is a bit of a side story to the game. You have new bits of information scattered through the original story, as well as a few new side stories to tell.

If you want to enjoy Unlimited, you need to play the original game.
 
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cluesagi

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Unlimited is the reason you should play the original actually. They haven't been too great on the marketing, but to the best of my knowledge, Unlimited is a bit of a side story to the game. You have new bits of information scattered through the original story, as well as a few new side stories to tell.

If you want to enjoy Unlimited, you need to play the original game.
Ok, that makes sense. From the marketing it seemed like this was a Persona 5 -> Persona 5 Royal situation. That explains whey they ported the original to Switch earlier this year. I thought it was strange that they did that if the new version was going to make it obsolete.
 
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Scarlet

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How similar would you say this is to the Ace Attorney series? It sounds like it shares some similarities. I love Ace Attorney, but generally don't play VNs.
It's not really a comparison I'd draw. AA is a series of self-contained cases with the whole investigate then court routine. With something like CXM, you're constantly gathering information, constantly learning about characters. It's a lot more text, but there's some good that comes from that.
 
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It's not really a comparison I'd draw. AA is a series of self-contained cases with the whole investigate then court routine. With something like CXM, you're constantly gathering information, constantly learning about characters. It's a lot more text, but there's some good that comes from that.
I might have to pass then. Ace Attorney is already a bit too much text for my liking, I can only handle it in small doses.
 
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I might have to pass then. Ace Attorney is already a bit too much text for my liking, I can only handle it in small doses.
Yeah I do get it, VNs aren't for everybody. I will say you should try the Zero Escape games if you liked Phoenix Wright though. Similar amount of text with frequent breaks for escape room puzzles. Super fun.
 
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Yeah I do get it, VNs aren't for everybody. I will say you should try the Zero Escape games if you liked Phoenix Wright though. Similar amount of text with frequent breaks for escape room puzzles. Super fun.
I tried 999 (was told I had to start with that one because they're connected), played it for a few hours, didn't really get into it. I want to like it though. I like escape room games on my phone, they're good convenient time killers when I'm not at home. But due to all the text involved 999 is less good in those same situations. Can't easily pick up and play for a few minutes, I have to actually be reading and following the plot. What kept me interested enough in the Ace Attorney games to complete them all were the soundtracks, especially in the courtroom parts, makes cornering the witness feel all the more worthwhile.
 
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