Sony’s PS Vita is dying a very slow death, which is sad, the little handheld is an amazing console that really never took off as it should have. I know that Nintendo’s mighty 3DS is very hard to topple, but at least Sony gave it a go and gave gamers a console that can hold some very interesting titles. Idea Factory was kind enough to release a very intriguing and unique title, Collar X Malice, in these waning days of the system. For some reason, the most interesting titles are visual novels, which the Vita handles quite well. For those who don’t know what a visual novel is, it’s basically an interactive comic book where you get to make some pivotal decisions and basically read everything. The voice overs are in Japanese so you don’t get to phone your way in on this one, you have to read the subtitles or you won’t know what is going on, trust me it’s a very interesting tale.
I’m going to be somewhat vague with the story because that is what really sells this game to me. Shinjuku is a crime ridden city, and an organization named Adonis is terrorizing its citizens. They released a video warning the inhabitants of the city of X-Day and showed four police officers bound to a chair. Time passed and another video was released, this time four shots rang out and one body was left sitting bound to a chair, the other four chairs were empty. The police horrified at what happened never recovered the three other bodies. Politicians decided that the Shinjuku Quarantine Act would be the best course of action for everyone’s safety. The politicians also decided to rid the city of their gun control and sword laws, every citizen over the age of 20 was given a firearm for self-defense. The catch was the fact that the ammo and weapons were coded to the individual they were given to, so if you shot your gun the police would know it was you and where the bullet went. You play as Ichika Hoshino a green police officer in the city and you find yourself kidnapped by Adonis. Once you’re rescued from a terrible fate you find that you have a collar attached to you that monitors your every action. Now the game really begins, you must find out what Adonis wants with you while not letting them know what you are doing. Did I mention the collar has a lethal dose of poison waiting to be injected into your neck?
The developer of this title made sure to help the player recognize each main character. They are all quirky and have their own personalities that really make you want to continue pressing the X button to see what they say next. You will also be clamoring to slowly peel away all the mysteries this game holds. As you interact and build relationships with the other main characters you could seriously mess up your friendship with that character. Every now and then you are given the option to answer in one of two ways to the supporting cast. When you decide you can either endear them to you or make them dislike you more. The awesome, yet annoying this about this mechanic is that you are given very important decisions with little to no knowledge of the personality of the supporting character you are talking to. I know for a fact that I irritated quite a few people the first few chapters because I was just answering how I would answer in real life and not weighing how it may affect who I was speaking to. This made it fun and I’m sure I will replay it to make sure that everyone likes me, just like in real life.
I enjoyed this title, even though I am starting to get burned out on visual novels on the Vita. I long for some more first-party support and real third-party support. Idea Factory did a great job with this title, it wasn’t put out haphazardly and you can see that they actually cared about the title even if they knew it was going to a system at the end. I commend them for that. Gamers who love heavily story driven game with lots of twists, turns and mysteries they need to pick this title up. I have always enjoyed a good mystery, Batman and Sherlock Holmes are my heroes, so getting to play through one that is very detailed and keeps you guessing is a joy to me. For gamers who like fast paced action games or platformers this probably isn’t the game for you and you should look elsewhere for a Vita title. Anime and mystery fans though need to give Collar X Malice a shot, you won’t regret it.
A Playstation Vita review copy of Collar X Malice was provided by Aksys Games for the purpose of this review.