This week, I’m taking a break from the simulators and trying out Twice Reborn: A Vampire Visual Novel for a change of pace. If you like the visual novel genre, Twice Reborn may be for you, but be warned, this title is definitely in need of a bit of polish and definitely appeals to a certain genre-fiction fan. If you think that might be you, then definitely put this one on your list.
You play as Mark Delaware, a young graduate student in linguistics who is biding time until he can take up his post-graduate position as a translator for the pretentiously named Society of the Arts. Now, I’m not saying that every such institution is a nest of vampires, but let’s be real, in this case, it is. Obviously, Mark becomes a vampire—there’s a vampiric Danny Zuko involved. Once that happens, Mark becomes quickly embroiled deep into the secret vampire society that’s become a bit of a trope.
As the game is a visual novel, the only real interactive element here is that you occasionally get to make decisions for Mark, but beware because the wrong choice could lead you to various dead ends, which given the subject matter are a little more literal than normal. Twice Reborn does offer a really nice redo feature that allows you to return to a choice you’ve made and make a different selection.
It also includes the ability to scroll through records of your dialogues, meaning that you’re better able to deduce where you went wrong. Plus, if you put down the game for any length of time, that history option will make picking back up where you left off so much easier.
Visually, Twice Reborn embraces the aesthetic you’d expect. Ricky, the aforementioned Vampire Danny Zuko, rocks the greaser look; there’s a creepy old lady. You can even find Gothic Lolita representation as you meet the various main and side characters in the story. The animation style is heavily influenced by anime-style designs, but they’re nicely rendered. Sound design is where things begin to go a bit pear-shaped for Twice Reborn. Admittedly, I played the game on my Switch rather than connecting the console to the television and using a controller, which means I wasn’t expecting flawless sounds. However, I’m not entirely certain if it was a problem with the voice-acting or the sound-mixing, but the dialogue tended to be completely hit or miss. When it was good, it was great. When it wasn’t, yeah, you get the idea. The game developers also opted to forgo using a narrator, so you’ll end up with curious patches of near-silence. Aside from that quirk, the soundtrack is pretty fitting and utterly unsurprising.
Twice Reborn’s progress does require you to keep track of three general groups of data points. You first need to track your standing both with factions in general because, of course, there are factions or vampire associations. Next, you need to keep track of your standing with particular individuals as you’ll need help as Mark explores the world of Twice Reborn and navigates the Enforcer path, if that’s what you choose. Lastly, you have a bloodlust meter, which makes perfect sense in context but doesn’t always get implemented. Twice Reborn really does a good job of executing this particular element because you always, always have to keep track of your hunger. Even if you’re trying to keep Mark to the path of the angels, your bloodlust meter will often require that you have Mark do things that go against the morality that Mark’s trying to develop in order to keep him from going insane with bloodlust. Also, maxing out that meter leads to an immediate ending, so yeah, Mark will have to feed and face the consequences.
Overall, the story really does try and explore some interesting moral and philosophical themes, but the game does come with a pretty big caveat. Twice Reborn does more than just touch on the religious ramifications of vampirism, and by “religious,” I mean Western Christianity. The game has a heavy, heavy religious influence, and if that’s something that will be a problem for you, you should perhaps find a different title.
Twice Reborn does a good job of approaching these themes, but I can see how they would be jarring for certain players. It also explores concepts of abandonment and family, so the story definitely went a little deeper than I would have expected.
Twice Reborn is a vampire game, so players should anticipate a certain amount of violence and gore. With the additions of some heavy themes, it will not be suitable for all players. However, despite some rough edges, Twice Reborn tells an interesting story and manages to use the bloodlust meter mechanic effectively enough to keep the title interesting, and as there are about twenty different endings, it has some decent replayability. The redo option keeps it from becoming frustrating, and the dialogue view means that you don’t have to worry about forgetting major plot points if your life suddenly spirals out of control, taking away from your gaming time.
A regular run of Twice Reborn can be completed somewhere between five and seven hours, so the length is just about right. Twice Reborn: A Vampire Visual Novel retails on the Nintendo eStore for $14.99 and is currently on sale on Steam for $7.49.
- Twice Reborn is a good reminder that a decent graduate advisor is never to be trusted.
- I feel like we need to talk about some of the hat choices in this because they are epic.
- I love that you play a graduate student in linguistics. There’s something really nice about having a protagonist whose sole goal in life is to facilitate communication and the sharing of information.