Reverse: 1999

released on May 31, 2023

Reverse: 1999 sets in the retro style world in the west. The story is interesting: on the last day of 1999, humanity was brought into a new age – the 1920s, by a strange storm. In the new world, surprisingly, some talented people have a kind of ability called Arcanum, and some of them become Arcanists. You will explore and try to discover the secrets in the new world.

Now you must find out what to do and save some people along the way. It’s a fantastic card-based game in which you’ll learn a lot of new stuff that RPG fans will undoubtedly enjoy.

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10/10 I wish gay people and oranges were real.

Reverse: 1999 is reasonably enjoyable and undeniably aesthetically pleasing, but I failed to discover anything that justifies the exaggerated praises found in most reviews. It’s decent, but it doesn’t quite live up to the 神ゲー status I anticipated after reading those reviews. I do suggest giving it a shot, at least for 15 minutes, as recommended by App Island. However, if you have a contrarian spirit, rest assured, you’re not alone.
Longer version here:

As a visual novel I quite like this game. It's charming with a great aesthetic, an interesting start to a story, (that is at times held back by translation issues, more on that later as it's a bit complicated) fun characters, but sadly some of the most tedious gacha-isms I've ever seen. I can imagine this game being absolutely incredible in the future, but for now it's still pretty good.
Firstly though, I want to address easily the biggest strength this game has, which is it's cast. This game is way more diverse than any other anime-styled game I've ever played in my life. (Excluding a few fighting games but I don't really play those.) Characters in this game come from all kinds of cultures, and getting actors from those cultures to play those characters makes the cast feel very alive, and it almost feels like a celebration of different cultures in the 20th century.
Onto it's writing though. This game is very obtuse. Things that should feel incredibly important are never properly explained (seriously, how does the storm even work. If the Foundation has a humanist faction, does that mean humans can survive in the storm too? How are the foundation buildings immune to the storm in the first place???) which means that the story very much expects you to go with the flow and not worry about the large details. If you can manage that, the story has some pretty good moments. Another thing worth noting is that the pacing is extremely fast too. Scenes never feel like they drag out too long, and if anything I would love it if the scenes were a bit longer.
In spite of it's obtuseness, I think Reverse 1999 does manage to cover a few interesting topics however. Chapter 2 and Chapter 4 especially have some surprisingly potent political messages at times. Nothing groundbreaking, but hearing a sixteen year old cry upon finding out that people were killed by the government simply for being poor did make me quite emotional.
Onto the thing most people talk about when it comes to this game: the translation. It's rough. It's not unreadable, by any means, and the dialogue being roughly translated is something I can forgive due the circumstances of this game's production, (Originally written in Chinese for a Chinese audience with english audio for the sake of aesthetics rather than accessibility. As an American I completely respect using British and American culture for aesthetics.) however the unvoiced writing having major translation errors is a bit frustrating.
I think the characters speaking odd english at times is charming and not something inherently bad, though I do wish that the text on screen at least matched what the original chinese writing said, instead of just scribing what the english voice actors say. Hopefully with how much money this game has already seemed to make that can soon become a reality.
One last thing before I get into the gameplay: yeah the yuri in this game is good. That's what most people will probably play for and as an avid enjoyer of lgbt media I think Reverse 1999 is very solid. Having explicitly lesbian characters like Tennant and Matilda is really nice, and Medicine Pocket being agender is super cool (even if that's unrelated to the original point about yuri.)
Now onto the gameplay
As an (unfortunately) active gacha player, I think the main appeal of the genre is accumulating recourses to build a variety of characters and seeing your teams grow in real time.
As far as the combat side of things go, Reverse:1999 is pretty fun. There's fun synergys for team building, and the card mechanics add a bit of randomness to avoid making combat feel stale. However when it comes to recourse gathering, Reverse:1999 is bad. Very, very bad.
Think of every negative with Arknights recourse gathering, but make the stages slightly faster. In exchange, add an additional two tiers of tedium for no real reason.
Easily the biggest issue with this game is that i3 should fundamentally not exist. It is a bullshit recourse dump meant to make you have to play/pay more for what should take far less time. In Arknights, each promotion feels incredibly necessary for the characters. Promotion 1 and 2 both unlock a skill for each character, and promotion 2 especially unlocks a passive than is usually game-changing. It's a large recourse dump, but all steps of the process feel rewarding, especially getting new artwork upon reaching max promotion.
Reverse:1999 clearly did not learn the right lessons from Arknights, because the promotion (or insight) process is literally just the Arknights system but worse.
Instead of having 2 levels, you have 3, for literally no reason other than to make you waste more recourses. Like Arknights, unlocking insight gives your characters new passives, but the primary problem is that insight 2 passives are actually bullshit. Every single insight 2 passive, for every character in the game, is just a 5-10% stat bonus. It has no reason to exist, and all it does is make unlocking their incredibly important third passives much more annoying, as you have you effectively reach what would be e2 max level in Arknights in order to unlock a character's REAL potential in Reverse. Also it's obvious that i3 was an afterthought to earn them more money because you unlock a character's new costume after reaching i2. You don't even get a new promotion line after reaching i3, they literally just repeat the same line from i2. It's a pointless mechanic that has no purpose other than being player unfriendly.
And 4 star units not being able to reach i3 is straight up bullshit why did they do that.
Anyways, gameplay gripes aside, I quite like Reverse:1999. I'll hopefully be sticking to this game for a bit, so I'll probably update this review as more chapters come out (and hopefully as the translation improves.)
If you like games with diverse casts, yuri, and don't mind egregious recourse grinds, Reverse 1999 is a fun time.
Thanks for reading my unedited rant.

tô viciada nesse jogo! acho muito lindo, gostei da estética e curti a história.