In the world of visual novels, it's hard to come up with ideas to make oneself have their own story stand out from so many others. The premise of PUNCH LINE tries to take a less familiar approach of combining interactive gameplay with a more cinematic approach to storytelling. The only real problem is that it's actually a less impressive adaptation of the anime series it's based on, with cheap fan-service that's not all that worth it.
The story of PUNCH LINE is about how a boy gets caught up in the middle of a terrorist bus jacking, which is thankfully stopped by a superhero. However, in the middle of this scuffle, he sees a pair of a women's panties, which activates a hidden power within him. This allows them to tackle the terrorist leader with enough force to fly out of the window and into the river below. However, this causes their soul to separate from their body. What's more: when their soul ends up at his apartment, it appears someone else has hijacked their body.
Your goal is to get your body back. Oh, and since these weird types of games have to be weird, the fate of the world hangs in the balance, since seeing a girl's panties twice triggers a series of events resulting in the planet blowing up. So you have to perform a series of tricks to manipulate people into performing actions that will move the story forward and help you get your body back. The element of tension, as a result of this, is that many of these tricks exposes these women's panties to your protagonist.
PUNCH LINE's actual story is more interesting than either the gameplay or the cheap fan-service contained within. The way the story is presented is odd, as it take cues from Zero Escape's framework, while also using watered-down mechanics seen in Ghost Trick. Even the writer of Zero Escape did the story of this series, which includes a cameo from that game. But Ghost Trick had a better gameplay set, since the tension worked better since you had to do a series of actions in real-time. The visual representation of the graphical style also proves just how little of a budget went into the GUI and character models. Even ignoring the fact that the graphical level was set low enough to also work with the Vita version of the game, it's still not all that visually impressive.
PUNCH LINE works better as anime to watch rather than a visual novel that serves only to slow down the narrative, and it's clear that sub licensing clips from the show killed whatever budget the game might have otherwise had. Plus, the anime is on Crunchyroll & HIDIVE, so you might want to do that instead of play this adaptation. There are definitely better fanservice visual novels out there.
Promotional consideration provided by PQUBE Games
Eric is a freelance writer and has a podcast called RPGrinders, and you can support their Patreon page here.