Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After Tomorrow for PC
anCHOR has finally released the long-awaited English localization of Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After on Steam.
Most gamers who enjoy visual novels are at least familiar with the original Muv-Luv trilogy, especially since Muv-Luv Alternative is arguably the best game in the genre’s long history.
Still, there’s so much more to the franchise than its best-known games, and Unlimited: The Day After is probably its most unique element.
The four episodes of the visual novel, which all released on Steam at the same time (and can be purchased separately or as a bundle) take place – as their name suggests – right after Muv-Luv Unlimited, the middle chapter of the original trilogy.
If you thought Muv-Luv Alternative was dark, it’s basically the darker side of the show, picking up at its moodiest low point.
I can’t say much about the story without delivering massive spoilers for those who haven’t played the rest of the franchise, but The Day After covers events right after Unlimited, and according to my personal interpretation (Muv- Luv leaves a lot of room for this) before Alternative.
Humanity has been pushed to the brink of extinction by the alien hordes codenamed BETA, and TDA sits exactly at the tipping point where the level of despair is at its darkest, with nearly all hopes for the future completely annihilated.
Humanity has never been so divided, making the odds against the alien threat even more impossible.
It is in this depressing scenario that we follow the deeds of new heroes and heroines crossing paths with familiar faces, both friend and foe.
It’s an extremely harsh and complex journey into the depths of human nature among politics, war, intrigue, sanity and adorable moments of levity that end up being even more welcome due to the darkness. that surrounds them.
The storytelling is absolutely top notch, and TDA definitely ranks among my favorite visual novels of all time due to its human depth. Some may find it less epic than Alternative, but it’s in some ways more intimate as it focuses on slightly different subject matter.
The original trilogy depicts what could happen if humanity were pushed to the brink of utter despair. The Day After depicts what could happen if we were pushed beyond that with a punchy dose of raw realism despite the fact that we’re talking about a sci-fi visual novel with aliens, cute girls, and mechs.
By the way, this is one of the few Muv-Luv productions that, in my opinion, doesn’t absolutely require playing the original first. It’s much better if you do, at least until Unlimited, but you might get away with not doing it since the focus is mostly on new characters.
Ideally, if you’re new to the series, I’d recommend playing Muv-Luv Extra and Unlimited first, followed by the four episodes of The Day After, then Alternative.
TDA certainly bridges a wide gap between Unlimited and Alternative, which may seem odd to some, given that they’re literally alternate versions of the same world, but it’s only by familiarizing yourself with the franchise that you understand what I mean.
Incidentally, the cast is absolutely brilliant across all shades of gray on the heroes/villains spectrum. As a bonus, you’ll see many more of a few characters who appeared briefly but didn’t shine in the spotlight in the original trilogy.
Episode 00 serves as a prologue to 01-03 and focuses on an essentially different cast. It’s also the shortest, but make no mistake: it’s definitely worth playing due to its deliciously painful dive into the conflict between hope and despair.
It’s worth mentioning that The Day After’s appeal lies not in the gameplay, but almost exclusively in its storytelling. This is the most extreme type of visual novel, with no choice of routes.
You won’t read any gameplay dissertations in this review, because frankly there aren’t any. That said, a brand new interface has been created for the occasion, and it is really very refined.
The location is nice and the voice acting is excellent. The audio department is also complemented by the series’ excellent musical approach, including some truly impressive vocal themes.
The visuals have evolved a lot since the original trilogy, which should come as no surprise considering it was released between four and seven years after Alternative.
The character design is generally beautiful (with some minor character-focused inconsistencies) and it’s complemented by some absolutely adorable super-deformed scenes when things take a comedic turn.
It’s worth mentioning that this version features a bit of censorship. The “fortified suits” that the actors wear in battle displayed more chest detail in the original episodes 00 and 01. That being said, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t done for the good of Western audiences. These details were already omitted in the Japanese versions of episodes 02 and 03.
The age of developers has pretty much moved away from this type of content over the years, and I guess the retroactive change just reflects that. That being said, fans of fanservice needn’t worry, there’s still plenty sprinkled around the four episodes.
As usual for the Muv-Luv series, Mecha Design absolutely shines. The series’ TSFs (Tactical Surface Fighters) are some of the best and most believable robots to come out of Japanese pop culture and the fact that they’re inspired by real airplanes certainly helps.
On top of that, since the setting shifts to a more international storyline, we see more TSFs belonging to different nations compared to the original trilogy, which is great for mecha lovers like me.
Incidentally, TDA features some of the most spectacular and dynamic battles in the entire franchise, which also sets it apart from most visual novels.
Ultimately, Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After beautifully continues the legacy of its predecessors, not only expanding on the universe begun with the original trilogy, but raising the bar for despair with a deep dive into its side the darker.
If you don’t mind crying and are fine with an extreme visual novel without routes, I can definitely recommend TDA. Also, if you were having issues with a broken heart, you probably wouldn’t be interested in Muv-Luv anyway.
- The story is absolutely fantastic and very, very dark.
- Stunning mecha fights.
- Great cast of characters.
- One of the best extensions of the Muv-Luv universe.
- Great voice acting and music.
- No route.
- Some inconsistencies in character design.