So here is a visual novel with an interesting premise: what if two time travelers accidentally get in the way of Sir Isaac Newton just before the discovery of universal gravitation, causing Newton to not make that discovery? And what if Newton was actually a cute anime girl? Well that is the premise here with Newton and the Apple Tree, one of the better visual novels to have come out this year.
Excellent common route. The common route here in Newton and the Apple Tree is easily one of the best common routes I have ever had the pleasure of playing through. This is largely due to the pacing of this route: not too fast, but not slow either. It seems like the majority of the visual novels I play these days suffer from having a slow and boring common route, even if the routes later on are much better. That is absolutely not the case here, as Newton and the Apple Tree grabs the player right from the start and does not let up from there. For the most part, it is constant story development, with few lulls along the way. As a result, it is a blast to read through.
Multiple patching options. It is always nice to have a free 18+ patch for a game released on Steam, but Newton and the Apple Tree goes above and beyond in that regard. Not only is there a free 18+ patch, but there is a free 17+ patch as well, allowing users the choice of how much they want uncensored. The 18+ patch restores all content to the game and even removes the mosaics. The 17+ patch restores the censored text to the game and leaves out the H-scenes entirely. So those that want the full, uncensored experience have their option and those that want the uncensored experience without the H-scenes have theirs as well. It was nice to have this choice and I hope that more visual novel publishers do the same.
Helpful settings. Newton and the Apple Tree has some of the most helpful settings I have ever seen in a visual novel. The game includes all of the basic settings one would expect from a modern VN release and then some. This includes animation speedup, mouse cursor fading, color changing for seen lines, and many others. There are two settings here that I have never seen included in a VN before, the first of which is the ability to toggle waiting for voices in auto-mode. With this setting I am no longer subjected to waiting for an entire voice line to finish before proceeding to the next while using auto-mode. A small change, but one that proves incredibly handy for players like myself. The other new feature is quite a massive one, that being the option to toggle honorifics on and off. This satisfies both those that want a more localized experience and those that want a more true-to-the-original experience. It is such a simple setting, but it puts the entire honorifics debate to rest. I find that many modern VN releases lack these settings, so it was great to see them included here.
Pacing issues in some character routes. As much as I may have praised the pacing of the game’s common route, it unfortunately does not carry over into every character route. I will not go into specifics (to avoid spoilers), but I will say that some of these routes ramp up the pacing so much that a lot of the plot developments just become laughable. The character development that is supposed to be covered during these routes just feels lost as a result. It was like the writers had to quickly wrap up production because the budget was running low. A shame really, as the common route was very well done. At least this issue does not affect every route, but it really brings down the routes that it does affect.
Font cannot be configured. Newton and the Apple Tree’s one major technical fault would be its lack of font configuration. As it stands, the player is only able to toggle text shadow, outline, and thickening, with no options for size and the font itself. Normally I would not be one to complain about a visual novel’s choice of font, but the issue here is that the font is simply too small. The game window runs at 1280×720, so playing the game windowed on a higher-resolution monitor does take some getting used to. I used a 1080p monitor, so the issue was not as bad as it could have been had I been using something higher, but the font really should have just been configurable from the start. Running in fullscreen does remedy the problem to an extent, but requires the game and all of its assets to be blown up to the monitor’s resolution, something I prefer to avoid with visual novels that do not support such resolutions. Overall though, it was a bit of a surprise to not see this feature included, as the game does really well elsewhere with its settings.
Blurry character art. This is another visual novel that suffers from zooming in on low-resolution character assets. When zoomed in, the blurriness of these assets is very noticeable. This is a problem when the game is windowed, so playing it in fullscreen just makes it that much worse, hence my complaint in the previous point. Fortunately, the game does not do a lot of zooming in and out, so this was not a huge problem, but it is still a problem regardless.
Newton and the Apple Tree is a solid visual novel, one with an interesting story, an excellent common route, and an incredibly handy settings menu. It does have its share of problems, mainly with its pacing later in the game and lack of font configuration, but it is still definitely worth the recommendation. In fact, it is easily the best visual novel I have played this year and I hope that Sol Press keeps up the quality localization work with their future titles.
You can buy Newton and the Apple Tree on Steam here.
I was provided a free review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.