Root Letter (stylized as √Letter) revolves around the mystery of Aya Fumino, your old high school penpal who went missing 15 years ago. On receiving her final letter 15 years late, in which she confesses to a murder, you set off to Shimane Prefecture to unravel the mystery of what happened to her. Reminiscing through previous letters from Aya, you must piece together the truth, alongside the testimonies from seven witnesses who knew her. Did she really murder someone, was she telling the truth in her letters was she even real?
Root Letter was released in 2016 for Playstation Vita and Playstation 4 with additional releases on the PC and on the iOS and Android smartphone, developed by Kadokawa Games and published by PQube for North American and European Audiences. This is the first game for KG's planned "Mystery Adventure Game" series, with RL being first in line. What makes this unique is that it's one of the few Japanese-made VN games that reflects on places outside of Tokyo, especially Matsue since it's the hometown of KG's president Yoshimi Yasuda.
An unknown live-action project based on the game is scheduled to be produced by Perfect World Pictures. On August 2018, Yasuda announced that two games are in in progress, named Root Letter: Last Answer and Root Letter 2.
Last Answer is an expansion to Root Letter, using live-action scenes, actors and visuals as an option while having scenes that further explain the endings.
Tropes presented by Root Letter:,
- Bad Ending: Three out of the five endings can definitively count as bad with the protagonist dying in one, being institutionalized in another, and tormented by Aya's ghost in the third. The fourth is a Bittersweet Ending at best, in which Max just misses his pen pal by one day and then moves on without ever meeting her.
- A Day in the Limelight: Chapters 2 through 8 all focus on one each of Aya's seven friends from high school.
- Dead All Along/Dead Person Impersonation: The real Aya Fumino died 25 years prior to the story, and it's revealed that a girl named Shiori Yoshioka was posing as Aya.
- Everyone Dies: In the "Cursed Letter" ending.
- Evil Old Folks: Dr. Fumino, in some endings.
- For Want of a Nail: If the group of friends hadn't randomly stopped at Dr. Fumino's house that one rainy day, it's likely the events of the game would've never came to pass and things would've turned out very differently for everyone.
- Happily Ever After: Shiori and the protagonist in the Golden Ending.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Shiori, the "real" Aya Fumino, can be clearly seen in many promotional materials, such as the cover art for the game and the image used for this page.
- It's All My Fault: In the Golden Ending route, everyone feels responsible for the fire that killed Yoko Fumino. Dr. Fumino assures them it was an accident and no one was at fault.
- Local Hangout: Kaminari-An becomesTakayuki's main hangout to eat at while in town.
- The Men in Black: In the A Govenment Plot path, they pop up to track Max and the friends.
- Monochrome Past: The flashbacks are mostly portrayed in a sepia tone.
- Multiple Endings: There are five in total.
- My Sibling Will Live Through Me: In the "Princess of Himegamori Forest" route, Aya and Shiori are siblings who were separated shortly after Shiori's birth; Aya's personality eventually completely takes over Shiori's.
- Never My Fault: The position a lot of the characters take when talking about how their friendship ended with Shiori, leading the protagonist to call them all terrible.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Aya's letters have her call her friends by the nickname she identifies them as. It's up to the PC to find out who in town matched those names.
- Posthumous Character: The real Aya doesn't actually make an appearance in any of the routes except through flashbacks, and has truly been dead for 25 years.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Shimanekko, who's also the real life mascot of Shimane Prefecture.
- Scenery Porn: All of Matsue. The prefectural government worked together with the game staff to ensure that it gets accurately represented.
- Seven Deadly Sins: The friends in the Princess of Himegamori Forest path get described as Four-Eyes' Greed, Bitch's Envy, Fatty's Gluttony, Snappy's Wrath, Monkey's Pride, Shorty's Sloth and Bestie's Lust. Max gets an eighth sin added in Frivolity.
- Story Branching: Though certain key plot points remain the same across all routes, Aya/Shiori's personality and role can vary wildly depending on the route. One route, for example, has Shiori being an alien and Dr. Fumino being a UFO researcher (along with the two soba restaurant employees).
- Shown Their Work: Matsue is entirely depicted accurately in the game.
- True Ending: As is common with many visual novels, requires at least one playthrough to be unlocked.
- We Used to Be Friends: Basically the whole premise of the game - Shiori and the gang were once a very close knit group, but they were driven apart by their jealousy and paranoia.
- Wham Line: From Dr. Fumino in the Golden Ending route when he says he doesn't have Shiori's contact information but knows where she is.Dr. Fumino: She's right behind you.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The end credits for the Golden Ending show a character montage of what the seven friends all accomplished after the events of the game.