Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect is a visual novel with a difference. It sets itself aside from the pack with plot that doesn’t involve Japanese high schools or horror elements. Instead, the narrative is focussed on a family. A mafia-esque family. With guns and ‘business’ and all the trappings to boot. That said, it’s hardly The Godfather.
There are two gameplay modes included in Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect. The first, a ‘kinetic novel’ simply lets the player enjoy the storyline with no gameplay whatsoever. The second is essentially the ‘game’ mode. However, even this second mode is so bereft of interaction that you’d struggle to call it a game.
At certain points within the story the player is asked to make decisions. These decisions will affect the outcome of the story. By-and-large however, it’s simply a case of right or wrong: choosing the wrong answer will lead you down a dead end to a fake ending. There’s none of the relationship building, multiple pathways to conclusion or item hunting that made eastasiasoft’s other recent visual novel release, The Letter: A Visual Horror Novel, so compelling.
What there is however, is a deep story touching on some very mature narrative threads. Unfortunately, these are handled with the kind of immaturity that would land a more mainstream game in very hot water. It’s very hard to respect a game that trumps aggression to minor for dramatic effect over reconciliation for such actions. Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect is intended to be the first part of a series, so hopefully such issues will be rectified in the planning stages for any forthcoming sequel.
As it stands however, this is a game with very little game. And a story with very little reason to endure. Even for visual novel enthusiasts, Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect is likely to fall flat in its delivery. there are far better interactive experiences out there, with far better delivery of their story.