This guide is designed to explain the particulars of the Railgun PSP Visual Novel in order to prepare readers for navigating the non-linear translation. For those who want to get started right away, I have a bare minimum section on Navigation. The other sections provide more detail and explanation, but much of it consists of things you can pick up along the way.
To start with, each chapter is divided into a number of Scenes. Since the chapters are nonlinear, you won’t be reading every scene in order. Hyperlinks will be used to navigate between non-consecutive chapters and there will be detailed instructions telling you where to go next.
In addition to hyperlinks, you will also see expandable drop-down sections. These are used for different functions:
- If preceded by the word Choices, you are in a decision scene. Select a topic to advance and continue reading in the expanded section
- If the Drop-Down is titled ‘Chattin’!!’, this represents an OPTIONAL decision scene. Only expand it if you wish to. Note, some of these Chattin’!! scenes have special instructions listed which must be followed to properly experience the story.
- Sometimes the Drop-Downs merely include instructions. This is used for cases where a scene can vary based on the route you previously took. Simply follow the instructions.
Lastly, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you try to keep track of which scenes you have seen. Some scenes can change based on which other scenes you have previously viewed and in other cases your route will vary based on the scenes you’ve seen.
In the remaining sections I will mostly be going into further detail. If you feel you are ready to get started, go ahead. Otherwise read on.
The game is divided into chapters with independent stories. While choices made in one chapter do not carry over to the next, only by successfully finishing each chapter can the next be unlocked.
Each chapter is divided into a large number of scenes. Some of these scenes lead to bad endings, some are mandatory to complete the chapter, and others are completely optional. Experiment with different decisions to find your way forward.
Topics are keywords and information that are automatically obtained as you advance through the story. The topics you’ve collected and a brief description can be viewed through the game’s pause menu, which I have reproduced at the end of each chapter. Topics are divided into different types indicated by an icon. These include: people, locations, objects, and information. Additionally, there is usually one Special topic near the end of each chapter which relates to the final part of the story.
Topics are obtained at specific points in the story and are typically discussed in conversation when they are obtained. Topics are occasionally updated with new descriptions (viewable in the pause menu), though the game only notifies you when they are first obtained. In most cases, a scene that contains a topic is mandatory viewing.
So what do topics actually do? Besides simply being listed in the pause menu, topics serve another important function: decisions. When it comes time to make a decision, your choices are derived from your list of topics. Selecting a topic removes it from your list which can occasionally have an impact at later decisions points.
In Judgement Mode, even topics that were consumed will once again be available for selection, though any topics used in Judgement mode will be consumed as well
Decisions and Chattin’!!
While most of the game follows the standard of having either sprites on a backdrop or a screenshot background with a text box for dialogue, decision scenes are different. The four heroines’ sprites all appear on screen, with the speaker enlarged. (Mini-sprites also appear is the bottom corner and sometimes show some amusing reactions.) Dialogue advances without pause or input and is shown in text bubbles instead. After a brief discussion, the choices will become available. As stated above, each choice corresponds to a Topic. After the choices are presented, you’ll have a few seconds to make a decision or else the game automatically selects None. A brief dialogue occurs after the choice is made, after which the scene change occurs.
I have indented decision scenes to set them apart. As mentioned above, you should use the expandable drop-downs to select your choice. Simply click on the one you want.
Chattin’!! is a special type of decision scene that is entirely optional and will only activate in game with player input. Note that the availability of Chattin’!! can depend on your route, with some instances removing the Chattin’!! option. Other meanwhile may retain the Chattin’!! decisions but make the activation mandatory, preventing you from not selecting it.
In the translation, Chattin’!! sections are designed as drop-downs just like choices. Clicking on Chattin’!! will open up the dialogue and available choices. If you choose not to select Chattin’!!, simply continue below.
In addition to the above type, there are cases of Chattin’!! scenes that use interrupts instead of choices. These typically appear late in the chapter after Judgement Mode, when Topics are scarce. In this case, a line of red text appears and you’ll have a short window to press the circle button to initiate an interrupt. Dialogue will then proceed differently depending of whether you selected it or not. I once again use drop-downs to represent these interrupts.
So you’ve made it through to this point. You gathered all the information you need to take action. It’s time for Judgement Mode. Judgement mode is a special decision scene and can be thought of as a ‘who-dunnit’ mode. It features a completion bar that fills up by a certain percentage based on the flow of the discussion. By selecting a choice (or choosing none) a dialogue sequence will activate. Proposals that are viewed positively advance the gauge, while any refutations will deplete it. The goal is to fill the gauge as much as possible by selecting the right topics at each successive decision point. While you can advance with less than 100%, this will more often lead to bad endings.
Advancing through Judgement Mode is similar to Chattin’!! with multiple layers. Some choices deadend in a hyperlink that will return you to a prior point in the conversation and force you to choose again. Only by advancing the conversation to a certain degree will you be allowed to move on to the next scene(s).
These are 3D rendered sequences that appear at a chapter’s climax. The player will be asked to input certain commands with the buttons and d-pad in order to advance the scene. The events are timed and missing an input or selecting the wrong one will force you to replay the sequence from the start. In later chapters you will be asked to input multiple actions consecutively.
I present these sequences as alternating dialogue and action narration. I also will include videos of the full sequence at the end of each section.
This is more of an aside, but after playing a few sequences I’ve noticed that each button corresponds to certain actions and resembles the combat controls from the Index game. Specifically, the X button seems to be a defensive action, square and triangle are different types of offensive/proactive actions, arrows obviously signal a direction, L and R seem to trigger ally assistance, and circle (so far) is reserved for finishing moves.
So this has little to do with how to play/read the story or game mechanics. Rather it’s more of a concept that becomes clear upon close examination of each chapter. Within the chapters, there are 1 or more scenes that have very specific viewing conditions. So specific in fact that I’m tempted to dub the route that reaches the ending after viewing all hidden scenes as ‘The Canon Route’. Thus far (as of chapter 2) there is only one route per chapter that fulfills this condition. The routes do share some common features, but I’ll let you the reader discover what those are.