Fuyu Uso is the fourth and final game in Campus’s ‘Lies’ series, based in a mammoth school with a hidden population of magical beings.
As a bit of a recap, the protagonist of this story, Sakurai Souichirou gained the power as a young child to sense the lies of others through a magical tool within his body called ‘Red Line’. In the game, this shows as lines of dialog literally being highlighted in red when a person is lying (at the precise part of the dialog they are lying). As a result of or despite this, Souichirou has become a young man who never lies, though he is capable of forgiving the lies of others (having made peace with his ability). As a former normal human being, Sou (as he is called by Eris) is incapable of producing the magical energy necessary to feed the magical tool inside his body, and as a result he has to supplement it through magical contracts, where he performs a service for someone in exchange for a price that results in the formation of magical energy to infuse the contract. This price is entirely random and it is apparently designed to balance out the difficulty of the request. Sou, being honest, tells people about this price, and as a result he has a lot of bad rumors going around about him, lol.
Anyway, Fuyu Uso focuses on Setsuka, the final of the four heroines and the one who is by far the most mysterious. She is always smiling but Sou finds her presence uncomfortable for reasons he can’t even explain to himself.
To be blunt, this is probably the ‘heaviest’ of the four paths by several degrees. Eris’s Aki Uso had some heavy moments, but in comparison it seems far less intense. This game/path also reveals the ‘why’ of Setsuka’s fascination with the protagonist and her true personality… which – for someone who hardly ever lies – is pretty scary.
More than any of the paths, this explores the duality of people’s views on the nature of lies, which is fitting for the conclusion of a series with ‘uso’ in the titles. I honestly found the presentation of this game to be awesome, and I couldn’t help but empathize with Setsuka’s life (I seriously cried at several points).
Overall, this VN is a great conclusion to a series that surprised me with its quality, and I can honestly recommend the series as a whole to people who like fantasy VNs that don’t involve swords and bloodshed.
Hatsujou Sprinkle is the latest release from Whirlpool. It is based in a world where descendants of demons (mazoku) are everywhere, just waiting to be awakened. The protagonist, Souta, meets a mysterious turtle who causes him to awaken as a mazoku… thus gaining the power/affliction that makes both him and all the women around him become aroused.
Normally, this would be a concept perfect for a nukige, and when they first started out, it is likely Whirlpool would have done just that (their early games show that). However, instead they made it into a charage with something approaching an actual plot. That isn’t to say that the story is anything worthy of note in and of itself. Unlike this companies best games, the story elements are rather weak and mostly used as an excuse for comedy and ichaicha.
This VN’s heroines are pretty standard-issue, though they have their quirks. Koharu is your standard yurufuwa ero-oneechan (meaning that she is slow-talking, loves to spoil the protagonist, and is generally erotic, lol), Hadzuki is a straight-out tsundere (with the quirk that she randomly switches from relying on the protagonist to insulting him from moment to moment), Mio is your straightforward ‘innocent just waiting to be corrupted’, and Shizuku is a nice ‘nearly-yandere’ jealous heroine.
The magic in this story is based off of the Seven Deadlies, with Hadzuki being Pride and the protagonist Lust, for instance. Most people have a single ability (though certain abilities come standard, such as durability and quick regeneration when transformed), which rather limits the setting (standard practice for a fantasy VN like this one).
Now… is this a good game? As a charage, it is decent. The heroine paths are a bit heavy on the ichaicha (well, duh) and the protagonist isn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the block (again, no surprise there), but overall, it was an enjoyable experience. At the very least, it made me smile frequently, even if the story itself isn’t memorable. It stands above works like Kujiragami or Magistalic (by the same company, but if I compared it to Suzukaze, Lunaris, or World Election (again, by the same company) it falls short by a long shot.
For those who like Whirlpool’s less story-focused charage, this is one of the best choices. However, it isn’t a game I’d go out of my way to play a second time, lol.
Hikari no Umi no Apeiria
This is the first game by Silky’s plus Dolce, a sister company of Silky’s Plus Wasabi, which created Nanairo Reincarnation and Akeiro Kaikitan. That’s not to say it has the exact same staff or themes… the writer is different, for one thing. However, the game’s quality turned out to be consistent with what I’ve come to expect from a Silky’s Plus game.
This game is a futuristic sci-fi kinetic novel (there are choices, but they lead to the same ending in the end) about a young man named Reiichi’s quest to protect his beloved AI Apeiria. That said, this game starts out and continues for the first four hours or so as a largely humorous story.
Reiichi is probably the single most straightforwardly-perverted protagonist I’ve ever seen in a VN. He is also so open about it that, instead of it being disgusting, it is just hilarious. What’s more, that aspect never quite disappears, no matter how far into the game you get (it really is just the way he is, lol).
There are four heroines in this game. Their names are Miu, Mashiro, Kuon, and Apeiria (incidentally, this is the order in which you see their stories as part of the main game).
Miu is a straight-laced tsundere who met her stepbrother (Reiichi) in the worst possible way… by having him splatter semen in her face. To be honest, this scene was the one that set the tone for the first part of the game, and I ended up laughing so hard simply because it was so ridiculous.
Mashiro is a ‘modern girl’ and also a heavy gamer with a tendency to fall into a dialect of modern Japanese known as ‘wakamono kotoba’… a dialect that alters drastically as new words are born and old ones die, meaning that each generation of airheaded teens has a completely different sublanguage, lol. Hers are relatively easy to interpret if you are used to navigating Japanese dialects in the first place, but for those not accustomed to that, there is an explanation early on in the story. Her handle name is ‘Do-M Hentai’.
Kuon is a yurufuwa osananajimi oneechan with a tendency to regress into chuunibyou at random intervals. She is a heavy manga addict, but she is terrible when it comes to understanding science and machines. She and Reiichi have known each other since early childhood and are quite close.
Apeiria is a ‘strong AI’ (an AI with emotions and self-consciousness) accidentally developed by Reiichi early on in the story. She is very curious and loves nothing more than for Reiichi to give her orders. Her innocence resembles that of any number of other loli true heroines in VNs I’ve played in the last half-decade, but her manner of speech is really, really odd. One thing you have to keep in mind is that she is really immature psychologically, and her origins as a machine shape the way she speaks (she tends to cut up her statements into equivalent segments, use template speech patterns, and oddly fails to create proper grammar at points).
This game’s story, despite the sexual humor, is very much geared toward the crowd that loved Ever17, I/O, and the Seasons series. It twists your brain up in knots trying to wrap your thoughts around the explanations of what the protagonist and his friends thing is going on, and every time you think you’ve grasped it, you end up with a new development that leaves you in the dust.
There is a lot of H content in this game, though, for those who prefer the low-H approach most games of the type have tended towards in the past. A lot of this is because of the protagonist’s personality as written, so I have no choice but to shrug and look helpless if you want to complain about that aspect.
There are a lot of excellent emotional moments throughout the game, but I was honestly getting fatigued toward the end, due to the amount of information they kept dumping on me. For people who enjoy this kind of thing, it is a drug, but I honestly hate having people infodump on me to this extent. The changing theories throughout the story are interesting intellectually, but I honestly didn’t go into this game with the expectation of the kind of experience I got. As a result, I ended up becoming more tired than I anticipated.
There are numerous battles of wits throughout the game, which will probably make some of you excited. Some of them are really complex and multilayered (the protagonist is extremely intelligent, as is his enemy), and even I found them interesting at times. I will say I did get tired of wheels within wheels after a while, though, lol.
Overall, this is a game that the people who love complex stories will either love or hate… they’ll either love it for the complexity or hate the way the humor interacts with the story as a whole. I suggest just sitting back and enjoying the ride. I will say that I didn’t figure out the central truth until the second to the last chapter, which is extremely unusual for me in this kind of situation, so you can look forward to the mystery aspects.
Shin Koihime Musou Kakumei – Souten no Haou
This VN is a rewrite and update of the original Wei path for Shin Koihime Musou, with added characters and a greatly altered text. In addition, the battle system was revamped completely (it doesn’t even really resemble the old one).
First, I should say that Shin Koihime, unlike the original Koihime Musou, is an incredibly well-written work with solid writing and scenario design. It has its flaws – for one thing, I didn’t see the point in making Keifa a heroine, though her scenes are rofl-worthy at times – but the game as a whole is one of the best ‘guy goes to another world and makes his own way’ games out there.
Of the three paths in that game, Cao Cao’s Wei was probably the most interesting in the details. It goes into the minutiae of building a nation to a degree that the other two paths don’t, and Karin (Cao Cao) has a far more practical approach to building her country up than the other two. In particular, she doesn’t hesitate to use Kazuto’s knowledge where it might be useful (though not the technology or historical knoweldge), and Kazuto is far more active in the nation-building in this one than he was in the other two paths.
In this game, that aspect hasn’t changed… if anything, that aspect has been enhanced immensely by an almost complete rewrite of the first seven chapters or so (there are sixteen in total). Kazuto gets involved in almost every aspect of building up Wei as time goes on, and the new heroines serve to connect him to his various roles in an interesting manner.
The rewritten story itself is also far more interesting and complex than the original Shin Koihime story, the added characters adding flavor, though there are points here and there where a new heroine simply takes on a role one of the original heroines had previously. In particular, the parts of the story involving the Imperial Court are much more detailed, due to the addition of characters such as the Empress, her consort, and the great general He Jin. (The Empress and her younger sister are apparently destined to be future Shu path heroines, as are several other new characters that appear in the Imperial Court early on).
However, the differences in the main story start to go down in number late in the game, and by the time the Battle of Red Cliff is over, things have pretty much gone back to the way they were in the original game.
The scenes for the new heroines, read between chapters, are of equal or better quality than the ones in the original game. However, the old heroine scenes are pretty much the same (except for updated visuals) if you ignore the fact that sometimes new heroines take on roles that old heroines had in the previous game at times.
Perhaps the only real negative impact of this polishing of an old title was the ‘revamped’ battle system. I’ll be straight with you… I hate games with excessive random elements. The battle system in this is a combination of strategy and skill card battles that is immensely irritating to me. The randomness of the skill cards often leads to turns where you have no choice but to do nothing, and the battles themselves just don’t have much of a strategic element outside of ‘look at the timeline’. There is a skip function, which I went ahead and used after the first half of the game, because I was tired of the battle system.
The ending is perhaps the part altered the most besides the opening. In the original, the ending stops right after the final battle, but in this new ending, it extends far beyond that and gives you an idea that there might be something to look forward to, later on.
Overall, this game was a definite improvement over the original Wei path. It has its flaws, but those flaws are more in the gameplay portions than the story, so I honestly feel I can praise it without any real hesitation. For those who have yet to play Shin Kohime, you might consider playing this instead of the original, and you might also consider waiting for the other paths. For those who played the original already, I suggest you wait until the other paths are out… it is more than a little frustrating not to be able to play the other paths now, hahaha.
Ouchi ni Kaeru made ga Mashimaro Desu
This is the latest VN from Marmalade, the company that brought us the Primal x Hearts series. To be straight with you about this… those who liked the Primal x Hearts series will like this game, most likely. The protagonist is of the same general ‘type’ as the protagonist from those two games, it is based in the same general area of the city, and the atmosphere/comedy style/etc are identical.
There are differences though… the biggest one is that there is almost no emphasis on the school. Slice-of-life portions of this VN are mostly based outside the school, with the majority taking place in the cake shop that is the center of the story.
This game falls into a sub-genre of moege known as the ‘sweets shop romance’. This type of VN is generally excessively moe-romance focused, is virtually brainless, and frequently tries to bury you in sweets-making trivia and mindless cuteness. Thankfully, this game escapes most of those archetypical turns, primarily because it actually has something approaching depth.
The game begins with the protagonist, who is homeless (living in the park in a cardboard box), being picked up and brought back to the cake shop by Kanon, the main heroine of the game. Naturally, some antics follow (primarily because of how dirty he is), but he eventually ends up living above the shop as a tenant+worker at the cake shop. Despite the expectations of the non-Kanon girls, he turns out to be immensely useful, popping out ideas and taking actions to restore the faltering cake shop (which has been in the red since Kanon’s parents died the previous year).
The common route is primarily taken up with the protagonist helping Kanon and the other heroines to rebuild the business, building bonds with the other people of the shopping arcade at the same time. Since the protagonist is fairly ingenious, he is able to, with the help of the girls, restructure the business completely, causing it to make a profit… whereupon things immediately turn to the romance aspect, lol.
I can’t help but feel that the common route was the best part of this game. The romantic parts of this VN are cute at first… but they are interminably long as well, in the style that was common a few years ago, where massive lumps of ichaicha enveloped every granule of story. Not to mention the long, excessively hot h-scenes (Marmalade’s h-scenes in general are excessive, but this one was particularly bad when compared to the Primal x Hearts games).
The endings are actually decent, though I really wish they were a bit ‘longer term’. Nonetheless, I was something close to satisfied with them.
Overall, the game was reasonably fun to play, but the way the romance was handled was nothing to write home about. The common route was excellent, so it is possible to power through the heroine routes based on love for the heroines built up in the common route. Nonetheless, I felt it sad that the game sort of stuttered there.
Grisaia Phantom Trigger Volume 3
Mmm… there really isn’t any difference between this one and the previous two chapters, to be honest. Sure, there are new characters… but it is like watching an episode of an anime where each one stands alone to a certain extent. I know the characters, I know the setting, and I knew I was going to like it.
So… quite naturally, I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed it. This was a fun read, but I find it interesting that each of these episodes has a number of CGs equivalent to that of your average charage, despite being only a few hours long. That says a lot about how much money they are pouring into this game, but it does lead me to question just why they didn’t wait until they had a lot more done before they started releasing episodes.
If you liked the previous episodes, you’ll like this one. If you didn’t, you won’t. It is fairly straightforward. I did like the Black Lagoon references in this episode, though...lol
Sakura no Mori Dreamers 2
Sakura no Mori Dreamers 2 is a sequel based off of the protagonist not having chosen any of the girls’ as a heroine in the previous game. It is split into two parts… a mysterious world where Madoka hasn’t died and the protagonist was never consumed by revenge, and the world where he pursued his revenge against Madoka’s killer (the world of the original game). These events happen in parallel.
My first statement on what happens in this VN is that… they added more weird to it. It was already weird, but the new ‘red dream’ makes the dreams in the original game pale in comparison.
That said, this feels almost identical subjectively to the original, and as an extension of the original’s story it works just fine. However, don’t expect this VN to stand on its own, since it requires you to have experienced the fullness of the hunt for the serial killer Joker from the beginning. Quality-wise it is about at the same level, with the only difference being the alternate timeline and the presence of a harem ending, hahaha.
VN of the Month July 2017- Hikari no Umi no Apeiria
June 2017 Final
Haruoto Alice Gram
Haruoto Alice Gram is the latest release by Nanawind, the makers of Alia’s Carnival and Yuyukana. This one is based in the same setting and shares a few characters with Alia’s Carnival. To be specific, both games have the Arcane Cards which pull out a person’s possibilities and manifest them as a semi-magical ability called ‘future science’.
Unlike Alia’s Carnival, where the characters compete using their abilities, the protagonist and his friends only use their abilities in secret and the general population of the school is unaware of them. The protagonist, Soutarou has a card that increases his ability to concentrate by an immense degree, in exchange for pushing him to the point of exhaustion.
I’m going to be blunt… this game is immensely long for a charage. The common route is much longer than the heroine routes (for me about eleven hours, which probably means an average of twenty to twenty five hours for most people) and there are five relatively short (say two to three hours each) heroine routes. The length of this game led me to feel a bit impatient by the end… and I honestly felt that, for a game that had science-fantasy as a genre, it was less than impressive in that respect.
Soutarou has one of those qualities I inherently dislike in a protagonist with powers… an unwillingness to use them unless really needed and no curiosity about their limits. In my opinion, this game would have been a great deal more interesting if he ran himself ragged by overusing the ability, rather than only using it five times in total in the common route.
That’s not to say this game is terrible… it has its high points. The heroines are very well-developed during the common route, which gets most of that messy stuff out of the way before you pick one of them, and they were attractive enough individually that I actually changed my mind several times about which one I wanted to read first.
Sadly, I can’t really say the routes do the heroines justice. Oh, the routes deal with their issues… but they can’t really be said to be satisfying. They tend to reach a climax just a bit too fast after the slower pacing of the common route, and there is no aftermath, the after-stories just being h-scenes with no context.
Did I enjoy this game? At times… but the sheer length of this game is daunting, considering most of it is slice-of-life and hints of personal history that only get revealed in some of the paths. I honestly felt extremely tired of the game by the time I finished, and I doubt I’ll ever look at it again, now that I’m done. lol
No VN of the Month for June 2017
Edit: Yes yes, I'm adding yet more text onto a post that was already monstrous in size... but I felt a need to actually insert my own voice in after simply copy-pasting all the posts I wrote up while Fuwa was down... June was an incredibly sub-par month, whereas July had a lot of releases... but only two that really would have ever had a chance at VN of the Month on their own... Kakumei and Apeiria. However, by all rights, it wouldn't have made sense to make Kakumei VN of the month, since it is essentially just a remake of the original Shin Koihime Wei path. While it was rewritten, it simply reused too much text to be considered a standalone VN of the Month candidate.
In particular, I was disappointed that they kept the story flow for the last third of the game the same, since that was the part I thought needed changing the most if they were going to do a remake that would fit in with the Eiyuutan games, which was what I assumed they were aiming for. New characters, like Shan and the various Cao siblings, had a very strong impact on the first two-thirds of the game, to the point where a lot of it was only recognizable at key points.
Oh well. I'm still looking forward to the Wu and Shu paths...lol