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Sable’s Grimoire (Western VN review + developer interview)


Plk_Lesiak

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Zetsubou, a developer and writer involved in many popular EVN titles is someone whose work many fans of the genre might be very familiar with, but not necessarily even knowing about it. While have made a few relatively successful projects of his own, such as Sickness or Tomboys Need Love Too!, many of his commissioned works, such as Razzart’s Love Ribbon gained even more recognition. For this reason, among others, there was relatively little fanfare around the release of his latest project, Sable’s Grimoire, in May this year. However, there are many reasons to consider this project as a particularly notable one – the 350k-words-long, modern-fantasy tale about a young mage entering an academy filled with demi-humans is rather far-detached from the usual EVN formula, both by its scale and its dominant themes. 

             Of course, scale by itself does not have to be a positive, just as unusual story elements don't automatically make a VN interesting to read. Does Zetsubou's largest project to date have other merits beyond its impressive word-count and interesting premise, and does its overall quality justify the 25+ hours time investment that is required to fully read through it? In my opinion, answer to all these questions is: yes.

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

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17 minutes ago, Mr Poltroon said:

Lack of proper romance!?!? Absolutely disgusting.

Look at me just skimming those bullet points.

Well, it turned out to be quite a long article, you probably won't be the only one. ;p

Spoiler

And well, I wrote it more as a warning for potential buyers than a genuine negative, but if I had to be very specific, I would phrase that point as "Even less romance than I reasonably hoped for after learning that the romance is not really the point, even in the routes that pretty much asks for a little bit of warmth". Because in my mind the ending of "the girl is very much into Sable and Sable is coerced into not pushing her away or is slightly annoyed by her" is still way less compelling than "Sable is not really into romance but is starting to warm up to the heroine after all they went through" would be. I mean, any kind of romantic gesture would do - in the routes it's shown that he's not completely incapable of making those, but in the endings he basically turns into a block of ice. :P

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Edited by Plk_Lesiak
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On 31/08/2018 at 9:42 PM, Plk_Lesiak said:

Well, it turned out to be quite a long article, you probably won't be the only one. ;p

  Reveal hidden contents
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For whatever reason, I've been interested in this VN since I saw this review, but I clearly didn't read it because I didn't know Sable was the protagonist.

Anyways, I'm finally reading this and goodness me how I appreciate a magic school story of this scale with loads of characters and interactions. I haven't read any route yet. In fact, I have no idea how I'd get into a route, since the choices I've made so far have put me all over the place talking to all sorts.
I'm properly warned not to expect romance, and frankly I'm not looking for it if the game isn't trying to tease it (as I've found out, that's the reason I tend to dislike a lack of romance; it's because it's almost always teased and used as a hook to keep one reading until the end).

Sable is an absolutely fantastic protagonist as he is. From his interests to his interactions, where he's too honest for his own good and where he gets the exact same impressions from conversations as I do ("Something was strange about her today." or "She has a number of flaws, but maliciousness isn't one of them.").

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1 hour ago, Mr Poltroon said:

I'm properly warned not to expect romance, and frankly I'm not looking for it if the game isn't trying to tease it (as I've found out, that's the reason I tend to dislike a lack of romance; it's because it's almost always teased and used as a hook to keep one reading until the end).

I'll be curious what are your impressions when you actually get deeper into the game. This is a pretty unusual story in that while it isn't completely devoid of romantic tension, whenever it happens you can expect Sable to actively resist it, as romance is way down on his list of priorities. It's somewhat SNAFU-esque, but without misanthropy being the driving motivation of the protagonist. :P And in the sequels expanding on the specific routes, at least two of which are in the work by Zetsubou, the romance finally blooms to some extent. I personally thought the game made it pretty clear with the flow of the story that romance is not the point even when it's most present, but I imagine many people would be confused why a game all about heroine routes, some of whom are obviously into Sable, handle things in such a way. :>

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55 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

I'll be curious what are your impressions when you actually get deeper into the game. This is a pretty unusual story in that while it isn't completely devoid of romantic tension, whenever it happens you can expect Sable to actively resist it, as romance is way down on his list of priorities. It's somewhat SNAFU-esque, but without misanthropy being the driving motivation of the protagonist. :P And in the sequels expanding on the specific routes, at least two of which are in the work by Zetsubou, the romance finally blooms to some extent. I personally thought the game made it pretty clear with the flow of the story that romance is not the point even when it's most present, but I imagine many people would be confused why a game all about heroine routes, some of whom are obviously into Sable, handle things in such a way. :>

I finished Tix's route, which I'm not sure the game even had when you reviewed it.

Regardless, as odd as it is, I both love romance and intimacy and the direct opposite: 4Ir1mpF.png?1

 

Sable is reminding me of Nemui from Mutiny!!. A character I deeply loved for being entirely disinterested in sex in a game and world completely all for it. She was wonderful, as is Sable. As you've said, Sable isn't aromantic, but it's nowhere near his current priorities.

Tix's route

Spoiler

ends with the promise of the pixie attempting to get him to fall for her within the next two years, and nothing I've seen so far makes me think that it won't turn out to be the case, in the future, after much interaction.

 

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On 10/07/2020 at 10:18 AM, Plk_Lesiak said:

I'll be curious what are your impressions when you actually get deeper into the game. This is a pretty unusual story in that while it isn't completely devoid of romantic tension, whenever it happens you can expect Sable to actively resist it, as romance is way down on his list of priorities. It's somewhat SNAFU-esque, but without misanthropy being the driving motivation of the protagonist. :P And in the sequels expanding on the specific routes, at least two of which are in the work by Zetsubou, the romance finally blooms to some extent. I personally thought the game made it pretty clear with the flow of the story that romance is not the point even when it's most present, but I imagine many people would be confused why a game all about heroine routes, some of whom are obviously into Sable, handle things in such a way. :>

I've completed Lisha's as well as Rei's and Eth's. I have to admit, from your words, I had the impression that Sable's actions would mean there'd be no romance, but that is clearly untrue.

As harem/love triangle anime/manga have (unfortunately) taught us, romance does not require the involved parties to be dating or even recognise feelings for one another. This game does that in spades, with Sable being loved and loving in return, though not in a romantic way. The routes often end with Sable paired up with somebody who has affection for him and to whom he cannot at this point avoid showing affection to. His intent may not be romantic, but in practice it contains all the feelings and affections I hope to attain from regular romance stories (and which sometimes are absent!). I have zero cause for complaint. Lisha's route, for instance, was beautiful with what took place within, as far as feeding my need for trust and affection.

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11 hours ago, Mr Poltroon said:

Sable has no Grimoire 1/10.

But he's definitely going to make one! At least in Drakan's route. He doesn't want to disappoint his mother-in-law. Mostly because she would kill him the moment he does. *Happy Loving Family intensifies* :chaika:

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