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Plk_Lesiak last won the day on January 23

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About Plk_Lesiak

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  • Birthday 05/31/1989

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    Anime & VNs, writing, popcultural studies
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  1. No, but I think Key VNs would generally be among those that threat their high school setting more seriously than most. They're also distinctly devoid of sex-appeal, so ultimately everything is in order.
  2. Hey, your VNDB list is... Quite something. Anyway, I think I have a different problem, because as I'm getting old(er) and becoming more of certified failure at life, reading coming-of-age high school stories becomes kind of taxing. The heroines themselves though, they only rarely feel like actual highschoolers. For example, if I remember well, the main cast of Flowers are all high school freshmen, so 15-years-olds. However, they neither look nor act the part. The notion of age is all so abstract in both VNs and much of anime that I'll probably have to get much older to start feeling that dissonance. On the other hand, I don't really get off to otaku media in the first place, so the "cute little animal" kind of appeal shouldn't spoil my enjoyment. I'll skip the h-scenes either way and the romance should still be satisfying enough.
  3. Greetings from China!

    Welcome to Fuwa! Cool to see someone from China in our humble community, that seems even rarer than Japanese VN fans visiting us. Hope you'll find it interesting.
  4. The nature of an infodump

    Well, of course a prologue wouldn't work in a mystery horror story, but that's not what I was talking about. It's particularly meaningful for high-concept fantasy and sci-fi world that can be confusing to the player if it's not explained properly. Giving just enough context to make it comprehensible at the beginning, and minimize the need for infodumps when the action picks up pace is pretty optimal. In the case of your story, I simply think it could've done with a lot less info in general. I'd like it more being vague than just explaining the lore this way. That is a good point, but if you think of it as another method of "scattering" the infodumps to keep the complexity of the world without creating the walls of info in the middle of the story it should still be worth it. I also don't like encyclopedias if they contain information actually crucial to understanding the story – as you said, it can be cool for fleshing out your world, but it can't be a primary method. ...I might also be speaking from one specific trauma of an EVN with a world that was pretty much incomprehensible because of lack of proper exposition, and with encyclopedia which created more questions than it answered. A good prologue could've done miracles for that game.
  5. The nature of an infodump

    If it flaws properly with the story, I wouldn't even call it an infodump. I think when people talk about those, they mostly mean the first kind you mentioned: just walls of information bringing the story to a hold for a significant amount of time. But for this reason, I kind of feel an infodumping prologue is underutilized in VNs. You can quite easily avoid putting clunky exposition in the middle of your game by explaining the basics of the universe at the beginning. Maybe devs avoid it because it's cliched to do a narrated introductions like that, but particularly in EVNs, I feel like a lot of storytelling issues and confusion could be avoided that way...
  6. Hi!

    Well, this thread went places. Anyway, welcome to Fuwa! I'm just finishing Lyn;Lin and I like what it was going for at first, but... Why the infodumps? That's not how lovecraftian horror works. The moment the game starts explaining everything through plain narration, all the tension and mystery evaporates from it. :C
  7. VNs with good world building.

    I think that worldbuilding in most media has two main challenges and how they deal with them decides whether I'd consider them successful. The first is keeping the world believable and consistent – you'll notice that most media, especially the relatively short-form ones such as movies and animation, don't really give a shit about this aspect. The worlds they create won't survive any kind of deeper scrutiny and they rely a lot on the suspension of disbelief and the watchers/readers not caring about smaller details. Also, if something is made into a longer series, there's a good chance it will destroy its own lore and rules of its world for the sake of convenience – look at Mass Effect for example, with the third part ignoring tons of pre-established events and lore. Or the new Star Wars trilogy for some extreme self-mutilation of a fictional universe. Thus, actual effort being put into creating a consistent world is something I very much appretiate. The second part is the delivery of the information, which in literature and VNs has a unique risk of turning into massive infodumps – after all, you have all the time in the world to throw in a few tomes of encyclopedia between the story events to make sure the player doesn't get lost. And If the writers really suck, it might also become the Awkward Expository DialogueTM, which can easily become even more unreadable than plain infodumps. Building up your fictional world without using either of those two "techniques", but through natural-feeling events and conversations is hard, but definitely most satisfying. And having said all this, one game that I think did some really cool stuff in this regard and that will not get brought up by anyone else is Sable's Grimoire. It's all about worldbuilding and does its best to convey it all through the protagonist's and heroines' stories, rather than just bombarding you with textbook-like excerpts. And it has some really, really cool elements to its modern-fantasy setting.
  8. Chemically Bonded (Western VN Review)

    Ds-sans is a British VN developer whose work I've been following since the times I started writing my blog, first being charmed by his free romance game Sounds of Her Love, (check out my review of it here). Released on Steam March 2017, this very tame and heartwarming, small love story was extremely by-the-numbers and rather cliched, but stood out through its solid execution and likeable heroine. Later, I’ve checked out this author’s first VN, Lost Impressions, which also proved enjoyable despite being something of a mess visually and including edgy story elements typical for many beginner VN writers – a rather standard amateur project, but showing traces of genuine talent. As you can imagine, I was quite interested in reading ds-sans’ first commercial VN, Chemically Bonded, announced and successfully crowdfunded in late 2017. It promised to continue the wholesome, romantic climate of Sounds of Her Love, but with a more in-depth, branching story and better production values – pretty much a product catered exactly to someone like me, who enjoys fluffy slice-of-life content in VNs over pretty much everything else. After a full year of delays, the game finally came out on November 2019, proving to be… Very much a mixed bag. But, what could go wrong with a concept this straightforward and such a promising background? The game is full to the brim with trivial internal monologues from the protagonist, narrating mundane events and expressing the same exact sentiments towards the heroines over and over again Chemically Bonded is a story of an unassuming Japanese high-schooler, whose boring routine is turned upside down when he’s invited by Kiyoko, the best student in his school, to join the science club. With her being the only other member, the protagonist is pretty much guilt-tripped into accompanying her in the various “club activities”, and by this is thrown right into the center of a conflict between Kiyoko and Naomi, the captain of the track team and quite likely the most popular girl in her year. The two heroines, formerly friends, fell apart in a dramatic manner, and our lead takes upon himself to bring them back together. Here we encounter the first of the game’s major issues: the (nameable) protagonist is the blankest of blank slates, with less background information and personality than the average male lead in a Sakura game. He apparently also doesn’t have anything going on in his life apart from dealing with Kiyoko and Naomi, as we never observe him interacting with his family or other people in school in a meaningful manner. This really detracts from the experience, as even the Sounds of Her Love protagonist, still arguably a self-insert, had a decently-defined family that played into the story and provoked fun dialogue, making him feel like an actual person. His characterisation also made it somewhat clear why he connected so well with the heroine – here, there’s pretty much nothing meaningful that can be said about the lead and it’s hard to tell why the girls are even into him. There’s one more, deeply problematic thing about the protagonist, which is also the biggest issue the whole game suffers from – his monologues. While visual novels strive on dialogue and meaningful interactions between the key characters, Chemically Bonded’s idea of core VN content is overly-colourful narration of trivial, everyday occurrences, and constant repetition of a few uninspired statements about the heroines’ emotional state and the protagonist’s intention to help them. It’s very hard to truly communicate just how broken the game’s writing is in the first two acts (first 3-4 hours of the game) and how much it damages the pacing of the story. Moments that push the plot forward are drowned in countless lined about dust particles dancing in the sun or descriptions of how deeply heartbroken either Kiyoko or Naomi is. It also borderline-ignores the visual input of the game’s assets, often describing things that are in plain sight or obvious from the scene’s context. The situation improves significantly after the breakthrough is achieved in the conflict between the girls and they start interacting with each other a lot more, but the experience of getting to that point is generally not that great. Naomi’s tsundere persona wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t this exaggerated and inconsistent – even with all the explanations for her behaviour, she’s just not relatable or endearing Another thing that starts broken and gets (slightly) better over time is the tsundere heroine, Naomi – in the opening segments, she’s juggling at least three different personas in a completely incoherent manner, switching between abusive, boastful and flustered modes in a way that is neither believable nor amusing to watch. The game makes a point of her initial behaviour being fake, but this doesn’t help it feel any more fluid or cleverly-written, and even the overall very talented Amber Barile, who voices the character, couldn’t make the confusing, stuttered dialogue sound right. This also changes after the second act, when Naomi mostly drops the pretences and only playfully re-enacts elements of her “tsun” persona, but it’s a bit too little, too late to make her arc truly satisfying. Kiyoko, on the other hand, is a fine heroine – the science theme in her story is paper-thin, rarely going beyond chemistry puns, but her cheerful personality and her relationship with the protagonist are fairly believable. As someone heartbroken and isolated from her former friends, I can see her falling for someone who treated her without judgment and offered his support. At the same time Naomi, essentially a school celebrity, have very few reasons to show her “dere” side so quickly (it’s there nearly from the beginning), especially if we consider that the game’s plot plays out literally within a few weeks. If I have any problem with Kiyoko, it would sadly be her VA – at the beginning, she sounds more like a small child than a high-schooler, and even later her tone and mannerisms hardly match the sharp, energetic personality the game is trying to communicate. Voices of the secondary characters (all dialogue in the game is voiced), by the way, are just fine – nothing more and nothing less. If you’re waiting for me to stop complaining, we’re nearly there, but… I have to say a few things about secondary characters and cameos. While the Sounds of Her Love heroine Ceri showing up is pretty fun (also because she’s simply an endearing and well-designed character), other supporting characters which received sprites (three in total, random schoolmates/teenagers Ken & Sae and a teacher, Mr Kabeer) didn’t seem to serve a real function in the story. They were sometimes used for humour, but most of the jokes didn’t land well enough to by themselves justify their presence – all three feel more like artefacts of the development process that planned for their inclusion early on and then failed to find a proper role for them to play. In a way, this is also the feeling the whole Naomi route gives out – because of how the game was conceptualized her romance arc was necessary to make, but I haven’t seen in it an actual idea on how to execute it in an effective and cohesive manner. The supposed feelings between her and the protagonist show up practically out of nowhere and most scenes with her are narratively empty, adding nothing to the story. In result, it simply doesn’t work as a romance plot, in contrast to the reasonably satisfying Kiyoko’s arc, which is maybe still a bit rushed, but goes through all the steps necessary to get you emotionally invested in the relationship. Starting with Naomi’s scenario was both a curse and a blessing for me, as it initially soured me towards the whole game, but also let me skip a lot of repeated narration while reading Kiyoko’s arc and fully enjoy its genuinely good moments, which are basically the best narrative elements of Chemically Bonded. Naomi is also much more tolerable as a secondary character and honestly, she should’ve stayed as such, with Kiyoko’s story getting more development. The one thing Chemically Bonded definitely got right is the visual quality and aesthetic – if only the story was this consistent... Reminding me slightly of PixelFade’s Crystalline, the thing that works the most in Chemically Bonded is its visual quality – being something of ds-sans' speciality, the level of detail and visual cohesion of all the assets are pretty great. The heroine sprites have a very good degree of variation, with clothes and hairstyles changing depending on the situation, along with a proper set of facial expressions. It’s clear a lot of effort went into this aspect of the VN and helps to offset the very limited number of dedicated CGs, mostly present in the introductory scenes and crucial romantic moments. I still think a few of the more casual scenes could've gained a lot from some additional illustrations, but the quality of what’s already there is hard to argue with. Many immersive details, like a believable smartphone interface showing up for texting and calls, are also present in the game, even though I feel they weren’t used to their full potential. For example, it’s a shame that text messages the characters exchange aren’t more involved, as it would be a great method to expand on their relationships without using the expensive, voiced dialogue – these, however, are nitpicks rather than serious complaints. The game’s original soundtrack is overall very good, although at times misused: while I fully enjoyed the ambient themes in more relaxed parts of the game, when the heavier moments kicked in the music tended to go overly-dramatic, to the point of distracting me a bit. What are my final thoughts on Chemically Bonded then? When I started reading it, I was genuinely afraid it will prove to be a complete waste of time, but Kiyoko’s arc ultimately proved satisfying and I’m willing to recommend the game just so you can experience it. Naomi’s romance is better left ignored and because that means skipping quite a lot of content, it’s probably a good idea to wait for a significant discount before buying this VN. At the same time, I’m pretty sure that ds-sans himself is very much aware of the problems CB suffered from and he’ll be able to correct his mistakes in his future project – despite this one definitely being a disappointment, I’m very curious what he’ll come up with next. Final Rating: 2,5/5 Pros: + High-quality, stylistically consistent visuals + Good soundtrack + Kiyoko’s arc Cons: - Poorly-written and bloated narration - Weak pacing in the first half of the story - Weak and inconsistent characterisation of Naomi VNDB Page Buy Chemically Bonded on Steam
  9. What are you listening to right now?

    So, it looks I can never get enough of Leo Ieiri's voice. This song is pretty cool too... Just why it's not on Spotify? Edit: And something a bit more serious. :3
  10. Most disappointing VNs of 2019?

    Well, I liked the side romance too, but the adventure part... Maybe it's just not what I want from a VN, but the PG-rated fantasy action felt way too sanitized and by-the-numbers. In like one short moment it created any feeling of danger and never showed anything cool when it goes to the fights or challenges. The popcultural referenced had a subtlety of a sledgehammer, and still are one of the few things I remembered from the whole VN, through the virtue of being obnoxious. It was quite frankly the most narratively-empty VN I've ever read outside of the "very short" category, although I can see someone enjoying it for the chill climate and the aesthetic.
  11. So, as we're still in the time of yearly recollections and were talking recently about VNs we liked the most, what are the titles that crushed your hopes and dreams? Which ones were not plain bad, but rather fell short of your's and everyone else's expectations, to the point of turning your hearts into an emotionless void? For me, the answer is pretty simple: Crystalline and (sorry @ds-sans :() Chemically Bonded. Both games were really well-produced visually and had good sound designs, but absolutely fell apart when it goes to telling a story. The main difference between them is that while Crystalline was absolutely devoid of meaningful plot and tension, Chemically Bonded made a few bizarre missteps with its writing and structure of the story, breaking the flow of the romance, particularly in the tsundere heroine's route. Neither were anywhere close to being among worst EVNs of the year, but definitely had most wasted potential. So, what are your guys' greatest regrets of 2019 in VN form? :3
  12. Your Favorite VN of 2019?

    Scanning through my VNDB I realized how few fresh releases I actually read in 2019... From the few I can actually talk about, Heart of the Woods and The Language of Love would be my favourites. And if I had to choose one favourite (as opposed to "the best VN"), it would be... The Language of Love. It just resonated with me in multiple ways and did the thing ebi-hime does best: conveying emotions and themes that are more or less absent from your typical visual novel storytelling.
  13. Fuwanovel Confessions

    Or a dozen times, if we count this thread. '^^ Indeed, this game looks pretty crazy. Also quite incomprehensible at first glance... If it doesn't force you to play everyday though, it's already a lot better than pretty much all mobage. I genuinely miss Azur Lane and my waifu armada, but I definitely couldn't keep up with the daily chores forever. They were still fun most of the time, but it's very liberating to not check the game every 10 mins. I`ve realized that while it didn't look very high-maintenance, I couldn't help but minmax it all the time and I ended up spending much of my free time on it. Which wouldn't be that much of a problem if there wasn't other stuff I really wanted to keep working on and which ultimately is a bit more meaningful than marrying warships. Even extremely cute, well designed warships... Tirpitz... :'( I also don't regret the $50 I' be spent on it in 4 months, it was pretty proportional to the enjoyment factor I've got from it. I'm not even buying VNs lately, with just how much of them I have in my backlog and how many still get sent to me for review... In the end, though, I always feel that moments when I cut down on gaming are my better ones. If I can just not go back to games when I'm really down/demotivated...
  14. What are you listening to right now?

    The Initial D marathon still going on...
  15. Hi Guys

    Welcome to Fuwa! Sadly, I wouldn't get my hopes too high about finding translators, not many people with that kind of skill and free time are left in the community. Still, I wish you luck and in the meantime, don't be shy to join discussions etc.