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Plk_Lesiak last won the day on November 4

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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. New Project + Recruitment

    You should definitely start with something short, like a free doujin! Koi Iro Crescendo for example! ^^ My fetish for obscure yuri games aside, good luck with your project.
  2. Surprise landing and whatnot [Re:CAP++]

    Hey, you missed the part when we resurrected the main site for one week so it could die again, full of false hope. That was kind of brutal, like something from Maggot Baits. ... Welcome back, Maggie! Cool to see you again. ^^
  3. Maggot Baits (JP VN Review)

    Maggot Baits is something of a Holy Grail of dark eroge, highly anticipated guro fans within the Western VN community and often hyped as possibly the greatest achievement of the company that produced it, Clock Up. As one the most gruesome VNs ever produced, and quite likely the most brutal one ever brought to the West, it contains dozens upon dozens of violent sex scenes, all accompanied by intricate CGs, with small variations in them so numerable that they sum to nearly 2500 unique illustrations. All of that placed in a highly-unique, modern-fantasy setting populated by amazingly-crafted characters and tackling interesting philosophical and religious topics. While it’s pretty much the furthest possible thing from what I usually write about on this blog, few games intrigued me as much as this one, particularly after my inconsistent, but extremely interesting experience with Clock Up’s another famous title, euphoria. Everything I’ve heard about Maggot Baits suggested that it was both more extreme and overall better than studio’s other bestseller, and after reading it to completion, I felt the need to share my thoughts about it in detail. Both because it’s a pretty fascinating case of strengths and pitfalls of this breed of eroge, and to warn those interested in it as a piece of storytelling – while in many ways an incredible achievement, this game is extremely hard to recommend for a “normie” reader such as myself. Why is that exactly? Before I go into story details, it’s most important to deal with Maggot Baits’ greatest issue – its structure and general storytelling formula. This game is, at its core, a guro nukige and it’s incredibly dedicated to this template. It throws h-scenes at you at very consistent intervals, disregarding whatever might be going on in the story and sacrificing any sense of pacing or tension so it can constantly offer a new piece of violent hentai. Quite often, the scenes are not important for, or even directly connected to what’s happening in the plot, pretty much pausing the whole narrative to insert a new piece of fanservice. In this, it goes even further than euphoria, which did a much better job intertwining its scenes with the story and had a bit more restraint in the most dramatic and meaningful parts of the plot. Maggot Baits even goes to the length of adding a major side-branch in the first chapter of the story, which is nothing but 3-4 hours of futanari porn leading to a bad ending. All of it narratively empty and pretty much derailing your experience if you expect any kind of interesting reveals or a meaningful conclusion within it. I still don’t understand why it was a part of the main story, and especially inserted so early in the game, before you build any connection to the characters involved or can understand the full implications of what is happening in those scenes. Maggot Baits’ possibly greatest strength lays in its characters – both “heroes” and “villains” have complex motivations and their actions, as cruel as they might be, are hardly ever plain good or evil There’s also one more crucial issue that should be made clear for anyone approaching this game simply looking for a dark, gore-filled story. The fetish-serving character of Maggot Baits means it’s full of a very specific brand of gore – sexualized violence on female characters. The near-immortality of the witches is a useful gimmick allowing the game's creators to push the abuse to its logical boundaries without killing off characters every time (although even this goes with a caveat that rape is way more prevalent in the h-scenes than actual bloody torture). While there’s a bit of general blood and guts, and a bit of chuunige-style fighting, most of it is conveyed in the form of text rather than shown in CGs. The massive focus on porn also means the actual story content is smaller and less developed than both the length of the game (20+ hours) and the incredible amount of visual assets would suggest. I’ve spent hours simply skipping through h-scenes that didn’t seem to have any plot relevance and quickly scanning through those that I felt could offer some bits of worthwhile information or character development, trying to get to the next story bit. While in euphoria one could argue there was some kind of balance between the story and hentai, here all the efforts were ultimately aimed at serving the guro porn, with the narrative being the icing on top of it and never really prioritized. And that’s to the point where even some guro fans might find the experience a bit overindulgent and tedious – there’s only that much stimuli you can take in before going numb. At the same time, it’s absolutely impossible to argue with the game’s production quality. The writing is excellent, including the greatest h-scene text I’ve seen to date. While the visuals left me mostly indifferent after a short while, despite their truly extreme and detailed nature, the gruesome, vivid descriptions accompanying them did a good job at keeping me uneasy. In many ways it surpassed writing of euphoria, really focusing on the psychological dynamic of the torture scenes rather than just absurd lines spewed by the heroines (those are still present, but I’m not sure that part of h-scene dialogue can be done in a way that doesn’t feel absurd to me). All of it is accompanied by extremely unsettling and suggestive voice acting and sounds, both done in a way that is probably hard to find anywhere outside of Clock Up games. Music is properly gritty and dynamic, underlining the brutal and hopeless atmosphere of the whole experience. While the game’s writing is, for the most part, stellar, even if it can’t escape some awkward exposition and over-the-top edginess But, I haven’t even started on what this game is exactly about? Maybe I’m subconsciously avoiding this part, as it’s both not easy to explain and hard to talk about without spoilers. The general outline features Tsunuga Shougo, a former policeman, on an extremely-bloody path of revenge against powers controlling Kantou’s Pandemonium – a lawless city carved out of modern Japan, infested by powerful, supernatural beings known as Disaster’s Witches. Those apparently immortal women, unbeatable through conventional means, are what transformed the Pandemonium into an exterritorial den of vice and murder, populated by the worst scum this world knows – their origins and purpose, however, are a complete mystery to both the outside world and the witches themselves. During the game’s plot Tsunuga’s self-destructive quest, aided by a few of the witches and most closely connected to the one known as Carol, will (accidentally) uncover the meaning behind the existence of Pandemonium and all the insane happenings within it. And all of this happens with the brutal "witch hunts", capturing the seemingly-invincible women and thoroughly testing the limits of their immortal bodies, happening in the background. The setup, despite relying on some tired eroge tropes (primarily “the magic of semen”, which serves as one of the main sources of power for the witches), is pretty awesome and the primary characters in the story are even better. There’s little place for black and white morality in Maggot Baits’ world, with even the protagonist and the three “good” witches allied with him committing various atrocities. At the same time, outside of random, sadistic henchmen and thugs, there’s also no evil for the sake of evil. Shimon, the main antagonist of the story, is a prime example of this, having his hands in some incredibly despicable acts, but doing all of them as part of his work towards a very surprising and arguably noble goal. Even the other memorable villain, the brutal witch Sandy, proves to be much more than just a sadist murdering people and hunting her own kind for sports, despite the first impression she gives. As the story progresses, few things in Pandemonium stay as they first appeared to be and I found most of the twists and reveals the game offered quite fantastic. The love story component of the game is both well done and in line with the dark, tragic nature of its setting, despite a few questionable narrative choices There’s also the romantic subplot between Shougo and Carol, the thing which earned the game its “pure love story” categorisation. This develops between two playthroughs: after you finish the game for the first time and reach the first proper ending (at this point there’s just one choice in the whole game, leading to the aforementioned futanari side-arc), you get a few extra choices unlocked, making it possible to steer Shougo in a slightly different direction. This allows for the troubled romantic subplot to blossom and the game to reach its true ending – not necessarily “better” than the first one when it goes to its overall tone, but more fulfilling from the viewpoint of the protagonist. There’s actually a very interesting dynamic between the two endings, as the first one introduces some extremely intriguing religious and philosophical themes, like various understandings and meanings of love, and concludes the story with a utopia being born out of the hell of Kantou’s Pandemonium. For me, it was absolutely the most engrossing and thought-provoking moment in the game – to the point that the true ending, even though it iterated on the first one's ideas and featured a few interesting twists of its own, felt kind of bland in comparison. And all of this would be truly great, if not cut into tiny pieces by the relentless stream of h-content. The game bends itself at every turn to squeeze additional fanservice and outdo itself in its extreme nature. Sometimes it’s truly unique and disturbing, sometimes plain laughable (my personal favourite being the pig sex scene from the aforementioned futanari arc). Most importantly, though, it’s simply not worth going through for anyone reading VNs for the story and not being specifically interested in guro porn. I don’t regret reading Maggot Baits, as I was simply too curious to not check it out, but it’s quite likely the last game of this type and the last Clock Up title I’ll ever read. And ultimately, I can only suggest avoiding those to the vast majority of VN readers – while euphoria had its share of problems, it compensated for it with the excellent climate and by expertly integrating much of its h-content with the flow and leading themes of its story. This game, on the other hand, is just a dark nukige – a damn good one, but truly worthwhile only for the very specific subset of readers for whom guro is a reward in itself, and the story is just a fun bonus. If that’s you, you can grab this game without a second thought. If not… There are infinitely better ways to spend 45 dollars and 20+ hours of your time. Final Rating: 3/5 Pros: + Awesome quality of the visuals + Tons of CGs + Excellent characters + Great Soundtrack + Serious approach to its main themes Cons: - No consideration for pacing - …like, none at all - A lot of h-scenes feel forced and repetitive VNDB page Buy Maggot Baits on MagngaGamer Store
  4. VN in a workplace setting

    It sucks though... Eroge! comes to mind, but it's a nukige. I can also think of a few where the protagonist is a working adult, like DameKoi or even Kara no Shoujo, but they don't really have much to do with the workspace environment...
  5. Fall 2019 Anime Discussion

    I end up barely watching anything this season, but my inner masochist forces me to continue Fire Force... Holy crap this new OP. So insanely bad, and after the first one was so good it feels like a parody or a bad fan video. What is wrong with this anime? 0.o
  6. grisaia visual novels review no spoilers

    That kind of stuff happens... I guess GnK didn't need a sequel, but I still think it's a huge shame it never got an amine adaptation.
  7. grisaia visual novels review no spoilers

    [No Spoilers] Yes
  8. How much do you play VN a day/a week?

    It really depends on my mood and schedule, but I'd say the norm is one-two hours a day + 3-5 hours when I'm totally free. I'm not the fastest reader, so having less than an hour means I won't bother touching a VN at all. Starting reading and getting nowhere is just plain depressing, even with short VNs, and more so with the Japanese giants. If I really want to finish a VN, like with Maggot Baits lately or I'm really immersed, it can grow to 7-8 hours, but most of the time, I simply have too much stuff going on to afford that...
  9. It's finally here... MAGGOT BAITS!!!!

    And... I'm done with the true ending. Dear God... I'll share my complete thoughts on a different occasion, but my general impressions are that as a piece of storytelling, I've enjoyed it slightly less than euphoria. It's generally better-written and more cohesive (no incomprehensible weirdness or obvious plotholes), but also so utterly relentless in its fanservice that it absolutely killed the pacing even in the most dramatic and interesting moments. Also, many of the scenes are just such hollow fanservice... There's a whole witch character that serves no other function beyond being abused in arbitrally-placed scenes. There's also a whole side-arc branching from the first chapter that is nothing but literal hours of unrelated futanari porn. Why isn't it just a bonus scenario? It absolutely murders the flow of the story. You can say that's the point of the whole experience, but after a while it just stops being a good excuse when the game also tries to tell a story. It's one thing to have tons of h-scenes, it's another inserting one literally every 5-8 minutes, no matter what's going on in the plot. It's mind-numbing through its sheer intensity, and I imagine it could be so even for some people that get off from guro. And with just how much time is spend on plain porn, the core story... Is actually quite short and simple. On the other hand, I have to once more applaud the quality of the writing, including h-scenes. If I ever felt sick from something, it was the descriptions rather than visuals. The latter, for the most part, really did little for me... I think after euphoria I just stopped reacting to this kind of extreme porn whatsoever. Plus there were like three scenes that could be vaguely described as romantic, and I think I was just too numb from the guro imagery by that point to enjoy those in any real way. In summary, if I had some hesitation in calling euphoria a nukige, I have no doubt in this case. It you're looking for an ultra-violent porn game, it's definitely extremely high-quality and full of content. If you're looking for a dark story, maybe just go for a chuunige... 6/10 PS The first ending is my headcanon, a lot more fun than the true one.
  10. Hi

    Welcome to Fuwa! Hope you'll crack that "running JP VNs" puzzle. I could never be bothered with it. ;p
  11. I'll devour anything Vampire: The Masquerade without second thought, and I think I'm not alone, so especially with the Bloodlines 2 hype in the background it should do fine. The style of this one seems to be aiming more towards adventure game fans, which is a reasonable approach... Hope they don't mess it up.
  12. It's finally here... MAGGOT BAITS!!!!

    Nah man, he can handle it. After all, he's a giant! Like, 185 cm and 90+ kg! Edit: Edit 2:
  13. It's finally here... MAGGOT BAITS!!!!

    You want them to be imprecise about their shades of red? What a shameful attitude...
  14. What are you playing?

    So, I've been reading a lot of short to very short VNs lately to get back into rhythm after all the RL crap prevented me from reading anything for a while. I decided it'd be fun to summarise my experience a bit, so: Phenomeno was quite a cool experience and actually a lot more robust than some opinions led me into believing. It's disturbing exactly in that way horror VNs excel in, with vague, creepy visuals and graphic descriptions working in wonderful harmony with unsettling music and sound effects. It has a little bit of that "prologue to a bigger story" feel, but still left me plenty uneasy and plenty satisfied. 7.5/10 Soundless had a lot more artsy vibe to it and got straight-up bizarre by the end, but in general, it was just as good as people made me believe. It'll get a full review from me soon, but I was absolutely captivated with its doujin feel and how interestingly it tackled its main themes – and there's a ton of them, with the primary one being mental illness, but with bullying, scapegoating, religion following close by... Quite easily in the top 10 VNs I've read to date. 8.5/10 40 Days & 40 Nights of Rain is an old, rather highly-rated doujin VN about a soldier in an apocalyptic war who takes into his care a strange orphaned girl. There's a lot of meandering and religious symbolism in it and honestly... It felt quite pretentious to me. Maybe the translation has something to do with it, as it felt very clunky, just as the game's structure (NVL text display can be confusing when done poorly and here I often had to wonder who's saying what). There were some really good moments in it, but with me it definitely failed to achieve the emotional/thought-provoking effect it was aiming for. The visuals were cool I guess, I really like these crude artstyles. 6/10 A Midsummer Day's Resonance, on the other hand, was quite a lovely coming-of-age story with a touch of sci-fi and yuri. It communicated quite a lot with a short story and limited assets, ending on a somewhat sad, but ultimately hopeful note. Kind of a bite-sized nakige. 7/10 The Dandelion Girl is one of those rare literary adaptation VNs... And it's probably a really good way of experiencing this short story. It's something of a sci-fi classic, so I won't spoil anything, just say you should really read it if you haven't already in some form. It's short and sweet, and it's referenced in Clannad, so there are no excuses here. 7.5/10 April was a Fool was quite a surprise to me. It's one of those free EVNs I barely expected anything from, at least beyond being a cool distraction... But it proved to be a lot more. It's a humorous, RPG-themed VN about a barmaid that is randomly picked by a team of famous adventurers to stand in for their recently-deceased companion, as she resembles her physically and they don't want the news of her death to spread. The core story is mostly about how that loss destroyed the team's unity and it's up to the protagonist to learn their backstories and patch things up. The premise is used surprisingly well and the heroes prove quite memorable – it's not a particularly deep experience, but I had a lot more fun with it than I expected.7.5/10 I've also finished the prologue part of Maggot Baits and read a little bit beyond it. Quite a strong start, although the first h-scene made me chuckle a bit with how over-the-top it was, even if one particular description really grossed me out too. The first gore scene feels a little bit like the class rep electrocution at the beginning of euphoria: a signal of how far the game is willing to go and a warning to drop it if you're not ready to see that another 50+ times. I'm not yet engrossed in it quite like I was in the death game parts of euphoria, but on the other hand, I immediately liked the three "good" witches. I'll be reading it in short bursts in the next few weeks, we'll see how quick I can finish it and whether it can change my mixed feelings about clock-up stuff. :]
  15. Our Lovely Escape (Western VN Review)

    Thanks! The likeability is pretty subjective so my experience might be unusually negative... But even a poor first impression can be a plot device and be compensated for by interesting character development. Here it was a downward spiral even harder than with the How to Date a Magical Girl, as there are basically no high points, especially outside of Lissa's route. I never really regret backing projects because its always a gamble and I have yet to see a case when dev of something my pledged to showed bad will or lack of effort... This one just really didn't pan out as most people hoped.