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Eclipsed last won the day on September 4

Eclipsed had the most liked content!

About Eclipsed

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  • Birthday January 12

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  1. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. It's made by Vanillaware, who were the makers of the 2(.5)D side scrolling action RPGs like Odinsphere, Dragon's Crown on the PSVITA. Which, sue me, have been on my Vita backlog for years now. Unfortunately there's only a PS4 version out atm for Aegis, yay exclusives, would've liked a Switch version plx. And holy crap, this is one of them hidden gems. This thing was released in Sep 22 this year, and already has an average 4.9 stars with over 400 ratings on Amazon (and Amazon reviews are notorious for slamming VNs for "not being a real game" etc. smh). Even VNDB averages a whopping 8.95 with only 126 votes. It's on sale on Amazon physical NA for 30 bucks. 13 protagonists whose stories all intertwine in an epic Sci-Fi mecha time traveling world ending saga. It's not a traditional VN with static sprites and backgrounds; I'd say it's more of an interactive adventure visual novel. IADVN or something. Dialogue will be displayed over the character rather than a dedicated textbox at the bottom middle, though thankfully there is still a backlog you can refer to anytime. Presentation is supreme, you can control your current protagonist in a vivid 2.5D environment: there will be cars driving and pedestrians walking in the background when you're in the city, trees/branches will be swaying from the wind, characters all have fluid, expressive animations even when idle. The world feels alive. Then you think about the most recent VN where you have static sprites and empty backgrounds and it's like man, this is the future! Yes, the world is threatened by Mass Effect 3 Reaper wannabes and it's up to the 13 protagonists who are able to control their own personal mecha robot "Sentinels" to defend the universe across multiple time periods and yes I made it sound cheesy, but seriously the presentation of this game is top notch and gets you hooked right away. The story plays episodic, there will be 13 protagonists with their own shenanigans and the story progresses by shifting protagonists and perspectives until all of their paths eventually overlap. Every character has their own goals and motivations, relations and revelations, and every time you think you answer some questions, you get a new bundle of them in your face! There's a real time SRPG gameplay element that's thrown in to compliment the adventure novel aspect. It's almost universally agreed upon that it's definitely on the weaker end of the enjoyment spectrum, but it'd be pretty hard for the 2.5D to show epic battles between the 13 Sentinels and the Reapers, and we need some gameplay to appeal to the masses so I guess that's that.
  2. THAT IS THE CHOICE OF STEINS;GATE! I think what holds R;N back is that it's the entry where the writers start trying to tie the whole SciADV series together, so R;N doesn't have as much standalone oomph like C;C or S;G did. Kept having to refer to the good ol' times and how badass prior protagonists are. But I get what they're trying to do. It'll be interesting to see what future titles have in store in the ongoing battle against the C of 3 times 10^2. I would've preferred that they did new scientific standalone titles with occasional references to the past like they've been doing, but it looks like they're gonna all in go for a mega ongoing saga that adds to the cast. Guess we'll see what happens in Anonymous;Code one day. R;N was decent overall. But again, lack of standalone oomph. There were a lot of interesting story/character concepts presented in both entries that went absolutely no where, writers couldn't commit what the hell they wanted to do. AIri felt criminally underused despite playing such a key role during the Kimijima Ko report hunt saga then she just becomes a demoted-to-onii-chan-spamming-extra, though her DaSH route was rather enjoyable with the 'what if she was in her 20s' scenario. Jun's karate thing never develops despite it being 90% of her screentime and instead they just settle for her finally gaining some self confidence. I don't think Frau ever even got closure regarding the reason she came to Tanegashima, and her DaSH route offered nothing to her character and was mostly just for BL service. Idk, majority of the characters just feel like "why are they even here"? but the VN still tries to paint everyone as having this unbreakable bond with each other. Slomo and Fastforward were cool character concepts but nope didn't do jack with them either. Akiho x Kaito was done well at least. It was pretty much the only thing that I was interested in reading about for DaSH. I loved the whole "we were inseparable childhood friends all the way through high school, then in the 6months between R;N and R;NDaSH, somehow everything's awkward now between us, wtf happened?!" plot point. Sometimes that's just how life works.
  3. R;N is pretty much linear, so the only time you'll have to repeat content is to make the choices to lock yourself into a heroine "route" (which can all be done from literally a single save point) The heroine "routes" branch off from the main route
  4. Ehehehehe that's a legit 37 hours 37 minutes and 37 seconds playtime, though i waited for a minute or two for the timer to reach those 37 seconds Let's start off with my favorite R;N track: Definitely a tune that I felt gave R;N its own identity, especially when it starts ramping up past the 1:00 mark. Hrmmm, mixed feelings about this one. Robotics;Notes is definitely on the "it's good, but kinda lacking if you compare it to Chaos;Child & Steins;Gate", as much as I shouldn't compare this to its siblings, and I agree with VNDB's R;N getting 7.5 average versus C;C's 8.0+ and S;G's 9.0+ average ratings. I think it has to do with the overall atmosphere/tone: we kind of have grown to expect the science adv series to be this mature, plot conspiracy heavy pseudoscience funtimes with quirky characters, and Robot;Notes is MOSTLY that, but ultimately they made R;N to be the more LIGHTHEARTED entry in the series, and lighthearted doesn't really work well when you're trying to write about world ending conspiracies and whatnot. Don't get me wrong, things will get dark come lategame, but they never really get TOO dark/bleak like they do in S;G and C;C. It kind of feels restrained, held back, like they went for PG-13 instead of R. Which is mainly due to the Robotics High School Club setting, and Akiho being the main heroine and having the classic genki/optimistic/passionate template. Would've been nice if they tried to give her some heroic BSODs to overcome, but nahhh she's too strong for that Power of friendship will trump over all! Honestly felt like power rangers good vs evil levels of cheesiness sometimes. Exacerbated by Akiho's love of the ingame fictional anime about robot justice called Gunvarrel that she will constantly blabber about in your face. The good vs evil black and whiteness come lategame is so cheesy that I even felt like the big baddies of the science ADV were a bunch of chumps and not intimidating anymore, despite them coming up with technically an even grander more dire conspiracy this time around, yet they were for sure HELLA intimidating with their antics in S;G. How the mighty have fallen.. Still overall an enjoyable VN. I usually can grow to love all the characters and these guys are no exception, though they are indeed a very quirky bunch and sometimes you just go "how the heck did these guys all end up together". But yeah 90% of the plot is literally just Kaito YOLO following Akiho's immature unpractical shenanigans for robots (can literally rename the VN "Akiho's Robotics Adventures") with some bits of conspiracy unravelling scattered throughout eventually culminating into we'll-beat-the-baddies-and-save-the-world-power-of-friendship-style! It's a bit hilarious because come lategame you can actually have Kaito be like "yo sorry Aki, I've been following you and your shenanigans all this time, but now I'm tired of it all bb cya" and get a badend. One thing I'll have to reiterate that I believe R;N does extremely well is having the ingame tweeting system that you can look up on a daily basis to get character reactions to daily events. They even went above and beyond and you can unlock certain very familiar names to follow and get their reactions to events, something I'm sure fans can appreciate: ~~~ Also, started Robotics;Notes DaSH. Hmmm, having a sequel with a set-insameuniverse-prequel character as one of the main characters? I don't know if that's a clever way of writing or if it's just a "let's ride off of the popularity of a prior work!" but I guess we shall see... Btw, I see why you prefer 2D over 3D now, Daru. You look absolutely terrible with a 3D sprite. Revert back to 2D pls.
  5. Hoh... didn't feel like I slogged through 20 hours on this VN so far, actually feels like < 10, I swear, my playtime is probably inflated because I'd get sidetracked and leave my Switch idling with the VN running or something. idk. But I refuse to believe it's been that long..!! I'm assuming Nae's route is kind of like a common route ending type of route, because that ended WAAAY too abruptly lol I was legit confused and had the biggest "that's it??" ever when I saw the credits rolling. Plotwise it still feels like I'm only ~50% through the common route, I mean I only had 3/7 Kimijima Reports and there was still a whopping 6 months to go until the Robot Expo that Kaito and friends were preparing for, but then Kaito all of a sudden gets the hots for Nae (I don't blame him, she really grew up fine lol), yada yada oo la la, gg ez, rollcredits. That being said I have no idea what triggers routes and whatnot, so guess I'll have to do some research.. Hope it's nothing too complicated like Steins;gate's systematic text message responses. God help me if it's based on TWIPO replies or something. E: fk me, they are. How the hell do devs actually expect people to find their way blind through routes in all honesty..
  7. Slowly slogging through Robotics;Notes, took me literally like a week just to do Phase 1 lol. I'm a huge slacker sorrz Thoughts/First Impressions: The 3D sprites + animations take some time to get used to. It's kind of like when you first red Steins;gate and it might've taken you some time to get used to the watercolory artstyle. Doesn't help that the N.Switch has some anti-aliasing issues compared to all the other versions (rip). But it eventually grows on you/you get used to it. ...I already miss YU-NO soundtracks. Stuff from the 1990s just had more identity and flavor. Everything in Robotics;Notes so far is forgetful generic elevator-tier sounding. Story takes a bit to take off, then again I'm barely starting Phase 2 so I'm probably speaking waaay too soon. I think it's the general overall premise/initial hook. Steins;Gate's premise was time travel. Intriguing. Chaos;Child was murder mystery supernatural. Interesting. Robotic;Notes? High school robot competitions. The main heroine Akiho is the genki-hardheaded-charge-towards-your-dreams-full-speed-ahead type but she just wants to do too much/has pretty unrealistic goals. Then we have the protagonist Kaito who doesn't help either with him being 100% disinterested in the Robotics Club (and being quite vocal about it too). He's more into his online pvp game KILL-BALLAD, where he ranks #5 in Japan. He sticks with Akiho though because they're childhood friends/the two need to watch over each other because of their Fast Forward and Slo-mo handicaps. On the plus side, the duo do have excellent dynamics and so far its a pleasure to see them interact with each other. One of the great things about the Sci-ADV series is their continuity: R;N literally gives you a glimpse of 1.048596 in the opening, and you'll get a famous one liner about eyes pretty early on. Lovely callbacks, though I hope R;N can hold its own and not overly rely on the glory of its earlier siblings. ~~ Since it's ROBOTICS;notes-> Robotics-> technology, the devs got a bit more creative with the level of technological interactivity in the world you can have via Kaito's PhoneDroid/smartphone. Whereas in S;G you were limited to receiving and replying to texts only when the narrative demanded it, in R;N there is a barebones Twitter replica called Twipo that adds a hearty amount of flavor to the entirety of the cast/plot/setting via the characters twipping about their lives and ongoing events day by day, and Kaito can even reply to a handful of those twips. It's one of the things R;N does well and it makes the world feel alive: Slight character reveal spoiler (though you learn their identity within a couple hours of meeting them so it's not too bad of a spoiler):
  8. Ehehehehe I wonder why Robotics;Notes scored relatively poorly compared to Chaos;Child and Steins;Gate (130 votes avg 7.36 vs 1806 votes avg 8.39 and lol 8132 votes avg 9.02 respectively) I'd like to think it's just that most peeps who tried R;N were going off of the high from S;G and then got disappointed, or maybe it's the use of 3d sprites, which can look pretty jank: Worst case scenario it's cuz the plot actually is subpar, god I hope not. We shall see~
  9. Aight, finished YU-NO. I actually only had 1-2 more hours of readtime when I made my prior post lol. Overall enjoyable. My failure to appreciate the final route as much as I could've was more due to my tendency to come into final routes waaay too overhyped. I blame Ever17. Ever since that VN I've always expected true routes to be mind blowing braingasm experiences so it can be very easy for me to bamboozle myself and end up disappointed. One of the things I liked the most was the jigsaw puzzle plot revelation format, where every heroine route focuses on a core mystery and you only get the complete picture once you've read everything. It's a great way to keep the reader hooked. Not gonna do too much of an indepth misc. thoughts, I'm kind of out of mental power atm sorryz (Spoilers): And that's that. Love reading VNs. Every time I finish one I get antsy because it's like, damn that was good, I wanna read another one like this, will the next VN i read even be as enjoyable? Then I pick a completely different genre and setting and then come to enjoy that and the cycle repeats. Question is... what shall the next VN be..? (and no, it's not gonna be AoKana, sorrz no pureblood high school SoL for me plx) *Looks at the date* Oh, I know!
  10. I'm about midway, or maybe in the final stretch of Yu-No's lategame/true/final route, and wanted to drop some comments before I finish It basically pulls a Muv-Luv Unlimited, or Rewrite post common route/Terra route in terms of the story and pacing just flipping on its head And unfortunately it doesn't do it too well Main complaint being the pacing, the story events themselves are passable though definitely not what I was expecting. Pacing-wise it'll take you a solid 20-30 hours to read through a mere 3 days worth of events for 4-5 heroines. The final route in YU-NO? in just 4-5 hours you'll go through 4-6+ YEARS worth of events. It's jarring af. Characters like Illia, Kun-Kun, Amanda, even Celes, feel so insignificant since they're introduced so damn late into the VN and then only get like 30min - 2 hrs of screentime. The connection to these characters who are supposed to be really important just isn't there. And then you meet the G-M and it's like HOLY SHIT I MISSED YOU JFC I SPENT THE LAST 5 HRS 5 YEARS WITH STRANGERS WHO I DIDN'T CARE ABOUT The sad thing is even though I'm complaining that the pacing is bad because too much happens in too little readtime, I actually don't think padding the 4-6+ years of events to take like 10-15 hrs of readtime or something would've helped, because when you're this late into the game on the supposed final, all revealing route that extra padding to flesh out these characters would probably instead just make you feel like it's too dragged out lol.
  11. Alright I'm apparently 69% of the way done with 2017 YU-NO Switch ver. , so I'll do a midway thoughts review thing. I went Mitsuki -> Mio -> Ayumi -> currently gonna start Kanna's route ^----- 69% It's been pretty fun so far. A bit "grindy" via the time travel/jewel save point mechanic because you'll have to frequently backtrack to recollect items that are needed to progress through whatever branch you are pursuing, because certain items are once-you-use-them-then-you-lose-them, even if you return to the past where you did not use that item yet, and so you have to return to the point where you actually got the item (did that make sense LOL) and then return to that branching point in order to see the other branch. And then there's also the HUGE vulnerability where you forget to replace a save point (whenever you use a jewel it returns to your inventory AKA that checkpoint is removed from the map and you have to set the checkpoint again if you want to return to that point again but its soooo easy to forget when you're skip-grinding through the VN). AKA you set checkpoint A, load it, checkpoint A is now gone. If you continue the story without setting checkpoint A again, which is very easy to do, then you literally locked yourself out and if you want to go back to checkpoint A then you'll have to start the VN from the beginning and grind back to that point. Very annoying especially when you just want to see the other branch on a lategame decision. One thing I like regarding the flow of the events though is how, uh, consistent? all the heroine routes are with each other. In other VNs with branching paths/multiple heroines it's very easy for the writers to just give whoever's not the main focus the vanish treatment, where in the back of your mind you're always wondering like, "Ok I'm currently flirting with girl A so they're obviously the focus, but I wonder how and what girls B/C/D/E are doing right now"... Well, technically, the vanish treatment still happens, but since all 4 of YU-NO's heroine routes take place over a very, very meager 3 DAYS the writers have the luxury of allowing the reader to keep tabs on what the other heroines are up to, even if you aren't on their particular route. And the vanish treatment is a bit justified because even If you're off flirting with the hot teacher Mitsuki trying to find out what's the deal with Ryuuzoji, you'll still get glimpses of tsundere classmate Mio doing her Triangle Mountain investigations, you'll still see gentle stepmother Ayumi getting shrekt HARD by her Geo Technics controversies, and more often then not you'll bump into enigmatic student transfer Kanna mysteriously appearing and disappearing during pivotal moments as if watching over Takuya. That being said, even though it's just 4 heroines over 3 days you may fall victim to the Time Travelers' Omniscient Burden, where you're burdened with knowing things Takuya technically shouldn't know because his own memories are reset every time you start over, and you can become overwhelmed with keeping track of what's going on/has happened/will happen/only happens in another timeline yada yada yada if you're not taking notes on the side or something lol. The remastered soundtrack is 9/10, very good stuff, idk, most of the BGMs just clicked with me. Very catchy and memorable and I found myself playing them in my head more often than I did any other VN that I've read this year. The heroines all have distinguishing themes appropriately titled after their names. I can't even remember any heroine themes of any VNs I've read in the past... Ok wait I just thought of one. Rewrite's Kotori's piano flower theme. Ok YU-NO's heroine themes have nothing on that tbh lmao, but the main point is that they were distinct and memorable to me and would bring a smile to my face to see Ayumi or Mio pop up on the screen with their accompanying theme. Dialogue/writing/translation feels subpar, it's still readable but there are times where my very limited Japanese familiarity can call out the translation freestyling. One example being Takuya audibly saying he knows a girl's "three sizes" and yet the dialogue instead said he knew her height. I'm like dafuq, is that a result of censorship??. Also sometimes he/she pronoun is mixed up, very confusing when it happens. H-scenes are reduced to Takuya and the heroine professing their love for each other, making out, and then blacking out to post-coitus-cuddle dialogue. I actually prefer it that way, I was never into H-scenes to begin with and would always skip through them. ~~ Ok I'll be honest, I ended up wanting to write this post because I just finished Ayumi's route. Mitsuki and Mio were aight, nothing too special to note. But Ayumi, man oh man Ayumi, there was just something about her that drew me in so I was heavily invested into her. Dare I say it was the whole pretty, gentle, caring stepmother and forbidden love concept LOL. Overall her route wasn't too special either, more infuriating if anything due to the worst scumbag of the earth ever that is Toyotomi, but that bad ending though! Misc. Thoughts/Spoilers! (Ayumi route)
  12. Alright friends I'm sorry, I couldn't get into Ao Kana, I know, I know, blasphemy, it's one of the more favored high school slice of lifes out there, but I'm just waaay passed my SoL honey moon phase lol. Absolutely loved the artwork, and coupled with the flying thematics/settings I just know it would've been one of my tops alongside all the others I've red in the past. I can probably get back into it some other time, but after going through MuvLuv / Al Somnium Files / Chaos;Child / Utawarerumono this year I'm still hungry for some more plot heavy shenanigans rather than mindless eye candy moe droolzie fests. That being said, I did get another VN for my Switch in addition to Ao Kana: YU-NO. Now I didn't really read the synopsis for it, so when I was slogging through the prologue for a good 2-3 hours I was like uh oh, but then BAM it's a VN that involves timetravel/multiuniverse YEEE thank the VN gods! ~~ You are protagonist (first) Takuya Arima (last), an "acts obnoxious and perverted" high school boy who is kind of in a slump and slacking with his life and studies after his father, a fairly renowned researcher/historian, goes missing for a month and is eventually presumed dead. Takuya now lives with just his stepmother Ayumi, a very gentle and caring woman who's only about 10 years older than Takuya. Cuz she was a student of Takuya's dad and they fell in love. Whew. Takuya is an obnoxious loudmouth, and 50% of his dialogue with any female character is plagued with early 2000s perverted protagonist humor; hopefully he'll grow out of it in some semblance of character development come later. He even pervs out on his stepmother Ayumi at times lol, but at least he's mindful about that: Yo dw Takuya, I won't judge, you're only looking because I'm making you, because I'm the one who wants to stare Yada yada yada, Takuya eventually gets a package delivered to him. The sender? His father! And inside is the deus ex machina of deus ex machinas, your very own time machine device! Now YU-NO came out in 1996, so it's the OG time travel/multiverse VN and I'm going to just enjoy it for what it is instead of trying to compare it with Steins;gate / Zero Escape and whatnot. So far I dig the concept, you know how VNs have flow charts and save points? These are seamlessly implemented as a natural feature of Takuya's time travel device so he can set a jewel (checkpoint) and jump between them at will, though he only has a limited amounted of jewels (checkpoints) to place. Basically you using this limited saving or loading feature is him using his time machine device, pretty meta for a VN made in 1996. The only drawback so far is that it doesn't seem like Takuya himself is aware of any jumps you're doing early on in the story, though I'm assuming come late game it'll probably be heavily integrated with the plot. The VN narratively plays like a point and click adventure, where you are given breaks in between dialogue to move to your next destination or examine your surroundings. Pretty neat feature, though I've already developed the habit of holding skip and clicking everything in the map and then glancing through backlogs, because there is a LOT of fluff / boring descriptions: Yuck, too much stuff to examine. Doesn't help that you can literally leave the room and come right back and then all the things you just greyed out (indicating that it was read content) will be white again (unread content). ~~ Naturally I'm playing the remastered Nintendo Switch version of YU-NO. It comes with remastered tracks (though you can change the BGM to the OG 8-bit sounding ones at any time, always nice to have that feature) and modern moe graphics, which I always love so that's a plus. I saw some comments about diehard purist fans going 'Ohh the old artstyle was better, the new one is lifeless'/ Well i say y'all needa get your eyes checked and get with the times, I bet there are even OLDER purists who would think black and white pixelated pre-1970s artstyle trumps the old 2000s janky artstyle lol. Yes, I had Takuya stare at her butt. For the longest time ever. Sue me ~~ Pretty interested to see what kind of story this VN will do
  13. Wow, it's an end of an era. I actually played soooo many VNs on my Vita, ranging from the thrilling Danganronpas and Zero Escapes to sci-fi shenanigans Steins;gates and Chaos;Child's to fantasy funtimes like Ar Nosurge and Utawarerumono trilogy, even Muv Luv, and a whole crapton of Otomes. All on a "dead" device that is the Vita: ....But now it's time to Switch it up Yup I finally caved and got a Nintendo Switch. Originally wanted to wait for a New Nintendo Switch Pro XL or something, but they came out with the fking Lite instead. Pretty excited~
  14. And so my Utawarerumono marathon finally comes to an end. 30 hours for the first game, 30 hours for Mask of Deception (MoD), and 45 hours for Mask of Truth (MoT). I didn't write up a review thingy after Mask of Deception because it kind of ended on a cliffhanger; a bit of a shame cuz I thought I could get a full story via MoD and then another full story via MoT but they both together make one big story. Considering Mask of Truth released only a year after Deception I guess they simply ran out of time and so they pushed out Deception first and then went straight back to the dev room to finish up the rest via Truth. Favorite MoD BGM: A nice surreal nostalgic reflective theme ~~ I'm probably part of the small demographic that got to binge this entire series in one go instead of reading the original and then waiting a decade for the sequels. So whereas the original Utawarerumono started you off as this amnesiac protagonist that wakes up in the arms of a beautiful nice girl-next-door type with animal-like ears and a tail whom he gropes out of curiosity, the sequel Utawarerumono Mask of Deception instead starts you off as this amnesiac protagonist that wakes up in the arms of a beautiful girl next door type with animal-like ears and a tail whom he gropes out of curiosity. Yup, you red that right. It's the same exact setup! Why hello there, Eruru- I MEAN UHH, WHO ARE YOU?! The main heroine this time around is named Kuon. She's a well meaning girl who contrasts herself from the passive obedient nice girl-next-door Eruru by being the clever strong independent type. She just happened to be on a solo self identifying carpe diem journey around the world when she happened upon the unconscious protagonist and decided to become his caretaker. And she's quite the looker indeed. After exchanging some pleasantries, Kuon decides to give the protagonist a name: Haku. Hoh... Haku, as in Hakuowlo from the first game?! Naturally the first thing on my mind is whether this Haku is some reincarnation of the first Haku(owlo) and Kuon is some reincarnation of Eruru. Kind of like The Legend of Zelda, where you have multiple generations of Link and Zelda across multiple generations/timelines. That'd be cool, right? This VN however does a good job of just dangling the carrot, teasing you and never really getting around to confirming or denying your suspicions. You even meet a major character named Oshtor, and his appearance just screams a Hakuowlo ripoff complete with the mask and all and you're just like EYYY THERE'S NO WAY THAT THERE IS NO CONNECTION BETWEEN THESE GUYS LIKE WTF C'MON NOW. Hakuowlo Haku Oshtor Q: Which one of these three is the main character? A: They're the same person I jest. But it totally bugs me that no characters ever say "Hey Haku, you look like this one guy Hakuowlo that I knew from a long time ago". Not even Kuon, and she was the one who gives Haku his name AND Hakuowlo's trademark steel fan weapon. Hell, no one even goes "Hey Haku, you look like Oshtor", and these two will get plenty of screentime together. It's one of those audience-character red herring disjoints that will forever plague your mind as you read this. It's kind of like how Ash Ketchum and friends are always oblivious to Team Rocket's disguises when it should be an obvious as fuh thing to notice and exclaim about. Haku's a good protagonist. I didn't realize it at the time, but Hakuowlo was actually super, like SUPER bland. He was too idk, capable and perfect? Since he was thrust into a ruler/leadership position quite early on he always had to be serious and couldn't really afford to banter and goof around. His inner monologues would be dull and to the point. Haku instead gets the easygoing/laidback/lazy but dependable-when-it-matters persona, and his inner commentary is much more flavorful. He'll whine, complain, have snarky remarks, and oftentimes push Kuon's buttons just enough for her to want to wrap her tail around his head and CRUSH. In general the writing and dialogue in this VN flows much more nicely than its predecessor (though that could be the result of translation, or my attention span got better, who knows). Characters: 8.5/10 Characters make or break a VN. Why the heck would I care about what's going on in the story if I don't care about the characters? Not gonna lie though, it did take me a bit to warm up to the new cast of heroines but man by the time I was reading Mask of Truth I was super fond and invested in all of them. Haku is great for his modern day protagonist revision and Kuon is the poster girl so she's obvious best girl, amplified onehundred fold when you finally learn just who she really is and consequently just want to give her a big ol' hug. Atuy is your local ditzy girl who calls everyone "-han" and has a bloodthirsty battle side; Nekone is the younger genius sister type that finds everything that the protagonist does stupid and scolds him accordingly; Nosuri is the well meaning airheaded robinhood justice thief type, Rulutieh is the nice softspoken girl that loves supporting everyone by cooking (lol how stereotypical), Anju is the spoiled bratty princess with Munechika as her strict honorable guardian. Then you get Saraana and Uruuru and while they're a bit overbearing with the absolute servitude with sexual implications towards Haku you learn to appreciate them too. The male cast is slightly underwhelming outside of the prodigy Oshtor and while they all have their bro moments with Haku none of them really stood out too much. It's always funny when you take a step back and think about how a cast this crazy ends up banding together. Story: (MoD)- 7.5/10. Mask of Deception is sort of like the Muv-Luv before Muv-Luv Alternate: the calm before the storm. It devotes itself entirely to establishing its new cast and setting. After Kuon declares herself Haku's guardian, he decides to accompany her on her journey and the two will eventually settle upon the land of Yamato and then spend practically all of the VN's some 30 hrs in its Imperial Capital and dealing with its shenanigans and adding more heroines to the harem. Yamato is practically a utopia: the land is massive and flourishing and there is a benevolent ruler called the Mikado who is loved by all and recognized as a literal God for his mystical feats. He has 8 trusted generals dubbed "The Eight Pillar Generals" and two army commanders dubbed the "Imperial Guard of the Left (and Right)", and they'll all be relevant to the story at one point or another. Most of the VN is structured as slice of life; the first 20 hours you'll spend meeting new friends and allies and getting to know them while learning more and more about the land and its customs. It really gives an overall grand and satisfying feel to the land of Yamato. To keep things interesting, there are even nods to the first game's events/lore and plenty of foreshadow-candy opportunities regarding Haku and Kuon's backgrounds. Unfortunately, the peaceful tranquil days aren't fated to last forever, and Haku will be inevitably forced to make an irreversible decision, and- CLIFFHANGER LOLOL GO READ MASK OF TRUTH NOOB!! (MoT)- 9/10 Shit hit the fan, whoop-dee-doo. No more fun and games sadface. Can't really talk much because it's a big spoiler on the ending of MoD, but Mask of Truth is basically a 30 hour war campaign. Sounds boring at a glance, I know, but like I said, if you care about the characters you'll hopefully get a massive buff in caring about the story. Each location you visit during your conquest will actually be a hometown of one of the heroines and so you'll get to bond more with that particular heroine and see their family (many of whom were only briefly mentioned in MoD, and are prominent characters such as being one of the Eight Pillar Generals). The writers made sure to prepare them sweet sweet ethos to get you to care about these locations (unlike the first game where you could care less that some random named village got utterly decimated). Although, I can definitely see some readers finding the war campaign a chore/boring, especially if they never got around to liking Anju. Which I don't blame them if they didn't, the girl really didn't offer much in the likeable department. Overall though it was just great to see the camaraderie and struggles of the cast I grew to become so fond of during this conflict. The REAL fun though happens after the war. I thought the VN was gonna end after the war so I was pleasantly surprised that it kept going. You get another hearty 10-15 hours to finally get some much needed Haku+Kuon alone time and fully explore their backgrounds and also revisit and tie up any loose ends from pivotal events/lore from the FIRST game. And it does so so, so, beautifully. *Tear* Art/Music: 8/10. Art is modern moe, always love that stuff. Music is nothing special since the remastered first game included tracks from all three games so I heard nothing new. Gameplay: 8/10 I said I didn't like SRPGs but they really improved the look and feel for the SRPG gameplay that it was actually decently fun. The first game was horrifically limited, you can only mostly attack or heal units one space away, unit had only one combo attack string, etc, very outdated and played poorly. MoD and MoT gave units multiple combo attack strings to fit variety of situations/positions and your heals are AoE instead of only healing one panel etc. Not gonna do a longwinded misc. thoughts/comments, there are TOO MANY feelsgood/bad moments across the 100 hours I spent on this trilogy (70 for MoD/MoT), but man it was all totally worth just for this (ULTIMATE SPOILERS): P.S. Kuon is best girl by a huge mile, but I cannot for the love of god believe she is voiced by the same VA as grumpy scientist Mio from Chaos;Child. Like wtf man.
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