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The walkthrough is wrong one way or another, apparently. Later on when I was told to load the save mentioned above, the guide used the Mansion entrance, which I was asked to save before going to, as a starting point. In other words, I'm guessing you're supposed to save after going to the Mansion entrance (as is also suggested by the line order of the guide), rather than "before going to the mansion entrance", like it actually says.
That's what I'm going with, at least. I hope I've interpreted this right and that I haven't screwed up the rest of the playthrough in some way by presuming this is what the guide is telling me to do.

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I just finished first route (Airi's) in Mashiro Iro Symphony.

W O W :o

It was great - if it will maintain similar level for remaining three routes, it's clearly aiming for 8+ score. For a moege it is indeed amazing. Nice humor, great romance, likeable characters, great art, music... I also loved SDCGs that appeared here and there. かわいい...

I'm truly impressed.

On to the next route (but tomorrow... ;) )

Edited by adamstan

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On 6/21/2019 at 4:34 PM, Mr Poltroon said:

I really loved how the game let you play out the same scenario in so many wildly different ways.

Yeah, that's why I loved the ending so much because I felt that they seamlessly blended the routes together for the most part

 

 

I also finally finished Amane's route in Hearts Wings after like 600 years

It was a good ending to a decent enough route

Edited by Ranzo

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So, after finishing another 100 hour long behemoth recently, I decided to play several shorter and less well-known VNs.

20190618131511-1.jpg

 Cryste: the Faith of Fire Volume 1 is a Chinese VN that I've seen in recommendations on Fuwa some time ago, and it looked like something that I could enjoy so I decided to play it. The basic premise is that some random hikikomori guy gets isekaied into the body of a silver-haired loli princess, but the whole gender bender doesn't really matter that much in the end because The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body . Overall, this feels like a lot more typical story for a gender bender light novel (just why is it always silver haired lolis, I wonder?) rather than a visual novel, so I wasn't really surprised when I learned that it actually is an adaptation of a Chinese light novel.

Overall, it's a bit hard to talk about this VN since it's supposed to be only the beginning of the story. The first 80% of the plot mostly consists of just character introduction and some basic world building. There isn't really much "plot" in this part at all, and, while predictable, but still works pretty well as an enjoyable light read. The characters are more or less generic, but I wouldn't call them bad or boring. Overall, their motivations make sense if you stop to think about it, and it didn't feel like they were there simply to push the story forward like in many works like that. I'm really interested to see how they will interact and develop in the future. What I didn't like, however, is the story structure and the general writing quality. Many scenes that would be pretty important for the characterization were skipped, and, though it's technically not very difficult to guess why the characters acted the way they did, it still felt like something was missing. There also appear to be some factual mistakes, and I'm not sure if they were made during the translation or existed in the original work.

However, in the last 20% the story makes a complete U-turn, and it actually did manage to surprise me. Definitely didn't expect the plot to go this way, even though the hints were there, and I feel very excited to see what happens next. Unfortunately, the novel ends right at the most interesting moment, and we are forced to wait for the next volume for the continuation. And here we come to the worst part - this VN is unfinished. While it has "Volume 1" in the title, I don't really expect the continuation to ever come out. It's been two years after the release, and it doesn't look like there is any news about the next volume. And even if it does come out eventually, the original light novel is pretty massive, so I doubt that we will ever see it fully adapted into the VN format. And the novel isn't translated (I hoped that there could be a fan-translation available somewhere on the Internet, but no, doesn't look like it), so there's no way to experience the full story if you don't speak Chinese.

Still, it wasn't a bad experience. The first 80% of the story mostly work on their own even without the continuation. I definitely enjoyed it overall, and I will play the next volume if it ever comes out. And also, the production values are surprisingly good for an amateur work. Both art and music are quite pretty, and it's fully voiced. Overall, if you're okay with reading an incomplete work and feel like you might enjoy it, I recommend giving it a try (it's quite short anyway).

I'm giving it 6/10 for now. I'll most likely raise it the the sequel ever comes out.

PS. And now I realized how many Japanese loan words are Chinese in origin.

2019-06-19-13-08-25.png

Last Purify is a freeware doujin VN written by Insider. It doesn't have an English translation and isn't very well known, but someone translated it into Russian, so I was able to read it.

And, you know, this VN turned out to be unexpectedly good! It's set in the future after a nuclear war that destroyed a big part of humanity. In order to avoid another war, humans decided to move one step further in the evolution away from their animal nature and completely get rid of their emotions and everything that could cause them, including art and religion. The whole world is currently under a single country called Ethics, with the exception of the city of Tokyo that still manages to fight back against them. The story starts when our protagonist, the boy called Tohru who lives in the colony of Tsukuba in Ethics, appears in front of the defenders of Tokyo. He doesn't remember what caused him to leave his colony and go to the enemy territory. He is taken as a prisoner of war and now has to live in Tokyo, among these people who still have emotions and for some reason he doesn't understand would rather prefer to die rather than letting go of everything they hold dear.

Overall, it's essentially a slice-of-live VN, set in the dystopic future, with some political commentary and "feelz". I'd say, the drama is what I enjoyed the most. Unlike the previous VN, this one isn't voiced and has a minimal amount of CGs, but is surprisingly well written. And I don't see any major flaws at all, other than that the second ending feels a bit rushed. It's a big shame this isn't translated. I definitely recommend to read it if you have a chance.

8/10.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And now I honestly don't know what to read next. :yumiko: Maybe I'll give another otome a try or something.

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Picked up Death Mark from Steam's summer sale. I like the art and sound production, but I really hope they up the ante with the scares soon. These "something pops up in the darkness along with a sound effect while you're scanning with the flashlight" moments are gettings pretty repetitive.
The gameplay is godawful overall. Searching every inch of every room with the flashlight isn't fun in the slightest, and moving around on the map feels really clunky.
It's also kinda weird how the side characters as individuals are referred to as "them/they" rather than "he/she". I'm pretty sure they're not all gender neutral, so this is most likely a case of lazy programming.

Edited by Seraphim88

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4 hours ago, Seraphim88 said:

It's also kinda weird how the side characters as individuals are referred to as "them/they" rather than "he/she".

Are they referred to as such in dialogues, or are you talking about "name tags" for unnamed characters?

In Japanese it is pretty common to refer to 3rd persons as "あの人 (ano hito)" - "that person", when speaking politely, cause "彼女/彼 (kanojo/kare)" - "she/he" - are considered to be too direct and thus may be interpreted as rude. It has nothing to do with "gender neutrality". But that would apply just to some dialogues. And in translation it is usually converted into "he/she" (except when used in another way, to show coldness/distance/anger etc - like, you know, tsundere girl is angry at her friend and "not speaking with them"/"doesn't know them at all", so they carry all conversations through another person, with lines like "Please tell that person over there that I'm not talking with them" :P).

If speaking about name tags for "unknown" characters, yeah, probably lazy programming, they made single "character" for all of them instead of separate male/female ones.

So it may be programming issue, original writing issue or translation issue.

Edited by adamstan

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4 minutes ago, adamstan said:

Are they referred to as such in dialogues, or are you talking about "name tags" for unnamed characters?

It's during the protagonist's narration. Like "they are crying" instead of "she is crying" or "<insert name here> is crying". It looks pretty strange.

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Ah, the narration. Then it indeed feels weird. Could you check how it is in JP version? (It seems that Steam version is bilingual)

I'm really curious if it's the case of original writing or the translation.

Edited by adamstan

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9 hours ago, adamstan said:

Could you check how it is in JP version? (It seems that Steam version is bilingual)

Yeah, that's what it says on the store page, but there are no options in-game to change the language so I'm not sure how to go about doing that. There are barely any options at all, actually. The only stuff you can do is change volume and resolution (up to a maximum of 1920 x 1080), toggle windowed/fullscreen and remap controls.
Even if I find out how to change language, there's still the issue of only being able to save at certain points, so I might be forced to replay quite a bit (since there doesn't seem to be an instant language toggle) and then replay it once again when I change back to English.
Still, if I'm able to do it all without too much hassle, I'll make sure to grab a couple of screenshots somewhere.

49 minutes ago, Stormwolf said:

It's been used because the dialogue probably might include a man or a woman

Yeah, that's my educated guess as well. It shouldn't be hard to make the game recognize which character you're with, so this seems awfully lazy to me. It actually wouldn't surprise me one bit if the developer's just copy-pasted the entire partner scripts during the investigations, so they wouldn't have to bother with unique dialogue depending on who you bring.

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@adamstan

I have yet to find some way to change language to Japanese, but here's an example of "they" usage:

ucrAA5.jpg

This is during an investigation with a male partner, when the protagonist gets grabbed by someone and tries to determine if it's the partner or someone else.

What's most weird about this whole issue is the fact that it's not consistent. As I've continued playing, I've seen characters referred to by name or "he/she" plenty of times, but then it just randomly changes to "them/they" out of nowhere. One prime example is this screenshot, where one character is referred to as "they", although her name was actually used earlier in the very same sentence:

8Ew1VK.jpg

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Muddling through Chaos Head

Man I remember all the time I spent trying to get this damn vn running back in the day

So far my impressions of it are pretty average

It's got some interesting things to it so far but I can't get behind the protag
He's pretty awful in so many ways

At least he's an actual character though instead of the typical blank slates

How many chapters is it anyway?

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On 30.06.2019 at 2:03 AM, Seraphim88 said:

@adamstan

I have yet to find some way to change language to Japanese, but here's an example of "they" usage:

This is during an investigation with a male partner, when the protagonist gets grabbed by someone and tries to determine if it's the partner or someone else.

What's most weird about this whole issue is the fact that it's not consistent. As I've continued playing, I've seen characters referred to by name or "he/she" plenty of times, but then it just randomly changes to "them/they" out of nowhere. One prime example is this screenshot, where one character is referred to as "they", although her name was actually used earlier in the very same sentence:

 

It indeed looks weird. However, if, like you've said, there can be different characters in that scene, the devs probably didn't write separate text for each case, and instead opted for a generic one, with names possibly inserted by some kind of script based on your choice. (you know, something like %partnername% placed in place where the name should go)

So in that case it seems like a lazy programming/scripting. Or even not as lazy as it seems, as in Japanese you could probably write those lines without using any personal pronouns, just with name here and there - but that becomes problem in English, which requires subject in each sentence (or even part of compound sentence) to be explicitly stated and, contrary to Japanese, prefers pronouns instead of names.

Like, in Japanese, sentence with "Moe" in your second example wouldn't require additional pronoun when talking about disappearing inside the building. Name at the beginning would be sufficient to establish topic/subject, and after that you don't need it anymore until new subject/topic comes.

Actually, you could write that particular sentence using similar pattern in English too, something like "Moe shrinks away in the distance until disappearing inside the building", but maybe translator or editor decided that it sounds awkward to them.

Edited by adamstan

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Huh. I forgot to post about it, but I finished Hate Plus.

What can I say, @Mr Poltroon was right. That's hella good. Better than the first game. It was interesting how screwed-up things that led to the first game were.

Spoiler

I like how there isn't necessarily an objective good in the game. What's good (or in this case, better) is up for the reader to decide. Personally thought both regimes were pretty absurd. Also, definitely Mute's game in this case. I've grown to love her even more with this game. You feel the weight of things when reading it with her.

Also that thing that happened on day 3 in Mute's route... Complicated feelings from reading about these absurdities in a time far, far away from when they happened. The initial feeling of how these things couldn't hurt u because of being close to a thousand years away from Year Zero was blown away by Mute's sudden decisions. I guess the past really can haunt you in different ways, especially those that concern your very person.

Loved the hate stories. Probably more easy to imagine in our contexts compared to that of the first game. Hopefully our own societies don't devolve to such a high level of segregation between 'nobles' and 'peasants', especially with the rising anti-democratic sentiments in different countries. 

Also played the two LoveKami games on Steam.

Spoiler

It was cute, but I wouldn't play it again. Divinity Stage was better than Useless Goddess though.

tl;dr: tits

 

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8 hours ago, adamstan said:

the devs probably didn't write separate text for each case, and instead opted for a generic one, with names possibly inserted by some kind of script based on your choice. (you know, something like %partnername% placed in place where the name should go)

Most likely, but it's still really strange how they mix different pronouns. It would make more sense to consistently use "them/they" and nothing else. In my second example, they clearly identify the character as "Moe" and it shouldn't be very hard to link the pronoun later on in the sentence to the name and make the game recognize the character as a "she".

Well, I guess there's not really much point in delving deeper into this, since it is the way it is regardless. I just hope NG, the VN released after Death Mark, will be better in this regard whenever it's localized.

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44 minutes ago, Seraphim88 said:

In my second example, they clearly identify the character as "Moe" and it shouldn't be very hard to link the pronoun later on in the sentence to the name and make the game recognize the character as a "she".

Like I speculated before, japanese text probably didn't have any pronouns in those problematic lines - that's why they didn't code gender differentiation for replacable characters. Unfortunately that doesn't work in English. Translator had to insert pronouns, and since they didn't have two versions available - it ended up with "them" ;)

Edited by adamstan

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So I finished Chaos;Head after like 8 years of having it in my backlog and I enjoyed it for the most part

The last chapter was really great but a lot of those earlier chapters were not so much

It spent way too long building up tension and focused too much on Takumi's school life which mostly consisted of him going "....."

So much of my experience was spent mindlessly clicking the next lines of dialogue while being bored by the scientific psychobabble

Spoiler

I did like the battle with the army of Seria's that tried to pummel him into bloody bits like every Otaku's nightmare, still would have preferred a better protag

Also, like, no epilogue? This vn hella needed one. So it's a 7/10 for me

Now, to play another yuri

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Just got round to starting Virtue's Last Reward. 

I finished 999 last month.

Early days yet but VLR looks pretty interesting, similar games different concept. I've finished one route so far, guess I have 8 more to go. :o

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Finished How To Date A Magical Girl yesterday. I enjoyed most of it, but you could see the main plot twist coming from a mile away. The ending was immensely unsatisfying and basically ruined the entire VN. If anyone here wants to know, this is what happens:

Spoiler

You learn that the protagonist is in a coma after being hit by a truck. Everything that happens over the course of the game is just in his head, and the girls don't actually exist.


Aaanyway...
After today, I have three weeks off from work and have decided that this will be the perfect time to finally start reading Little Busters. I've been putting it off for a long time after I randomly stumbled across what I assume is a major spoiler, which I've been hoping I'd forget about eventually. Sadly, I've been unable to do so, so I figure there's no reason to wait any longer.

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50 minutes ago, Seraphim88 said:

After today, I have three weeks off from work and have decided that this will be the perfect time to finally start reading Little Busters. I've been putting it off for a long time after I randomly stumbled across what I assume is a major spoiler, which I've been hoping I'd forget about eventually. Sadly, I've been unable to do so, so I figure there's no reason to wait any longer.

Could you reveal, in spoilers, what the spoiler was? Mostly just to satisfy my curiosity. I will give no reply either way.

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10 minutes ago, Mr Poltroon said:

Could you reveal, in spoilers, what the spoiler was? Mostly just to satisfy my curiosity. I will give no reply either way.

Spoiler

That Kyousuke dies. I have no idea how or when it happens, but I assume that it, for the sake of emotional impact, is pretty late in the story, after you've established a strong bond with the characters.

If anyone wants to comment on this matter, please make sure to do it in a way that won't spoil it further.

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