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Ourai no Gahkthun Review/Final Impressions


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On 20.2.2016 at 7:22 PM, kingdomcome said:

Gahkthun. I would like a review of it. It seems to be highly rated yet not many people read it.

Ask and you shall receive

VNDB: https://vndb.org/v11033

So,  Gahkthun was my introduction to Liar-Soft's "Beautiful"/Steampunk series, and I must say I am very much looking for all this series has to offer. Anyhoo, Gahkthun was a very rich experience: I was hyping this game to no end, and as it finally marathoned it in about 3 days (or about 27-ish hours). I was feeling very fufilled but also quite empty after this adventure. As this game is at the moment fresh in my mind, I though it would be a great time to tell you beautiful people my honest feelings for this game. Now then, let us begin.

Story

The story of Gahkthun is a rather good one. Basically, one man declares a rebellion against the leading force of Marceilles Offshore Academia, the Governing Counil, and within, the leaders, The Supreme Six. Before that our dear protagonist, Nikola Tesla, saves our main heroine, Neon Scalar Smilja. Together these two solve all sorts of supernatural mysteries, evildoers, and perhaps, maybe something even more vile. The story progresses at an comfortable pace and introduces characters in a pace that isn't too fast nor too slow. As the story progresses it never gets stale and keeps getting progressively more serious, but also gives the player breathers so that the player can chew what has just happened. Gahkthun Brings many odd titles and names, which for me brought great deal of confusion, but Gahkthun has a handy Encyclopedia to look up these alien terms and names, so they shouldn't prove any major issues. At the start Gahkthun has a lot of loose ends. These loose ends get enlightened when the story progresses, but most of them are in sow form connected to the chapter you're reading. In the final chapter, all the loose ends that are leftover (there are a lot) get answered, and the conclusions are earth-shattering, at least for me, giving the story fulfillment. The ending of Gahkthun is nothing extremely special, but gives you fulfillment, completion. A happy end, in other words. I quite enjoyed the ending of Gahkthun. Honestly, Gahkthun is kind of shounen-esque and repetitive, but as it was fresh to me, I liked it. 

Characters

Almost all of the characters in Gahkthun are either interesting or enjoyable, if not both. One of the main characters, Tesla is hands-down my favorite MC to this day. Neon had her fair share of cringe-worthy moments, but I overall liked her in the end. The Governing Council's Supreme Six all have unique individualistic personalities and traits with clear motives most of the time, making them all quite likeable, some more than others. Other minor characters have their moments, but most of them are rather bland, but still somewhat likeable in the end. Extra mentions to the stern, yet kind Anna, always cheerful Izumi, and the kind and sweet Odenne. Characters are for the most part fantastic.

Voice Acting

The voice acting in Gahkthun is great. All of the characters voices are well fleshed out and quite good. As Gahkthun has a lot of fighting scenes, the voices don't sound awkward in those, rather they sound aggressive, intense and serious, just how they should. Voice acting in the H-scenes is average: In some scenes it is great, but in some scenes it sounds awkward. Most of the time awkward, but at the same time really well done. But they aren't a major part of the story, nor the voice acting, it shouldn't pose as something you can't overcome. 

Art

Art in Gahkthun is maybe the best I have ever seen in a Visual Novel. The lines are crisp, the colors are vibrant and colorful, full of emotion. The character designs are somehow in the norm, yet different. They are fantastic: The eyes, proportions, robust, anatomy, almost everything. The CGs are really well made and usually have action-like cut-ins, which are nice. As said before, the fighting scenes are made beautifully with the help of these vibrant, intense CGs. The H-scenes' art is rather average comprared to the rest of Gahkthun. They have only one or two still-picture CGs, but they are brilliantly colored and the faces are really well done, albeit these scenes' art is somewhat dull. The backgrounds are done extremely well.

Writing

The writing in Gahkthun is honestly the best I have seen in a long time in a VN. The words make the dialogue flow rather nicely, it is easy to follow and the lines aren't cramped nor full, just spacious and easy on the eye. The translation was very well done, professional work, however I felt that the translation was kind of over-explaining things. When I listened to the Japanese voice acting, sometimes the lines we're almost doubled in contrast to the voice acting, and sometimes the voices ended way before I finished reading the lines through, which doesn't happen often to me. This however is just minor nitpicking, and shouldn't affect the experience, but for me it did, even if it did for just a little bit..

Music

Gahkthun's music was great. Most of the tracks were great for background music and for creating an atmosphere, but nothing more. The OP, ED and two fighting scene tracks are good enough for me to listen them when doing something else. 

UI and Mechanics

The UI and mechanics we're slightly different than usual. The Encyclopedia is one thing, and that is almost for all the mechanics, which is rather disappointing for an expansive, fleshed out world like this on, but it still is more than your average VN. The UI was honestly a let-down. The placement of the different buttons was cleverly made, but the negatives outweighs the positives for the most. There is no backlog per se, there just is the past dialogue if you scroll up or press the button. The Auto mode works rather well, but disables itself if you press anything and skips to the next line, which was a little annoying when I was playing through it. Other than that it had an average UI, nothing special. 

Settings

These were really lackluster. They were as bare-bones as you could get. The simplest sound settings: just sliders. Fullscreen or 600x800 windowed, nothing special. Text speed has three options. Honestly, I would've hoped for a slider, but oh well, you get what you get. Disappointing, to say the least.

 

So, when all that is rated, Gahkthun gets an 9 from me. This VN is truly fantastic in my opinion. I have not been interested in a VN in a long time, and Gahkthun honestly surprised me in its quality. This Visual Novel more than deserves all the hype it has accumulated. I am honestly glad that it was my introduction to this "Beautiul" series, and I will not stop here. I hope you too will go get Gahkthun and enjoy it just as much as I did. Trust me, it is really good.

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2 hours ago, Arcadeotic said:

Art

Art in Gahkthun is maybe the best I have ever seen in a Visual Novel.

https://vndb.org/v18713 Just gonna ... Just gonna leave this here :illya:

 

Nah, seriously though, great review arc. I have to get off my lazy ass and finish this.

Tell you what, if @Eclipsed finishes this before me, I'l re-play school days. Twice :makina:

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4 minutes ago, Dergonu said:

https://vndb.org/v18713 Just gonna ... Just gonna leave this here :illya:

 

Nah, seriously though, great review arc. I have to get off my lazy ass and finish this.

Tell you what, if @Eclipsed finishes this before me, I'l re-play school days. Twice :makina:

Hoho

Sayori does have good art style, but it's not as charming as art in Gahkthun.

Eclipse, get on it, asap

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4 hours ago, Dergonu said:

https://vndb.org/v18713 Just gonna ... Just gonna leave this here :illya:

 

Nah, seriously though, great review arc. I have to get off my lazy ass and finish this.

Tell you what, if @Eclipsed finishes this before me, I'l re-play school days. Twice :makina:

You whoop' me ez, I reaaaally dont think I'll get to this anytime soon. And I cant bet that I'll read something if you do win, cuz I wont read that either :vinty:

 

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I think that both Sharnoth and Inganock is better though.

One of the thing I really have problems with is the supposedly important character in Gahkthun, like Neon's friends, doesnt get much light. In fact, they are demoted to a replacable extra, and most chapters focused on unimportant charas that barely got another mention, like Rodin.

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there not enough tesla & neon moment for me and i feel repetitive when reading some chapter and some character just got abandon/forgotten 

But i really love fandisc there so much tesla & neon and real romantic development since they officially couple and story are much more funny

not that i hate the first one i just prefer the fandisc atmosphere more

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5 minutes ago, Nerathim said:

The best translated steampunk imo, not unnecessarily convoluted like Inganock can be and not as badly paced as Sharnoth, it sealed the deal for me with the characters being no less interesting than in the previous titles

Sona-Nyl shows great promise as does Tokedai no Jeanne

Really hope they get translated

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We all know Kindred Spirits on the Roof is liar-soft's hottest game right now. 

Tesla really sold me on Gahkthun to the point he's one of my top husbandos. The guy is a walking piece of bad assery that takes absolutely no shits from anyone, even women. He puts mean bitches in their rightful place. Example:

 

Spoiler

 

XuatkiY.jpg

VHE2mlx.jpg

 

 

H-scenes also sold me on this game. Never have I seen anywhere of characters yelling out obvious WTF lines like "your dick is so good", "pump your semen inside of me", "your pussy is squeezing me tight", or any of that cliche bullshit we hear in our eroges. In fact, the characters never even mentioned the word "dick", "penis", "pussy" in the h-scenes but still make it very hot and erotic! Can you believe that!? It's just pure passion, with the heroines keeping their thoughts to themselves in inner monologues, describing the sex act in deeply erotic detail and giving us their alluring moans and gasps. 

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10 hours ago, castor212 said:

In fact, they are demoted to a replacable extra, and most chapters focused on unimportant charas that barely got another mention, like Rodin.

This is actually my biggest problem with Liar-Soft VN's. I like overarching plots with well developed characters, but Liar-Soft VN's are more loosely related short story episodes with throw-away characters that only act as mere plot-devices and are dropped immediately after the episode ends. Sharnoth's ultra-simplistic 'monster of the week' episode structure therefore left a strong 'never again' impression on me. And since all Liar-Soft titles seem to be structured in the same way, there's probably little hope that I'll like any of them.

And that's a bit of a shame since some of their scenarios actually look quite interesting, especially the upcoming Tokeidai no Jeanne. But weak character casts are a definite no-go and will ruin even the best scenario for me.

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3 hours ago, ChaosRaven said:

This is actually my biggest problem with Liar-Soft VN's. I like overarching plots with well developed characters, but Liar-Soft VN's are more loosely related short story episodes with throw-away characters that only act as mere plot-devices and are dropped immediately after the episode ends. Sharnoth's ultra-simplistic 'monster of the week' episode structure therefore left a strong 'never again' impression on me. And since all Liar-Soft titles seem to be structured in the same way, there's probably little hope that I'll like any of them.

And that's a bit of a shame since some of their scenarios actually look quite interesting, especially the upcoming Tokeidai no Jeanne. But weak character casts are a definite no-go and will ruin even the best scenario for me.

I actually have the same aversion to overly episodic content and preference for overarching plot and characters - in anime, I like to cite Natsume Yuujinchou as an example of something which I think is probably really great but just doesn't work for me, because of it never making any progress on characters or an overarching plot (at least for the two seasons I watched... which is a fair bit of time to sink in).

But despite that, I really like both of the Steampunk series games I've read (Inganock and Gahkthun). Even though there are new monsters and side-characters appearing and disappearing with each chapter, each chapter nonetheless is typically advancing the main characters and main plot as well. Just as importantly, with every chapter, the reader's perception of the setting and story shifts a little as well - I don't mean simple exposition, but rather that the events make you realize new themes that have been laced throughout the story, or reconsider and reframe themes you had already understood, but now nudged into place a little more firmly.

Lastly, Gahkthun especially was using those chapters as an important pacing mechanism (this didn't seem to be the case as much in Inganock, though). In Gahkthun, the chapters were quite different in terms of the amount of time they focused on drama, on action, and on more slice-of-life. I actually appreciated the resulting pacing it achieved by juggling between those. When you get too much of any one of those elements in a row, things tend to drag; Gahkthun never dragged, for me.

I'll take on the aforementioned Rodin chapter as an example of those things (spoilers for the content of the game in general, not just that chapter):

Spoiler

Pacing: If I recall correctly, Rodin's chapter was placed between Jo's chapter and the first chapter of the finale. Given that, I think a chapter which was light on drama was absolutely necessary for pacing. If the story had gone headlong from Jo to the finale, it would've been too much heavy dramatic content in a row.

Characters: Now, Rodin had like a 1-second cameo in the entire remainder of the VN, if I recall correctly, so I won't even try to claim that he was important. However, character-wise, the chapter did give an opportunity to reinforce and strengthen the Neon and Tesla relationship, with the nice little tie back to chapter... 2, I think? We got to see very similar events to the end of chapter 2 (again, I think...), but the reason these events transpired was different (Neon got caught up in it, not as a hapless victim, but as an active participant trying to protect someone else - character development!) and the way the resulting events was interpreted by the PoV character Neon had changed as well (she finally does some more genuine assessment of her own feelings and Tesla's). So it felt, to me, like there was some real character development of the main characters in this chapter.

Themes: The new exposition about Arts, how they manifest, etc., solidly advanced one of Gahkthun's main themes: the common human struggle between desiring easy wish fulfilment and desiring to carve our own path through the world. Rodin was already recognized as a sculptor nonpareil, completely dedicated to a craft of which he was the acknowledged master, but even he was subject to the fear that he couldn't make his own desires reality and succumbed to the Bell's wish granting.

 

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4 hours ago, ChaosRaven said:

This is actually my biggest problem with Liar-Soft VN's. I like overarching plots with well developed characters, but Liar-Soft VN's are more loosely related short story episodes with throw-away characters that only act as mere plot-devices and are dropped immediately after the episode ends. Sharnoth's ultra-simplistic 'monster of the week' episode structure therefore left a strong 'never again' impression on me. And since all Liar-Soft titles seem to be structured in the same way, there's probably little hope that I'll like any of them.

And that's a bit of a shame since some of their scenarios actually look quite interesting, especially the upcoming Tokeidai no Jeanne. But weak character casts are a definite no-go and will ruin even the best scenario for me.

Y'know, this is 10000000000000% spot on how I felt about Shikkoku no Sharnoth and why I'm so gated from committing to Gahkthun. I liked the setting and premise, but fk me, all the episodicness and throw-away characters just made reading through such a slog.

Supposedly Gahkthun improves on that aspect, but since Shikkoku's lolWinstonChurchill voices Tesla I'm just :makina:.

 

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7 minutes ago, Fred the Barber said:

I actually have the same aversion to overly episodic content and preference for overarching plot and characters - in anime, I like to cite Natsume Yuujinchou as an example of something which I think is probably really great but just doesn't work for me, because of it never making any progress on characters or an overarching plot (at least for the two seasons I watched... which is a fair bit of time to sink in).

But despite that, I really like both of the Steampunk series games I've read (Inganock and Gahkthun). Even though there are new monsters and side-characters appearing and disappearing with each chapter, each chapter nonetheless is typically advancing the main characters and main plot as well. Just as importantly, with every chapter, the reader's perception of the setting and story shifts a little as well - I don't mean simple exposition, but rather that the events make you realize new themes that have been laced throughout the story, or reconsider and reframe themes you had already understood, but now nudged into place a little more firmly.

Lastly, Gahkthun especially was using those chapters as an important pacing mechanism (this didn't seem to be the case as much in Inganock, though). In Gahkthun, the chapters were quite different in terms of the amount of time they focused on drama, on action, and on more slice-of-life. I actually appreciated the resulting pacing it achieved by juggling between those. When you get too much of any one of those elements in a row, things tend to drag; Gahkthun never dragged, for me.

I'll take on the aforementioned Rodin chapter as an example of those things (spoilers for the content of the game in general, not just that chapter):

  Reveal hidden contents

Pacing: If I recall correctly, Rodin's chapter was placed between Jo's chapter and the first chapter of the finale. Given that, I think a chapter which was light on drama was absolutely necessary for pacing. If the story had gone headlong from Jo to the finale, it would've been too much heavy dramatic content in a row.

Characters: Now, Rodin had like a 1-second cameo in the entire remainder of the VN, if I recall correctly, so I won't even try to claim that he was important. However, character-wise, the chapter did give an opportunity to reinforce and strengthen the Neon and Tesla relationship, with the nice little tie back to chapter... 2, I think? We got to see very similar events to the end of chapter 2 (again, I think...), but the reason these events transpired was different (Neon got caught up in it, not as a hapless victim, but as an active participant trying to protect someone else - character development!) and the way the resulting events was interpreted by the PoV character Neon had changed as well (she finally does some more genuine assessment of her own feelings and Tesla's). So it felt, to me, like there was some real character development of the main characters in this chapter.

Themes: The new exposition about Arts, how they manifest, etc., solidly advanced one of Gahkthun's main themes: the common human struggle between desiring easy wish fulfilment and desiring to carve our own path through the world. Rodin was already recognized as a sculptor nonpareil, completely dedicated to a craft of which he was the acknowledged master, but even he was subject to the fear that he couldn't make his own desires reality and succumbed to the Bell's wish granting.

 

I wholeheartedly agree with this. In a way the episodic pacing, changing cast and the different themes they bring are the essence of Steampunk games.

Each chapter is a smaller story with focus on different concepts, using varied characters to convey these in ways the main character couldn't. And these side characters are at times better developed than your average VN-characters, despite the short period where they appear. 
You see the new characters of each chapter struggle with their problems and influencing the main characters because of this. There might some conclusion to these struggles, good, bad or indeterminate, but in the end the story and life of the characters continues flowing onward, leaving it's mark in the characters and the reader. Much like in real life, short encounters can influence people more than you can imagine, and the briefness doesn't make them any less important. Even if you never hear about certain character afterwards the meaning of this encounter still stays.

While Steampunk games have the bigger story going on, it's usually not most important part. The fantastic setting and events are just a stage for the more mundane and simple things. The real substance of Steampunk games is found in these fleeting relationships between the characters and in beauty that can be found in simple things like memories and so on.   

But that's just how I feel, and I can easily understand why this style might not please everyone. I personally found the beauty of Steampunk games when reading my third Steampunk VN: Gahkthun, so it's kind of an acquired taste. 

Still, Steampunk games are pretty cool stories even if you don't buy into my ramblings. Gahkthun is really good VN and in my opinion the most accessible and best place to start with the series.  

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22 hours ago, ChaosRaven said:

This is actually my biggest problem with Liar-Soft VN's. I like overarching plots with well developed characters, but Liar-Soft VN's are more loosely related short story episodes with throw-away characters that only act as mere plot-devices and are dropped immediately after the episode ends. Sharnoth's ultra-simplistic 'monster of the week' episode structure therefore left a strong 'never again' impression on me. And since all Liar-Soft titles seem to be structured in the same way, there's probably little hope that I'll like any of them.

And that's a bit of a shame since some of their scenarios actually look quite interesting, especially the upcoming Tokeidai no Jeanne. But weak character casts are a definite no-go and will ruin even the best scenario for me.

TBH, it;s not the Monster of the Week that is my problem here, but the prioritization.

I kinda like what they did in SHarnoth and Inganock. At the very least, the friends of the main charas got a story and enough spotlight that they dont feel useless.
Gahkthun, on the other, still focus on unimportant chara, but abandon a big part of the protag circle of friend. The only one who gets enough is Louis Charles and JJ, and that's barely enough. The rest felt kinda extra, and wasnt integrated to the story properly.

 

Also, I kinda dont like how Wilhelm battle is..... very short, to say the least, and Florence got a shitload of build up but doesnt get explained clearly in the end.

 

Then again, it could be just me.

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23 hours ago, ChaosRaven said:

This is actually my biggest problem with Liar-Soft VN's. I like overarching plots with well developed characters, but Liar-Soft VN's are more loosely related short story episodes with throw-away characters that only act as mere plot-devices and are dropped immediately after the episode ends. Sharnoth's ultra-simplistic 'monster of the week' episode structure therefore left a strong 'never again' impression on me. And since all Liar-Soft titles seem to be structured in the same way, there's probably little hope that I'll like any of them.

And that's a bit of a shame since some of their scenarios actually look quite interesting, especially the upcoming Tokeidai no Jeanne. But weak character casts are a definite no-go and will ruin even the best scenario for me.

Um, what you are talking about is not Liar-Soft, but Sakurai Hikaru and I agree with your assessment, but she's not involved with Tokeidai no Jeanne in any shape or form. :P

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2 hours ago, Conjueror said:

Um, what you are talking about is not Liar-Soft, but Sakurai Hikaru and I agree with your assessment, but she's not involved with Tokeidai no Jeanne in any shape or form. :P

Considering that pretty much everything translated from Liar-Soft except Cannonball is from Sakurai it doesn't make much of a difference I guess.

BTW, is Sakurai now a man or woman? I'm hearing a different gender in every second discussion about her (or him). Is Sakurai the Ranma 1/2 of VN writers?!

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53 minutes ago, ChaosRaven said:

Considering that pretty much everything translated from Liar-Soft except Cannonball is from Sakurai it doesn't make much of a difference I guess.

BTW, is Sakurai now a man or woman? I'm hearing a different gender in every second discussion about her (or him). Is Sakurai the Ranma 1/2 of VN writers?!

so because you cant undestand the games that sakurai didnt write for liar-soft then it doesnt matter? jesus christ.

And Sakurai is a guy.

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2 hours ago, ChaosRaven said:

Considering that pretty much everything translated from Liar-Soft except Cannonball is from Sakurai it doesn't make much of a difference I guess.

BTW, is Sakurai now a man or woman? I'm hearing a different gender in every second discussion about her (or him). Is Sakurai the Ranma 1/2 of VN writers?!

Forest is written by Hoshizora-Meteor

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1 hour ago, Kawasumi said:

so because you cant undestand the games that sakurai didnt write for liar-soft then it doesnt matter? jesus christ.

It doesn't make a big difference if you're just considering the 'translated' Liar-Soft visual novels. And Sakurai is arguably their main writer. I didn't even know that he writes for other studios too.

8 minutes ago, WinterfuryZX said:

Forest is written by Hoshizora-Meteor

Okay, that makes already 2 non-Sakurai Liar-Soft titles. Still 4 from Sakurai at least, and those are the bigger ones I think.

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