Jump to content
mitchhamilton

Can Too Many Choices Ruin Your VN Reading Experience?

Recommended Posts

choices in vns go hand in hand like socks and shoes, or hammer and nails or poorly handled pr from trumps team. These are usually present in a vn to branch off from the common route and onto a girls route or to take the story in another direction. but sometimes i find that a vn with too many and/or choices that need to be precise to kind of ruin the experience for me. take for instance clannad or kara no shoujo. tried reading both but both require some precise choices in order to continue the stories or get on the true route. nothing wrong with these vns really, just that i find having my reading experience kind of ruined because im constantly checking a walkthrough to continue on.

 

what about you?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Occassionally you may read a VN making choices on the run, and there are easier VNs for that (i. e. those novels with choices that clearly point to a certain girl). That's okay and feels very fresh.

But when you have a VN reading economy and try to maximise the number of VNs read, or have a great backlog waiting to be thinned, walkthroughs and guides are pretty mandatory anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've actually posted on this before... but I'll give you a summary of my thoughts on the matter.

First, the question you have to ask is if the questions actually have meaning.  To be honest, most charage only really need one choice (the choice of which heroine to follow), but they include numerous choices in order to give you the illusion of player agency... which is fairly meaningless in a medium where player agency is nonexistent save in picking which heroine to go after in most cases.

More story-focused VNs are often different, though.  For example, Tasogare no Sinsemilla has numerous choices, but this is because the main story changes dramatically on how you approach the game's mysteries and your interactions with the characters, to the point where there are actually three independent paths through the games with multiple heroines branching off from each and several bad endings.  With this kind of story complexity, it actually makes sense to have a lot of choices.

There are, however, numerous games out there where only one choice will actually have meaning to the story, but, despite this, there are nine or ten choices included, none of which have any effect whatsoever on the story progression.  All this does is break up the progression of the story and weaken the presentation as a whole, in my opinion. 

Edit: Incidentally, this wasn't the case in the past, but nowadays most VNs with more than four choices that aren't story-focused are kusoge.

Edited by Clephas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll add that when going for 100%, or simply progressing smoothly through the game, you'll end up getting the guide.

For example, I am playing Rewrite at the moment, and I really want to get to the final routes (Moon and Terra), so I can't really spend a lot of time figuring why I didn't get into the Akane route. I mean, I could, but it would be a waste of my time. And not particularly thrilling either. I consult the guide and go, "oh, so that silly choice in the club really affects what route you get into. Interesting. Problem solved, yay".

Likewise, games with a lot of endings such as The way we all go are pretty torture (and lots and lots of time and, well, boredom) if you try to unravel the choice tree. I mean, it's not unfathomable that there are people who enjoy unraveling the choice tree by themselves, a la old school, but it's more humane and economical to just get a guide and be done with it. You get the same content either way.

Because, if you could play 200 novels in your lifetime, why play only 100? Compare with anime, that has a fixed watching time with no shortcuts. Your time is precious (I actually do more things than weeb stuff, even if I usually have a lot of free time and my free time usually consists of things like these).

To go on topic: the likes of Clannad are labyrinthine, and Clannad is bloated as well, but my point is unless the novel is really silly and basic romcom, you'll equally need a guide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kinetic novels are okay for trying something new and hopefully fresh, but there are limits to what you can convey with them.

I mean, long novels aren't long for the sake of it (some are bloated, though). I suppose companies would love to release kinetic novels that sold like crazy, but that's not always what the people are demanding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, mitchhamilton said:

 because im constantly checking a walkthrough to continue on.

I couldn't agree more with this. I like to reach the routes and the endings on my own, but for some games this is pretty much impossible bc of invisible affection points system or way too random choices that somehow affect the story. Following a walkthrough from the start... kinda defeats the purpose of having choices, at least for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Too many choices will never ruin my VN experience, provided some walkthroughs exist out there. Even if guides do not exist, I will only become exasperated with the visual novel if the game does not give me feedback and the choice system possesses a lot of complexity or too few acceptable choice combinations to progress.

But I find that the question is too vague. There are many kinds of choices, and the way they affect the reading experience is what actually makes their frequency relevant.

Let's take CLANNAD as an example: There is a high number of choices, but this is only a problem because you need an exact combination of choices to access the routes, and these choices aren't clear. Getting into the routes and endings you want is as easy as checking some 15! combinations of choices.
Contrast it with Majikoi: The number of choices is still high, but these do not affect the route you are on (except for extraordinary circumstances or well-signaled bad ends). Getting into the routes and endings you want is as easy as selecting your preferred character's portrait.

So yes, some games do choices wrong: One ~To the Radiant Season~ or Canvas 2, where all heroines share space in the common route in such a way that you could be halfway through someone's route when you notice you missed a choice 3 hours back and get stuck on the default bad end.
But this is a problem with how the choices affect the game, not their number (though, admittedly, the problem only becomes evident when you have high numbers of choices). Here are a few examples of systems in Visual Novels where a high number of choices shouldn't ruin the experience:

Fate/stay night has a high number of choices, but not only are they relevant to the story, their consequences are immediate (in most cases). You don't have to wait until you reach the default ending 5 hours from that point; you immediately know you failed and, more importantly, where you failed. Their fail-safe system, post bad end hints, isn't even necessary!

In Steins;Gate, the true route is only accessible through a mindbogglingly precise combination of choices. It is figurative hell without a walkthrough. Here, the very setup of the choices supports the narrative: The actual chance of getting the True End is supposed to be infinitesimal. It makes for a poor player experience but... is it truly wrong?

Sometimes, the game simply doesn't let you progress until you make the correct choices. The existence of these tends to have a narrative purpose, or is part of a minigame involving the choices. Lucid9 comes to mind, as, at certain points, you must reach the correct answers before advancing with the story.

There are some visual novels that play it safe even when there's little need. SakuSaku has a tie breaker in case you are nice to every single girl, and a second tie breaker (where you literally select the name of your preferred lass) in case you still manage to not opt for a girl through the well-telegraphed choices.

But even with a lot of complicated choices, external systems may help make the experience quite bearable. School Days has a bar indicating your affection points with each of the two girls, for instance. It also happens to be a horrible example because that bar is horribly broken and there's still quite a few endings outside the realm of that bar, like with other girls or bad ends.

 

And do not forget the visual novels that are meant to be choice-mazes. Despite their high number of choices and unique combinations necessary to get into certain endings, they are designed so that you see or learn something new every time you play.
In Crimson Gray your ultimate objective is to, uh, not get a crappy ending. Light spoilers for the structure of the game: Over the course of the story there are a number of bad ends, which generally occur shortly after you make the wrong choice, and a number of unique ends. On your first few playthroughs, these unique endings are accessible through avoiding all of the other bad ends - reaching the end of a path, essentially. And there are a couple of paths as a result of your choices early on. Each time you reach a unique path, the game triggers some flags behind the scenes, which make it so that, once you replay the game, not as many choices lock you into a bad end, and makes it so that some of the choices start helping you get to a good ending.
It's more intuitive than I'm making it sound, and tied to the narrative. Reaching these unique ends will give you information that informs and affects the choices you make, getting you on paths more likely to reach a good ending.

 

And then you should consider how a high number of choices can also serve other purposes, like comedy or facilitating replays.
Majikoi, Key games, and One ~To the Radiant Season~ have provided me with a lot of laughs as a result of their choices. At least half of them are for the sake of comedy, and are there specifically so replays always have something new to offer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was about to say that I've never come across a game where having too many choices bothered me (I haven't played most of the above mentioned offending games)
...until I remembered Extravaganza.

IDK if it's just me, but that game was impossible to navigate without a walkthrough. When it gets to that point, I think it does detract from the experience.

Edited by Beichuuka

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It all comes back to the quality of those choices and what it does in the story.

If the VN has a ton of choices that just lead to the exact same standard bad end at meaningless places in the story then I don't find that meaningful.

On the other hand something like CLANNAD nails it well by having an abundance of choices but at the same time making a lot of silly routes with those choices which makes them interesting to go into.

Or something like those battle royale VNs where a ton of choices are given to a bad end but in this case it is meant to help immerse you in that life or death situation and letting you see what happened if you made that choice allowing the player to feel more immersed.

 

 

The thing is you can't view number of choices as a measure of how good or bad a VN is. 

It is essentially a feature of the game And thus, a feature is rarely how you should judge a game but rather the IMPLEMENTATION and PURPOSE of said feature and how it effects you enjoyment is what should be taken into account. A battle royale VN would likely benefit from an abundance of choices seeing as how it helps aid immersion while a simple Slice of life would likely benefit having less as I personally would prefer to have a smooth reading experience rather than constantly making choices. 

Mr Poltroon makes many valid points and I agree with him as well that the question is vague.

 

 

 

Edited by iamnoob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Only if the choices add next to no replayability, only changing a few lines of dialogue.

The choose-your-own-adventure aspect is what i like the most about VNs, so a lot of choices leading to lots of endings is to my liking, especially in cases like Clannad (like 10 different routes) and Fate/Stay Night (few routes, but a ton of bad endings).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me, choices affect VN's primarily based on relevance.

As with all route-structured VN's, choices ARE necessary to decide on the path you wish the story to follow.

Choices seem to be divided in 3 ways.

Choices that affect what route you go on, generally by a flag system, where each choice pushes you closer to the character/event you like. (Example -> Kira Kira)

Choices that lead to progression. Generally the right choice allows you to progress while the wrong choice leads to a BAD end. (In a lot of cases the bad ends are really good and add an element of realism to the story so these large number of choices are enjoyable)

Meaningless choices. These literally affect nothing.

WHile I generally do not mind a lot of choices, provided that the path to obtaining the desired ending is not to convoluted, it can sometimes break the flow of reading.

Also some choices have no relation to the outcome. For example, in Kara no shoujo series, you have to decide what place you want to go and based on the places you go you get different endings. THese kind of choices tend to be irritating and can make a walkthrough necessary.

However, most VN's have an acceptable number of choices, and the complicated ones can be played with a walkthrough so it shouldn't bother/ruin anyone's experience. 

In fact, a lot of awesome people here on fuwa make incredibly comprehensive/well written walkthroughs, with almost every combination of choices. I've used these and have never felt any VN has to many choices.

 

Edited by Akshay

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't but agree with Clephas point of view. I see cartagra as a Storie-focused VN with a healthy number of choices.

I rarely get sick of choices (Only in Kara no Shoujo when you have to choose the places you want to go)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Eclipsed said:

Yes, i tend to completionist-try-to-see-all-possible-outcomes/dialogue and so when the VN is littered with choices i get shrekt'd

Same, that's why I started doing ~Choice recovery~ on my walktroughs in the first place xoD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, mitchhamilton said:

you are a wise sage, sir. i think we can all agree that you have enlightened us with this in depth answer. thank you for taking the time to write this down for us all to see. we are not worthy. :kosame:

Glad to be of service.

I hate pointless choices that make no difference to the game, but even more I hate choices that do make a difference to the game but there is no logical connection with the outcome based on the choice. I'm too old to take any enjoyment whatsoever out of bad endings too so that pretty much leaves me with only Alcot type choice selections - make 3 choices in total which ends up choosing which heroine's good end you get and there is no bad end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember having this discussion some time ago, and I still hold the same opinion. I tend to read the games for the story, not to actually "play" it, so I prefer to follow walkthroughs and to be safe. Because of that, I never felt really troubled by having a lot of choices, but as many have adressed, there are some games like Clannad or KnS where choices can be a huge problem.

And although it is not true to every game, when I read Sound of Drop, my only complaint about it was that almost EVERY choice had a bad ending tied to it. All imediate, but some added too little to the story, so at a point I simply avoided them to get to the true endings. I love when there are many options of endings, but there is a limit to what is enough when deviating from the main path.

 I still don't know why there was no walkthrough for MYTH, but this game was the worst experience for I was reading it completely blind, and still don't know if I truly reached the true ending. The choices (and the whole settingS) were too hard for my mind to assimilate.

So, in general, I don't mind too many choices if the endings are worth it, and for me they are only a problem when the story doesn't help either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, ittaku said:

Glad to be of service.

I hate pointless choices that make no difference to the game, but even more I hate choices that do make a difference to the game but there is no logical connection with the outcome based on the choice. I'm too old to take any enjoyment whatsoever out of bad endings too so that pretty much leaves me with only Alcot type choice selections - make 3 choices in total which ends up choosing which heroine's good end you get and there is no bad end.

I somewhat agree with you, like on Fate, there are so choices that raises the points for the Heroines even though they're not even on the scene at all (similar to Dmmd where you go into a route by literaly "Thinking" about the character).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Silvz said:

I remember having this discussion some time ago, and I still hold the same opinion. I tend to read the games for the story, not to actually "play" it, so I prefer to follow walkthroughs and to be safe. Because of that, I never felt really troubled by having a lot of choices, but as many have adressed, there are some games like Clannad or KnS where choices can be a huge problem.

And although it is not true to every game, when I read Sound of Drop, my only complaint about it was that almost EVERY choice had a bad ending tied to it. All imediate, but some added too little to the story, so at a point I simply avoided them to get to the true endings. I love when there are many options of endings, but there is a limit to what is enough when deviating from the main path.

 I still don't know why there was no walkthrough for MYTH, but this game was the worst experience for I was reading it completely blind, and still don't know if I truly reached the true ending. The choices (and the whole settingS) were too hard for my mind to assimilate.

So, in general, I don't mind too many choices if the endings are worth it, and for me they are only a problem when the story doesn't help either.

Sound of Drop have colored choices to them and also it's pretty easy to figure out which choice is the one that leads to the bad end (with so exceptions), I dunno about MYTH, but I remember you requesting me to make a walktrough for this specific Novel, I eventually go around to play it and make a walktrough for it, I just need to finish other Vns and also deal with some personal life garbage...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with a lot of people here.

I like choices! But they shouldn't be meaningless. They should add to the story. Even if it's simple character trivia.

Kinetic novels are ok but I'd much rather have multiple paths/endings.

My biggest problem is non-obvious choices, like, you never know what you're doing wrong until it's too late because the choices didn't seem important or are confusingly worded. This often results in the wrong route/ending because you accidentally messed up somewhere. :(

Bad endings can be entertaining but are mostly a bummer. Especially because you get too invested on the characters, so when something bad happens, you feel like crap later.

Edited by TomokoKuroki

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×