Amnesia: Memories (Spoiler-FILLED)

Amnesia Memories: Spoiler-Filled-Review!

SPOILERS

You’ve been warned.

Don’t cry to me if you read this.

I’m not going to give a detailed play by play, but I’ll probably get close. I’ll try to avoid HUGE FEELS-FILLED moments, but you might be able to see them coming a mile away if you read this prior to playing the game.

I’m not heartless though, so the first section after this warning will be Short Summaries – What’s the guy’s personality like, Voice Actor, Big Triggery Things (if any), etc.

The section after the Short Summaries will be much more in-depth.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Short Version
:
Premise: You’ve lost your memory thanks to a spirit crashing into you. Orion is stuck with you until you unseal your memories, and you really Must Unseal your Memories. If you don’t Orion could be bound to you for a long time and you’ll slowly slip into a gibbering worthless coma – assuming you don’t DIE before then.

There are four worlds to choose from – you exist in all of them – Heart, Spade, Club, and Diamond – and it’s recommended to play them in that order if you want the whole story – and to unlock its full conclusion in the Joker World.

The Cast:
Shin (Heart World) – Shin’s your BF in the Heart World, and he’s been your childhood friend long before that. He’s brash, blunt, and kind of a bastard at times – but he’s also protective, pragmatic, and possibly the sweetest one of them all. Trusting Shin has your best interests at heart is the key to navigating this world. There’s not any problematic parts to Shin’s story to speak of – though, as in all the worlds, the Bad Endings can be a bit Brutal.

Ikki (Spade World) – Ikki’s a real Lady’s Man. His eyes can cause girls to fall in love with him at a glance, and as such he’s got quite the fan club. A fan club with a pretty dark secret. You two are dating, but it’s hard to understand to what end when you first come into this particular world without your memories. Believe in what Ikki says when you’re both alone, and don’t give any weight to what he says or does when the fan club is around and you’ll navigate this world a lot more solidly. As long as you can slug through the first week of choices there’s nothing inherently bad about this route either. I started out rolling my eyes at Ikki, and ended the play through almost completely won over.

Kent (Club World) – Logic. Cold – Hard – Logic. Kent’s brain is MATH. Kent’s Heart is practically MATH too. He gets it legitimately from his parents, but it makes him mercilessly blunt when it comes to situations. It’s a little heart achy to think you two would probably have never had a chance of success without the incident of you losing your memory. Kent’s also the only route where your boyfriend finds out about Orion. It’s probably why, nearly neck and neck, Kent’s my favorite (next to Shin) -^_^-

Toma (Diamond World) – Toma is a tormented soul. I’ve grown to not actively Loathe his route, but it is problematic from Start to Finish. I’m curious about the extended interactions between him and the heroine, because in my opinion this guy better spend his LIFE making up for what happens in the 30 days of the game. He loves her to death – no, I mean this quite literally. Toma’s twisted psyche makes his world the second most perilous route in the game. The only “good” thing about this guy is he’s probably a total freak in bed. The key to navigating Toma’s world is to be overt in your feelings toward him – if you’re not bold his mind’s going go down some Dark !@#ing Roads.

Joker (Joker World) – I don’t want to give away too much about this option. I will say that it ties all the other world’s stories together neatly. You’ll run across this guy in the other worlds, and he is Creepy, and very dangerous. He’s dangerous because he’s tormented like Toma multiplied by 100. The most dangerous route with the tightest rope to walk, the best advice I have for this world is to be nice toward him, but gods and demons do NOT trust him. He doesn’t trust him.
Long Haul Review:
I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy Amnesia: Memories. It’s got a modern day setting and a lot of reviews complain about how “air headed” the heroine is. Though honestly if I’d forgotten so much I wasn’t sure of my OWN NAME I’d be a bit ditzy too. No default name means no one actually says her name, so feel free to change it to whatever you prefer.

Probably one of the best parts about this game is that when you pick the world you pick the guy, and since you’re basically playing over the same month over and over that’s a good thing. The relationships are established – WITHIN each world. Childhood friends in one world might be nothing but coworkers in another might be step-brothers in another world, etc. Your boss Waka changes personality in every world, which is a neat little touch. Most of the main cast’s personalities stay the same throughout the worlds, even if your relationships with them are a little different from world to world.

In Shin’s world you don’t know Kent and Ikki until your accident, but in Kent’s world you were friends with Ikki (through another friend) and met Kent through that. In Ikki’s world you’re coworkers with Ikki, but you don’t work together in any of the other worlds (except maybe the Joker’s world, I don’t remember off the top of my head.)

The little changes make big differences and make it a lot easier to basically replay the same 28-ish days over and over again. Not to mention Orion’s commentary is Hilarious – I’ve mentioned it in the Spoiler-free review, but Orion’s easily my favorite character. If he was an option to choose from (not necessarily a romance option, but like a best friends deal) I don’t think you could convince me choose any of the other guys. xD

Now for some big spoilers:
Orion’s boss is fulfilling a wish from the Joker world guy. Orion doesn’t KNOW that though, but the whole reason he crashed into you was because someone made it happen. Your True World is the Joker world – but at the same time I think your experiences in the other worlds set things right in those worlds before you finally get to set your own world “right”.

And Right is kind of a loose term here. Each of the worlds have a solid happy ending state, even the Joker world, but well… It doesn’t really break anything by saying as much, your happy ending for the Joker world wasn’t EVER meant to be. You’re basically giving Fate the biggest finger by the end of this game. But that revelation – everything pulling together from all the other worlds to the game’s true conclusion is done Really Well. Kudos to whoever thought up this mind fuck of a game, because it’s really insidious the second time through.

Closing Shop:
A Solid  7 – I think I’d rate this game higher if the other parts of it were out in the States. Amnesia Crowd and Amnesia Later will give you what this game leaves you craving – which is a Lot More Story. Amnesia: Memories paints a beautiful world, lays down an Amazing foundation, and fills it with beautiful art. Just as you start writing reams of fan fiction in your mind it’s wrapping up – then you learn there’s more out there.

The stories wrap up decently enough, but even with fairly definitive endings this left me wanting more – even concerning Toma. Or I should say Especially concerning Toma. He’d be licking my boots and bringing me tea for YEARS if I had my way.

Totally personal Pros and Cons:
Cons: It’s a rocky road. There’s a lot of uncomfortable bits – though most are tied closely to the story itself. There’s a reason for some of the squick and I’m okay with that. While Toma goes down a road I feel like requires a hard hat and an emergency escape plan, there’s still a why behind it all. Angst for angst’s sake without a reason behind it is lazy, so I’ll give credit where it’s due. That aside – I needed MORE.

Pros: I’m learning Japanese.

 

Okay, kidding aside – it’s wonderfully written. I can’t say how accurate the translation is, but the localization was done very well. I laughed, I gasped, I cried in a couple places. It reaches out and holds onto you. Not only were the personalities well-done, but their motivations were also fleshed out. There’s nothing hollow about any of the “whys” behind what they do or how they react.

Amnesia: Memories (Spoiler-Free)

Amnesia: Memories is 2nd or 3rd Otome I ever played – and the first one I played on Steam. (Which opened some impressive floodgates, Thanks Steam!). I don’t generally like Modern Setting games as a rule – but I really liked the intro video on Steam and the art was solid, so I figured I’d give it a try.

This was the first title I came across where there wasn’t really a “Common” route to speak of, and that the story stepped from one story to the next, building on each. I highly recommend playing this game in order (Heart, Spade, Club, Diamond, [Unlocked after you clear the other four] ).

Tipping the Scales:
On a scale of 1 to 10 I give Amnesia: Memories a 7. It’s a solid game – lots of CGs, plenty of options – Orion is HILARIOUS, and I love him. Out of 5 routes though, only 3 are “safe” and 2 are unsettling.

TL;DR:
There’s a robot that follows you around in the last two routes and just flashes red going “Danger! Danger!” I kid – there’s no robot, but if you’re willing to forgive the unsettling nature of the last two routes it is a Good Game.

(A solid walk-through for this game can be found Here )

The Short of It:
As the name suggests you remember nothing. The intro gives you an interesting reason behind WHY you don’t remember anything, and it also hints at the reason behind why you really do need to play all the world to get the “True” story. Basically Orion doesn’t know where you actually belong, and you don’t remember. All the yous are you, so you’re not intruding on someone else’s life regardless of which world you choose.

The only things you really remember are basic social, language, and functional skills. You don’t remember Anyone at all, and can’t even recall your job, study major, place of residence, etc. Fortunately, in most of the worlds, you got good people looking out for you.

The LONG of It:
The long of it is this is kind of a short game. There’s plenty to do, and a LOT of story, but comparatively it’s one of the shorter titles I’ve played through. I found that playing through the story lines a second time actually brought a lot of small details to the forefront and helped me enjoy the characters more.

Even Toma.

If not for Toma and the locked Route I’d honestly give this an 8 or 9. But in both cases I’m not convinced that the actions had proper motivations behind them. I was left with a feeling that things were done more for shock than for legitimate reasoning. I would’ve been more okay with Toma if there was some explanation about his twisted nature – and if the ending had included him getting counseling. But that might be my age showing more than anything else.

19 year old me would’ve put up with Toma’s shit – 36 year old me might have actually shot him in the foot and gone to the police by the 3rd day. So considering the protagonist is canonically 19-21 in this game I suppose her reaction toward him makes more sense. I just would’ve preferred more meat to his story/reasons.

The hidden route was worth it if only how it managed to bring the Entire Game together story-wise. It answered pretty much everything, and while it was like walking a tightrope to get from one end of the route to the other, it was well-done. That said, standing up to that different kind of madness and the violence could be an issue for some people. So tread carefully. If you don’t do the last two routes I think you can walk away from the game having enjoyed a good few stories.

Something to brace for – but is that really neat – is the relationships between the main cast are different in every world. Some bits stay relatively similar. Kent and Ikki are always buddies, Toma and Shin are mixed up in some way, but how they all relate to the Protagonist shifts. Shin might be a childhood friend in one, and Toma’s brother in another – that sort of thing.

A good job was done in all cases, and the story is easy to follow. I might continually rag on Toma and RAGE about the final route, but I go back and let this play on auto from time to time because it is a good story and it’s neat to watch it almost like an anime. (I only really need a guide for Kent’s route, there’s a Bleeping-QUIZ at one point.)

Content Warnings:
The protagonist is a bit air-headed and walks into danger easily – but when you can’t remember a bloody thing this makes sense.
Shin can be a bit pushy, Ikki’s a player until you get the truth of his situation, Kent’s just adorable, if not blunt AF.

The real content warnings come with Toma, and the unlocked route. Toma makes a lot of REALLY disconcerting decisions – which are exacerbated by your predicament because you’ve no idea why certain things are happening. It is dark and angsty and Toma probably needs professional help for some of his demons – while I got my own kind of enjoyment out of it – without spoiling anything I don’t recommend it if you have a hard time with what’s basically an abusive relationship.

The unlocked route is just violence and death and Literal. Insanity. And I am SO MAD that this dude’s !@$^ing WISH puts you through some serious stuff. I wanted to punch him by the end of it.

Totally personal Pros and Cons:
Cons: Toma’s route makes me uncomfortable. I really have to be in a mood to sink into that level of darkness, and I was not when I played it. The localization could’ve been a bit better too. There’s a few instances where my choices didn’t really seem to match the conversation at the time.

Pros: Orion. Is. Too. Awesome. His commentary during the story lines made me laugh out loud legitimately on several occasions. Ikki surprised me as a much deeper character than I was expecting. Kent ending up being so adorable I just wanted to hug him. And Shin ended up with a place in my heart I hadn’t been expecting. I didn’t like him much at first, but the more I revisited the game the more I picked up on the subtle things that just make him spiffy.

 

Hakuoki: DotFB (Spoiler-Filled)

Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom: Spoiler-Filled-Review!

SPOILERS

You’ve been warned.

Don’t cry to me if you read this.

I’m not going to give a detailed play by play, but I’ll probably get close. I’ll try to avoid HUGE FEELS-FILLED moments, but you might be able to see them coming a mile away if you read this prior to playing the game.

I’m not heartless though, so the first section after this warning will be Short Summaries – What’s the guy’s personality like, Voice Actor, Big Triggery Things (if any), etc.

The section after the Short Summaries will be much more in-depth.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Short Version
:
Premise: You’re a 16-year-old girl in 1864 – 4 years before Japan enters the Meiji Period – in Edo. Your father is a Doctor trained in Western Medicine and he has left for Kyoto. You haven’t heard from him in ages and decide to head to Kyoto to look for him. The streets are dangerous, especially for a lone traveler so you dress as a young boy and head out. Shortly after arriving in Kyoto you end up mixed up with the Shinsengumi – The Wolves of Mibu.

The Cast:
Toshizo Hijikata – The Demon of the Shinsengumi – figuratively speaking. Hijikata is passionately loyal, but that loyalty is hard-earned. Intimidating, unrelenting – and yet kind. Hijikata isn’t unreasonable, but he’s got an entire group of sword wielding men from a myriad of backgrounds to keep in line and no time to muck about.

Souji Okita – The Shinsengumi’ s Sword – Okita is fiercely loyal much like Hijikata, but his loyalty is focused on Kondou Isami, the leader of the Shinsengumi. Any similarities to Hijikata end there, and swiftly. Okita is an instigator. A teaser. A little shit, if truth be told. He utterly enjoys making the protagonist uncomfortable. He is very much the school yard boy who picks on you because he likes you and doesn’t understand there’s better ways to go about getting your attention.

Hajime Saito – The Quiet One. The REALLY quiet one. Saito is loyal to the Shinsengumi, but he’s more loyal to his own ideals – it just so happens the two align very well. His emotions are subtle, and there’s an odd amount of joy in pulling them to fore throughout the course of the story. Saito was my favorite from the rip, and the quiet passion is still a story I enjoy returning to.

Heisuke Toudou – Closest to the protagonist in age Heisuke is everything you’d expect a young man to be. He’s brash, loud, and constantly in trouble – and he’s not really sure what his values are. He’s still figuring himself out, but I have to give him credit that he does with courage and conviction. When he does figure out what’s most important to you it’s one of those moments that just kind fill your heart.

Sanosuke Harada – There’s a reason the achievement for completing Harada’s story line is called Little Red Corvette. Harada is smooth AF. With one of the shorter story lines over all it’s certainly one of the more passionate. Frustrated by Hijikata and Saito keeping things tightly under wraps and leaving you to wonder if you’re on the right path? This is a good break from that.

Chikage Kazama – You have to complete two other routes before you can end up on Kazama’s path. The Demon of the West, head of his clan, he goes for what he wants and isn’t easily deterred. In two routes it requires death to get him to leave you be, two other routes require intervention from outside forces before he’s deterred. I’ll give him – and the writers – credit though, while he’s relentless there’s never a sense that he’d force himself on you. He might steal you away to a demon village, but I think if you continually denied him he’d eventually relent.

He just wouldn’t be sure when too much was too much because he’s not been denied anything from what I can tell.

Long Haul Review:
Hakuoki does a wonderful job – in all its versions – of blending historical accuracy with a fantastical story. It’s written in a way that doesn’t dislodge the truth of certain events and lets you enjoy the entire ride. I wasn’t even a Shinsengumi fan until playing this game, and then I start lining up dates and events and was startled at the accuracy that was left in place.

And the Supporting Cast is Massive. It’s just so easy to sink into the world itself – Even with the occult bits scattered all over the place.

When you begin the game you find yourself running from Ronin who want your shiny family heirloom sword. They are summarily murdered into tiny bloody bits by nameless Shinsengumi warriors with white hair, red eyes, and a heavy air of madness about them. They scream for blood and you can see your demise written in their faces –

Until a couple Captains show up and save you from this fate. Though save is a loose term, as you’ve seen quite a bit you shouldn’t have and find yourself being forcefully lead back to their base. Here you get a Long, but important, introduction to the main cast – and if you’re bad with names like I am I recommend taking notes. It’s pretty impossible to make a wrong choice in the first couple of chapters – in that nothing will get you killed outright – but it’s important to pick a path and stick to it.

Very quickly you realize that your Father is the cause behind the mad men who nearly killed you – Furies, as they’re referred to, are made by consuming the Water of Life. Poorly named in my opinion, but ironically so. He had been working for the Shinsengumi/Shogun on this and then up and disappeared. When they learn you’re his daughter they realize you have value to them. Now you have a place to stay, and they have a solid way of trying to locate your Father.

Now for some big spoilers:
You, my dear, are a demon. The only surviving female child from the “royal” family of the East. A rare pure-blooded demon in a world where female demons of any variety are rare. This is a large part of why Kazama pursues you so relentlessly – you may have caught his eye, but his duty to his family compels him to find a good mate. There’s a distinct impression though, that even if you reject him, he’d still be compelled to protect you – him and every other demon-born-and-raised-male-demon in the vicinity. Female demons are just that rare.

And here’s you – shacked up with literally some of the most dangerous people in the entire country. Granted, they want to protect you too – some out of honor, some out of love, some out of duty, but all the same Demons are far more powerful than humans. Hence Kazama’s repeated attempts to get you away to safety.

Closing Shop:
There’s plenty of levity scattered around in the story, and a healthy dose of blood, guts and dead bodies too. No one comes out and says it in this version of the game, but the Furies are born of vampires – it was actually nice to hear it put to words in the tail end of Edo game that came out recently. It was a tiny validating moment, but it’s pretty obvious.

Oh and if you can, I really do recommend the PS3 version of this title. The extras on that platform are pretty robust and all the extra bits are just delightful.

Totally personal Pros and Cons:
Cons: It’s on a bazillion platforms, and almost all of them have a different set of extras and goodies. There’s also two different animes – a series of episodes, and then two movies. I haven’t seen the movies yet – I bought them but I haven’t had time to watch them. The subbed versions use the game’s original cast, so I recommend reading the movie if you can stand it.

Plus, for someone who heals lightning fast the Protagonist spends an awful lot of time Not Using Her Sword. There are so many overprotective people in her life though, it makes sense.

Pros: It’s beautiful. It really is – from the art, to the subtle but important music, to the passion in the voice acting, to the complexity of the game itself. It’s just gorgeous. Controls are easy – depending on what platform you use you have a lot of saves to play with too. Also worth keeping in mind that FOUR YEARS pass during the course of this game, so you start as a 16-year-old girl and end at 20.

Review: Hakuoki: DotFB (Spoiler Free)

Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom was the first Otome VN I ever played. Honestly, it was the first VN I ever played, and I got into it in 2017. I have not been a part of this fandom long, and it seems I’ve stepped into it as it was finally beginning to pick up steam State-side.

I played it to completion on my phone. Learned there were exclusive extras for the DS version, bought it for that. Learned there were DIFFERENT extras for the PS3 version And. Bought. That. Plus two art books.

Without meaning too my friend had unleased a demon within me, and while this isn’t the first review I’ve written for this site – everything that this site is, and will become, is because of this “little” game.

Tipping the Scales:
On a scale of 1 to 10 I give Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom a 10 – (I kind of have to, as I literally did everything I’ve listed a 10 deserves.).
If you don’t change the protagonist’s name the voice acting won’t say it anyway, so have at ^_^

TL;DR:
This game is bloody and filled with Samurai and demons.

(Spoiler Free walkthrough Can be found Here It’ll leave you one CG short with Hijikata – if you can’t figure out how to get it just leave a comment and I’ll help you ^_^)

The Short of It:
The setting of the game is just prior to the start of the Meiji Era in Japan – swords were losing to guns, and the whole country was changing. The Shinsengumi stood to their last in the bloody battles leading up to the new era – so while it is a FANTASTICALLY well done story, it is Violent AF.

This original version of the game has 5 main choices and 1 “hidden” choice. Though, at this point in time it’s probably not much of a hidden choice anymore, but I’ll save that for the Spoiler version of the review.

The game forces you to pay attention – it was my first Otome so this might be part and parcel for most of you – but I really had to keep track of who was injured (so they weren’t going to the next big battle), who was being sent where, etc. You really don’t want to miss those affection moments for this game, it’s a tight rope to walk to the Good Ending.

The voice acting is solid. Okita’s Voice Actor was so good I have actively searched out more stuff with him in it – VN, or anime. I wasn’t even remotely interested in Okita until that actor brought him to life so well. (Toshi’s VN did a wonderful job too – and so did… well, okay, All of the Them were just perfect ^_^ )

The LONG of It:
If you play this game in opposite order I think it works almost better than the proper order. But I’m bad with names, so it would’ve making keep track of places and incidents a lot easier if I’d gone from shortest route to longest.
Which, considering you have to complete 2 routes to unlock the hidden one it would be:
Harada, Heisuke, Saito, Okita, Hijikata.

It just – to me – really helps the story AND the world unfold. If you’re familiar with the Shinsengumi already then by all means play in whatever order you want. Being familiar with the key players will make it a lot easier to keep track of everything that happens – but the extent of my knowledge PRIOR to this game came from Rurouni Kenshin, so…

Knowing this game so well it’s difficult to give a Spoiler Free review.

The Common Route is only the first 4 chapters. The start of Chapter 5 basically has you locked into whoever’s story you’re going to follow. So if you were going for one and you’re talking merrily to someone else in Chapter 5, you need to go back and figure out which pieces you missed.

There are a TON of choices in this game as well. You’re not just choosing what to say to who, but deciding what you’re interested in will send you do different variants in the Common Route. Fleeting Blossoms is a good place to start if you’re interested in Edo and Kyoto – the newest versions of the game with Double the options and double the choices as a result.

Content Warnings:
Blood everywhere – but there’s nothing squicky concerning the interactions with the Protagonist in this one. Not a warning so much, but there’s a TON of historical stuff, and some period-specific assumptions about gender for what it’s worth.

Totally personal Pros and Cons:
Cons: None. I thoroughly enjoyed this game. If I had to nitpick I wish the protagonist had been just a little more aggressive. She talks about being able to use her sword, but never steps up.

Pros: Your route choices are so varied and well-developed. Who I consider my favorite literally depends on my mood for the day, and even in playthroughs there are parts I’ll stop at and read slowly just because I enjoy the lines/situation/mood.

Reviews: Spoiler FILLED

Reviews are listed alphabetically with the numerical Rating at the Beginning of the title.

All links go to the Spoiler FILLED review of the game. SPOILER. FILLED.

I don’t want to hear any lip if you click the wrong link.

7 – Bad Apple Wars (Vita)
7 – Amnesia: Memories (Vita/Steam)
Code: Realize Guardians of Rebirth (Vita/PS4)
Code: Realize Future Blessings (Vita/PS4)
Collar X Malice (Vita)
10 – Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (DS/PS3/Vita/Phone)
Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms (Vita/Steam)
Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds (Vita/Steam)
Nightshade (Steam)
Norn9: VC (Vita)
OZMAFIA (Steam)
Period Cube (Vita)

Reviews: Spoiler Free

Reviews are listed alphabetically with the numerical Rating at the Beginning of the title.

All links go to the Spoiler Free review of the game. (I obsessively check and re-check all links to avoid any accidents!)

7 – Bad Apple Wars (Vita)
7 – Amnesia: Memories (Vita/Steam)
Code: Realize Guardians of Rebirth (Vita/PS4)
Code: Realize Future Blessings (Vita/PS4)
Collar X Malice (Vita)
10 – Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (DS/PS3/Vita/Phone)
Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms (Vita/Steam)
Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds (Vita/Steam)
Nightshade (Steam)
Norn9: VC (Vita)
OZMAFIA (Steam)
Period Cube (Vita)

Review: Bad Apple Wars (Contains Spoilers)

Bad Apple Wars: Spoiler-Filled-Review!

SPOILERS

You’ve been warned.

Don’t cry to me if you read this.

I’m not going to give a detailed play by play, but I’ll probably get close. I’ll try to avoid HUGE FEELS-FILLED moments, but you might be able to see them coming a mile away if you read this prior to playing the game.

I’m not heartless though, so the first section after this warning will be Short Summaries – What’s the guy’s personality like, Voice Actor, Big Triggery Things (if any), etc.

The section after the Short Summaries will be much more in-depth.

Let’s dive in, shall we?
Spoiler Free Guide
Short Version
:
Premise:
You’re dead and have gone to a school in the afterlife meant to scrub away your personality and prepare you for reincarnation. The Good Apples obediently follow the 108 rules (Reminds me of the 108 Stars of Destiny from the 14th century Chinese classical novel Shui Hu Zhuan – which I only know about because of Suikoden an older Playstation RPG) of the school, become “clean slates” and graduate into the next life. The Bad Apples break the rules, and as such never forget who they were. They rage against the machine of the school grounds and are trying to break the Unbreakable Rules in order to get Expelled. (The assumption being expulsion will let them go back to their original lives and try again.)

The Cast:
The Bad Apples:
Alma – The Quiet One. If Almost can convey a feeling or desire with a grunt, or single syllable, he’ll do just that. Understanding, patient, but everyone who’s at the school with you is dead, and Alma came here by his own hand. He doesn’t crack under a little pressure, but apply too much and he shatters. His weapon is a Red String that can also turn into a knife. (The Red String is a popular folk tale in Japan, I recommend googling it if you’re not familiar with it).

Kiga – Baka, Baka, Baka! Kiga’s far from quiet – he looks up to Alma and while not overtly respectful of others he still respects them. Gruff, quick to get irritated, he’s not patient, but he’s not mean either. His weapon is a baseball that explodes when he wants it to.

Shikishima – Mysterious, aloof, masked – Shikishima is an artist in a world that won’t let him paint with colors. He’s got an almost constant smile plastered on his face, but it’s so painfully shallow. Brush and book as his “weapons” though nothing he draws can hurt or detain anyone.

The Good Apples:
Satoru – Nose in a book studying. Literally. There’s no symbolism going on here, Satoru suffers punishment for rule-breaking and misunderstanding by the rest of the school because he won’t stop studying. The story behind it made me breath catch in my throat when it unfolded. He’s the only option younger than the protagonist (by a year-ish). They arrive together – which given their respective incidents were unrelated is pretty impressive.

White Mask – Here there be dragons. One of the game’s NPCs makes a remark that White Mask is an Edge Lord, and I don’t think truer words were spoken. This guy’s angst has angst. I appreciated the game for providing an acceptable reason behind all of it, but it is layered on thicker than stage makeup. It’s suggested he arrived at the school in the same manner as Alma, but to my knowledge the game doesn’t verify this.

Long Haul Review:
The only real choice this game gives you is deciding between the Good Apple Path and the Bad Apple path. The rest of your “choices” throughout the game come in two varieties: Either choosing who you’re going to go find when you’ve got down time (they’re color coded so it’s super easy), or Touch Mode.

Touch mode activates on most CGs that only include the protagonist and the current pursued guy. The first few are pretty straight forward, and there’s some clues in the story regarding where to avoid – but a guide doesn’t hurt. Just save when the CGs pop up though, and you can retry any scene to avoid “lightning”. Lightning when touching is how you get NEVAEH endings, and you don’t want those.

Well, if you’re looking for a Platinum trophy you do, but you get my drift.

The Good endings for this game will run the risk of tearing your heart out. The NEVAEH endings made me ugly cry on a couple occasions.

Now for some big spoilers:

Alma’s from about 10 years before the protagonist.
Kiga’s from about enough years before the protagonist to have been her dad.
Satoru’s from the same age – as stated before he’s at most a year younger.
White Mask is about the same age as the protagonist, maybe a year or two older.
Shikishima is from the beginning of the 1900s – prior to a cure for tuberculosis.

Some of you are probably putting two and two together at this point. Time’s some wibbly wobbly stuff in this game – aside from Satoru everyone’s been at the school for YEARS before the Protagonist shows up. As I can figure they arrived in roughly this order:

Alma, Kiga, Shikishima/White Mask, (substantial gap), Satoru/Protagonist.

The Protagonist is just starting High School when the game starts. It hits me how – after realizing I really like the character – Kiga’ll be like 30 years older than her if they both manage to get expelled. And Shikishima will be Long Dead.

The Good endings for these guys handle it well, I’ll admit. Still a little (lot) bittersweet, but still sweet. I’m not spoiling what happens, but if you like The Feels – you gonna FEEL them.

Especially with the soundtrack this game has going for it. Play it with headphones on, these tracks are worth the attention to detail. Half my crying was probably due to the well-paired music. Even the creepy parts were creepier thanks to the soundtrack for this. If I have one complaint about the soundtrack it’s that the most heart wrenching piece is NOT included on the internal soundtrack.

Still, it’s a song that happens in Every Route – so you can save at the start of it and re-listen whenever you want.

Closing Shop:
Overall I really enjoyed this game. I went in thinking I would struggle through it, so to be fair I was in the negative diving in. I’m not leaving you with the same starting point. I’d apologize, but I don’t think it’s a concern – if you like a lot of choices you’re not really going to jive with this game. If you love story over choices then this is your jam. Buckle up, because it’ll take you on a Ride.

Totally personal Pros and Cons:
Cons: Modern setting. Very stylized Art. Not a lot of variety in sprites. Weird AF at times. Semi-Con the romance is Very Light – It works for the story, so I didn’t legit mind it. I don’t usually go for heavy romance, but this was just a step more reserved than I like. Just barely missed that sweet spot.

Pros: Lots of CGs. Great personalities in the cast – nothing was spared even with the non-romantic characters. Ripped my heart out with Feels. Variants between the stories gave a lot of details into all parts of the total cast – non-romance options included.

Augh! – WHY COULDN’T THEY HAVE MADE NARAKA AN OPTION!? He was So Awesome!

Voice Actors: Behind the Voice Actors.