Friday, 12 August 2011

Don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story

Your name is John Rook. You have purple hair, and you're taking over a class for a year until their teacher comes back. Understood? Right, let's begin...
First off, this is a visual novel (in English) with anime graphics, and lots of talking, needless to say. If you don't like the sort of game that doesn't last for 5 hours+, and you don't like following the plot as it gets more intense, this game won't be for you. But, if you do want an experience (a short experience, but a well-put together one nonetheless) that you'll enjoy and remember for at least a week (honest!) then you should probably get this.
It's a FREE GAME. Yes, that's right, you don't have to pay, so download it here:
Now! This story is set in 2020 (if I can remember correctly) and so, the story involves technology, and made me realize even more that we get so distracted by technology instead of speaking to people in real life. In a Persona-esque way, you speak with classmates (or listen in on conversations), and their avatar is drawn clearly, as opposed to a 2D/3D character you find in most games. I didn't explain that very well, so take a look at the screenshot to the left. 
As you're talking/listening to people talk...see that chat bubble on the top right, and the mail icon? The chat bubble is entry to a Facebook clone where your classmates are constantly talking to eachother, about their worries, personal life and plans. Seeing as you're a teacher, you're allowed to read each and every private inbox and everything on their public wall, too. While you're teaching your class (John basically does this by himself, you don't have to set up a curriculum, which is obvious), the notification noises are constantly ringing as you're trying to get through a lesson, and if you read the messages you can see classmates going on about how boring your lesson is. Easy to catch them out with a question, then...
Keeping your thoughts to strictly teacher-only is difficult; as John is telling the story about his year at their school (not even sure what the school is called!) you can't help but feel like you are John, and you're there, right there, talking to everyone, joining in with the joy of their school, and their projects. Talking about teacher-only, there is a situation where you really must think professionally, and it's fun to feel like the superior adult in different ways, and try to set an example for the students, even though you know it's not real. It's a really immersive plot, and it made me smile, listening to the conversations of those you've gave advice to and see them become happy after the choices they've made (all because of your help).
It's difficult to write a review of this without giving anything away (seeing as it's all plot that makes the game good) and so I'll end it off here.
All in all I think it's a great little visual novel that'll take you an hour or more to complete, with some interesting characters, interesting twists in the plot and an interesting visual style, I'd give this a try if you're craving an anime fix or are just bored on a cold, rainy day--this is one to curl up in bed with, with a warm drink to keep you going--it really is a warm experience.
Audio: 8   Obviously the music isn't as good as something like Cave Story, but it's still a nice touch, and is Persona-esque, too.
Gameplay: 7   As much as I liked this game, it's not really one that has exciting gameplay. It's not something that's bad about the game, but the genre is renowned for being just point&click, occasional choices in where the plot leads, and that's all. Still good, though.
Graphics:  8  My favourite (or at least, second favourite) part of the visual novel; the graphics are really nice, and when you see landscapes they look lovely; camera flares, warm, pastel colours, or vibrant anime characters, it's all pretty.
Plot:  9  Definitely the best thing about this (and I should think so too, it being a visual novel and all), the plot is interesting and keeps you completely glued to the screen, anticipation lurking as the in-game day draws to a close, waiting for the next part of the plot to open up. All the plots are intertwined, too, so it doesn't get boring.
Overall score:  8/10   A fun game that'll pass the time, with a plot some people may relate to. I think you should try it--what's there to lose?