Visual Novels - because insomnia builds character.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Letter

We're halfway there! al|together 2008 round 3/6!
Sometimes you stumble upon a game that from the start strives to be more than a diversion, a way to spend an evening. This is one of those titles. A story about family, memories and all that lies ahead.

Graphics - Nothing special here. The backgrounds are all stock photograhs with filters and there is no character art. The art for the extras screens (not the menu) is nice but that doesn't count for much. 7/10
Music/SFX - The music is stock but it was chosen well with one glaring exception. The song "Boss Battle 03" (as the name might suggest) is much to action themed to fit the story. The intent is there but its too much (that scene as a whole I felt was somewhat unnecessary). My first thought is "where did I hear this before?" I'm still not sure where, but some variant of the underlying beat was used in another game (possibly the Boss Battle 01 or 02 tracks?). This is one danger of stock music as this track is awkward at best and distracting at worst. The other songs fit very well, I particularly enjoyed "Wherever She Goes" and "My Dear" as they fit the introspective mood quite well. Transitions were sometimes abrupt though not unreasonably, and sound effects were properly implemented. The rain in particular stood out as there was both an outside and an inside version. 7.5/10

Story - The story develops slowly and the writing is almost poetic. While we are not given great amounts of background information, the interaction with Takahiro's family is easy to follow but not diluted. The writing is very delicate and authentic, I frequently found myself drawing connections to my own family life. My only significant complaint is the scene where "Boss Battle 03" plays, it felt unnecessary and over dramatic as the result of his "struggle" was likely already known to the reader. 9.5/10

System - This is an ONScripter release for Windows and Mac OS X. As usual no errors or problems; the author's note suggest that he chose this platform (Nscripter) due to complaints about the original release. The extras included are a jukebox mode and the aforementioned author's note. Obviously, a gallery is not needed as only backgrounds are used. 5/5

Overall - A touching story with a good score. Al|togther titles often show that games can be much more than fantastical diversions and this title is an excellent representive of the depth in storytelling that can be achieved.

Score - 29/35 - 83% - Good

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