Visual Novels - because insomnia builds character.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Blogginess - Merry Christmas from Sleepless Nights!

Merry Christmas from us both! (Drawing by Jon :3)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Like phoenix, the final review is here! al|together 2008 round 6/6!
A piece similar in style to Yume Miru Kusuri ( review 1, 2) and certainly a shining star among free visual novels. Also notable as the first 18+ al|together release.

Graphics - The graphics are impressive for a free game. Quite a few event CGs are used, both H and not. The character art is consistent and detailed. The backgrounds hint at the games free status as they are stock photographs with a cutout-style filter. This filter works quite well with the drawn backgrounds used for event CG. Most of the CG are well framed, except the H-CG but I think that of most eroge (the exceedingly common "invisible manhood" comes in to play here). The creators commentary says this is the artists first visual novel and is a quite impressive first try. Another common complaint of mine is not showing the protagonists eyes, again here they are not shown (but are referenced). While I understand the idea that it is to help the reader fill his footsteps, in a case like this where the character is developed as an atypical persona a face would be beneficial. These are minor qualms found in most of the genre and should not prevent one from trying this game. 9/10

Music/SFX - The music may be stock (nothing inherently wrong with this) but it fits the game quite well. Sound effects are fine and used when needed but the volume control button doesn't seem to do anything for me (could be a simple error in the download/extraction). I wouldn't consider this very detrimental as I have not tried to press it except for the sake of this review; the initial levels are balanced so I have only needed to adjust system volume (the buttons on the task tray/keyboard). While everything is well chosen there is nothing outstanding about the music, but nothing out of place either. 8/10

Story - The story is not for everyone due to adult content of every sense. Drugs, sex, violence; this game has it all. However, this is no grand theft auto, nothing is glorified. LEAVEs is gritty and true to life. I said earlier this game is similar to YMK but that is not entirely fair. Being a linear piece, LEAVEs defies any expectations one may have of a "dating simulation" (as this genre is often called). This is a romantic story, but it is most certainly NOT a date-sim. The story is quick-paced with many twists along the way; most of them are turns for the worst. For those who prefer to control-skip through H-scenes, please don't: the sexual content is crucial to the story. My only complaints would be that some parts were a bit difficult to follow and that the style used for the epilogue was very awkward and I feel a different method of emphasis would work better. However I do not know what effect the translator was trying to recreate as I have not played the original; as such I am unsure which side is to fault. 9/10

System/Extras - The system is ONScripter, with the usual Windows and Mac builds. Using a pre-existing Linux build may be tricky because the secondary-click menu is customized, but source code is available under the GPL from the Insani page listed above. A multitude of options are included in the secondary-click menu, the interface is very polished. Extras include a CG mode and creator commentary hidden in that mode (CGs : (row, colum) 3,4 1,2 and 2,4) I have had a few non-crucial bugs with the system, the volume control panel will not load and I froze the entire game once (both of these only happened during reviewing not during game play.) No jukebox mode is included (possibily because of music licensing restrictions but this is completely my own conjecture). 4/5

Overall - This is an outstanding work despite minor flaws. If you have time to invest, LEAVEs won't dissapoint.

Score - 30/35 - 86% - Good

Thank you for following my AT2008 updates! I have a couple commercial games to review before Extended Phase so please check back often!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blogginess - sorry this ones gonna be later than the rest

LEAVEs review en short :" its coming later but I reccomend you just go play it"

Kay, since my schedule for AT games is "get it out before the next game comes out" I'm not late >:D Until extended phase but I'll have it before then.

But yeah my piracy project is morphing in ways I don't understand so I am dead tired of multimedia right now. Somehow my innocently lazy idea to use Leopard's text2speech system to voice narration became a full out musical with all our favorite OS X voices. I'll be sure to post it when I'm done in my other blog. Even though I don't have to record any real sound, making those stupid voices sing evenly is harder than one thinks.

But May Sky is done at least and will be up any moment now on Oh and I have to study for a huge test this weekend XP

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

May Sky

Almost done! al|together 2008 round 5/6!
Originally released by chapter in Flash, this story is that of a young man and a teenage girl who, though not friends, develop trust in one another.

Graphics - The artwork is remarkably polished and lively. Many of the event CG are well framed and colored to the level of a professional work. The backgrounds are filtered photographs both stock and taken by the circle. For event CG the backgrounds are drawn but they stay consistent with the photographs. 9/10

Music/SFX - The music primarily piano and it is very pleasant. Since much of the story revolves around a piano player it is well fit and many tracks are used. Unfortunately neither it nor the sound effects match the text. We hear piano long before and long after the protagonist does. In the festival scene music is mentioned but we do not hear it at all. The sound effects are often short loops such as rain, the sounds of a festival, or a train but they are much to short and don't match the descriptions. One most noticeable part where the narrator states "I could hear nothing but the rain" we cannot even hear the rain... the loop was called to stop a couple lines before. These problems with loops and descriptions pull down the auditory aspect of the work 7/10

Story - The story is touching but it is exceedingly familiar. While May Sky has excellent characterization, the story is slow for the first several chapters. The side-story intermission was much more entertaining than the two chapters that came before it. Fortunately chapters 4 and 5 make up for the first two. Unfortunately the epilogue, chapter 6 is more repetitive than insightful. I suggest one plays this chapter by chapter over a long while rather than all at once because I quickly grew weary of their antics. 7/10

System - The system is the standard ONScripter with an adv style interface (see screen shots above). Their are no text speed adjustments sadly and the text was too slow for my liking. To compensate however Music and CG modes are included as well as an extra story. 5/5

Overall - A decent game but plagued by small discrepancies and slow pacing. Still, May Sky is a respectable work and a fun diversion.

Score - 28/35 - 80% - Good