Visual Novels - because insomnia builds character.

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!

1 comment:

Eggi said...

Nice review.. its always greatly appreciated to see people doing descriptive reviews of lesser known visual novels. Thankyou