It’s been quite a while since I last posted in this blog, a bit more than half a year in fact. It’s not like I was so busy that I couldn’t find time to write blogs about ACG related contents, but rather that I couldn’t think of anything of importance to write about, so I spent my time elsewhere on the site with respect to ACG (anime, comics, and games) related stuff, ie. myanimelist, etc.
I have invested a lot of time in ACG related stuff since advent of high school (and even before that), and have dabbled in manga, anime, and light novels extensively. Anime and manga are definitely the more common mediums, while light novels tend to be a niche interest among ACG lovers. What’s an even more niche interest in English-speaking community is visual novels, and most people probably don’t know much about it. NSFW, 18+, dating sims, or anything of that ilk come to mind when one thinks of visual novels, or galgame. I more or less held that opinion until a few days ago, when I tried my first visual novel because I realized that a lot of great VN with great stories are never adapted into anime, manga, or light novel.
So, what exactly is a visual novel, let me tell you about my experience so far.
The easiest way to imagine VN is try thinking of a hybrid between an anime and a novel. It is not an” anime in that the scenes aren’t animated. The narratives rely on prose to convey the plot to the readers. While facial expressions change from time to time, the art in VN is more like illustrations to a novel rather than an animated sequence. It does come with BGM and character voice, though. It is not exactly a novel either, in that 1) players have some power to influence what happens in the story (game-like”), and 2) there is way too much conversations for it to cut strictly as a novel.
I’ve heard that visual novel is extremely versatile in its mechanism. Contrary to my previous belief, each character route (heroines that you choose depending on your choices during the game) usually do not spoil other routes. Basically, you can finish routes in any order and still find something new each time without repeating or being spoiled from previous results (at least in this case). It’s kind of interesting because it allows for a story with many conclusions instead of just one, and players are more likely to find a satisfying ending among those.
Anyways, my first experience with VN is rather great. I holed up in my dorm (well I did go to classes) for a week and completed my first VN, without any regret in the end.
REVIEW of G-senjou no Maou (no spoilers)
Obligatory Warning: This game contains 18+ NSFW contents, though nothing offensive.
available for free download in English translation at http://fuwanovel.org/novels/g-senjou-no-maou (with programs like bitcomet or bittorrent ofc)
Obviously, this is my first VN review, so please bear with my lack of comparison to other works.
Strangely enough, G-senjou is in certain aspects eerily similar to Code Geass, beside the fact that the main antagonist’s voice actor is Furukawa Jun, the VC for Lelouch in Code Geass. How so? The whole story is a strange combination of school life, suspense, battles of wit, people trying to lie and cheat each other, and characters that can not be clearly defined as just “good” or “evil”. There is one clear distinction though. As a galgame, G-senjou places much more focus on the romance aspect, and by romance I don’t just mean the H-scenes. In fact, without spoiling the story, I’d claim that G-senjou is a pure love story more than anything else.
To be honest, looking at the story as a whole, while it is very entertaining, there are also a lot of places that could have done better. This game have 4 heroine routes in total, and these routes can be reached by choosing its corresponding choice in chapter 2, 3, and 4. In chapter 2, 3, and 4, you either go into an alternate heroine route, or progress through with the story toward the true end (chapter 5). Outcomes vary differently in true end and other heroines’ good end. Different things happen in different routes.
Beside from the fact that the game could be slightly boring in certain scenes, I found that there are two major weaknesses in terms of plot. One, the creators all but sacrificed all other routes for the dramatic showdown in the true conclusion. It’s not that the other routes weren’t emotional or dramatic (in fact, chapter 2’s good end had me crying), but rather that it has little to do with the central mystery of the story, in which the male lead rests in the center of the conflict, mainly because the true end could do without the stories of the three other heroines and still be brilliant. Two, the series of code geass-ish battle of wits in this game can bring players out of focus at certain points, simply because each incident is quite dragged out and certain developments may seem a bit forced. To be fair, though, everything is revealed in the end, providing a satisfactory resolution to loose threads or what previously seemed like bad writing.
Still, I can’t emphasize enough, the true ending is amazing; melodramatic, bitter-sweet, plenty of adrenaline, while still giving players one of the most epic endings ever.
The biggest accomplishment in the character department is how great they are portrayed. None is portrayed in black and white lens. All characters have bad and redeeming points to them, right down to the protagonist’s sidekick. Villains aren’t always villainous, and good people don’t necessarily always remain pure. The first and second route are great in terms of exploring the heroine’s characters and showing their realistic development. The same thing can’t be said for the third route, a route that may get you wondering why the heroine likes the protagonist in the first place. The fourth and true route is the best, as it is the “intended” story from prior development. Main characters in this route undergoes a metamorphosis, releasing all the previously pent up emotions and reaching into a beautiful catharsis.
Music, Visuals, Language: 8.5/10
I rather liked the art in this game, perhaps the style just click with me.
The most memorable song by far is “Close Your Eyes”, inserted toward the end of the game. It’s nothing short of glorious. BGM and sound effect throughout the VN seemed appropriate as well.
I read the fuwanovel’s English translation. For the most part it is very smooth and readable. Don’t expect any fancy language, though.
In conclusion, I think G-senjou is at least worth 8.5/10. I read played this game because it was strongly recommended in various best VN recommendation blogs. I have to say that I am not disappointed, and will definitely probably pick up more VN
in the future immediately afterward.