I'm sick... sick in the head for buying this game. Anyways for once in a long time I'm reviewing something that's not homosexual, so prepare yourselves...
|Kawaii anime girls about to have a kawaii time|
Once upon a time there were four best friends who all grew up happily together. For whatever reason, one day they wake up inside a death game torture chamber and have 5 minutes until death. What could possibly happen within that 5 minutes?
Brought to you by Ryukishi07, aka the Higurashi and Umineko guy. And those other odd games like Iwaihime and Higanbana etc etc... you get the gist of it.
WARNING: This post includes caps of anime girls with unseemly facial expressions
Four girls who've known each other for like forever find themselves trapped in a small square dungeon, each with a metal collar on that's connected by a chain to a torture chair in each of the four corners of the room. In the middle of the room dangles a metal cage with a little boy inside with a dead fish expression. A mysterious voice tells them that it's time to go through a trial... one which will expose their true faces...
TL;DR You watch 4 girls yell at each other until they escape/get barbecued/die/wtvr in their 5 minute time limit. The game revolves around you viewing every single possible scenario from the torture chamber game until you run out and learn what the game is about.
How the torture chamber game works
Since the entire game revolves around this torture chamber game, I'll clarify it here to give a better idea of what you're in for.
|Passing out cards|
|Passing out cards for the nth time|
The 'trial' involves 4 roles which are divided amongst the 4 girls by way of 4 cards that the boy in the cage has on him for some reason. These roles are 2 Judgement cards, 1 Pierrot, and 1 Prisoner.
The prisoner immediately gets pulled by their chain into their respective torture chair in the room's corner, where the 2 Judges can then decide whether she is 'guilty' or 'innocent'. Whichever judge makes the decision, it becomes that only she can make the decisions on guilt, while the other judge receives the role of lifting the 'torture lever'. If judge 1 says 'innocent', then the prisoner and pierrot will switch roles, thus causing the pierrot to be pulled into her torture chair while the other is let free. If she says 'guilty', then the torture lever will unlock. Whichever judge says guilty/innocent first gets full reign on deciding which girl to have tortured basically. However at the end, it's only the 2nd judge who can pull the torture lever.
In order to escape the room, they must have the prisoner tortured. After pulling the torture lever, the chains for everyone except the prisoner will unlock, and the door to the elevator will open. Regardless of all this, in 5 minutes the barbecue beneath the grid floor will light up and kill everyone. The heat gets progressively hotter each minute, and once time runs out, basically a bunch of flamethrowers spew out and block the way to the elevator so they all die regardless of if they've managed to open it or not. That's the gist of it.
I don't remember anyone's last names but it doesn't really matter.
|Karin: I..., even though I love Fuuka so much... and was so kind to her... and thought of her as my best friend...|
Karin loves Kamen Kendo (basically kamen rider) more than anything, and loves to dish out sweet JUSTICE on school bullies and evil-doers. She doesn't have a lot going on upstairs, but her heart is in the right place at least. Having been raised in a family of boys, Karin feels self-conscious about her tomboyish nature. She loves her best friend Fuuka more than anything in the world, since Fuuka is the pretty girl that she aspires to become.
Fuuka is a fancy princess like girl from a well to do family. She's graceful, smart, elegant, and good at everything. Perfect, one could say. But she's just doing her best not to let down the expectations placed on her, it's not like she wants to be so perfect haha! Even if she can be a little devilish on the inside, Fuuka loves her best friend Doremi more than anything in the world, since Doremi is always there to hear all her troubles.
|Doremi: So it was something like that. Aah, stupid, that's seriously stupid|
Doremi is a quiet and strange girl who generally keeps to herself. But even if she's a girl of few words, she's perceptive and always there for her friends. Empathetic and thoughtful, she supports everyone without asking for anything in return. She's from a very poor family, but does her best regardless. Doremi loves her best friend Mina more than anything in the world, since Mina is always there for her in those moments when she's feeling down.
|Mina: Lies... that's a lie... it's a lie...|
Mina is a very child-like and silly girl who likes to talk in 3rd person. She's from a very rich family, but that comes at the cost of having strict parents that make her go to piano lessons and stuff like that. Dainty and cute, she's frequently targetted by her male peers to be teased. Luckily, Karin's always there to save the day! Mina loves her best friend Karin more than anything in the world, since Karin is the superhero to Mina's heroine.
It's a boy.
PLOT: F| The plot is....well... If you expect something deep and interesting for why they're in a torture chamber, please don't. If you just want to see the experience of being in a torture chamber, then sure go for it.
CHARACTERS: B-| To be honest, I actually like the four girls. I found them interesting, though with the material we're working with there wasn't a lot of room to flesh them out too ridiculously deeply with. I would have ranked higher if any of them were gay, but alas there's no gay implications in this story. The voice work however is VERY entertaining. I enjoy hearing seiyuus screaming nasty things at each other.
GENERAL WRITING: C| It's a little repetitive. The game jumps a lot between the torture dungeon segments and flashbacks giving tidbits about the four girls. You're supposed to piece things together as you watch their drama go on and on but yeah it gets a little old. Also the general payoff for going through all this is...not great. Reveals and big moments mostly fall flat, though this is just in my personal opinon.
ART: B| I am a fan of Hinoue Itaru's work. What can I say... the big bug-eyed anime girls are cute. I found their gero faces really funny, and the very few CGs were nice. But yes, there were very few CGs. Most scenes rely on narrative and use the same stills over and over and over again, so yeah it get's a little old! I do find the designs for the main cast quite nice though, and I enjoyed looking at them.
MUSIC: B-| Coming from the sound team behind Umineko, I expected better. Though to be fair, the game does only have like 10 tracks and repeats them over and over and over again. The few tracks are nice, though you do mentally think "wow I sure have heard this 300 times" whenever a track starts playing. There's even a popup in the corner telling you the name of the track so that you can know which one it is, even though you really don't need it since it's the same 2 tracks.
OVERALL SATISFACTION: C-| I don't regret reading through the game. It was an experience, I suppose. Some parts were really fun to read, some parts dragged, and some heavy-handed morals REALLY rubbed me the wrong way, but well... it was something. It was a visual novel. Yeah. That's all I really have to say about it.
Reasons to play this game: You like seeing anime girls yell at each other and have the money to spare reading some Ryukishi07 nonsense. Also you don't mind a shallow experience every now and then.
Reasons to NOT PLAY THIS GAME: Backwards and old-fashioned notions of gender drive you nuts. And you don't like repetitive stories with little to no payoff.
According to my game timer, it took me about 11 hours to read through the entirety of the game. For a 40 dollar visual novel...well.. it's up to you whether you think that sounds like a good deal or not.
I expected better from Ryukishi but... the subject of gender touched on in this game is really grating, to say the least. I could physically feel my blood curl at times. But besides that, it was a fun read I guess.
PS. The game features torture chairs and all, but the torture and stuff in this game is very light. There's nothing particularly graphic, and every instance of murder is vague at best.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Rather unwoke narrative focus on gender issues, non-graphic implications of anime girls dying, and anime girls making ugly expressions. So yeah nothing absolutely horrific. This game is pretty tame overall.
DISORGANIZED SPOILER FILLED PLOT DUMP
The game opens pretty abruptly into the torture zone. The girls are confused, and a mysterious voice immediately explains all the rules to them. The dead-fish looking little boy stares at nothing while the girls prod at him to no avail, and he then does as commanded by the mysterious voice to pass out the role cards.
Honestly my memories are blurred together since you go through all this nonsense 12 times. Each segment is split into flashback sequences, where you see a scene relevant to the girl you choose as prisoner, torture dungeon segment, where u see the shenanigans unfold, and then more flashback whiplash to show you how the bonds between these girls used to be before all this happened. Over and over and over again until you have all the pieces of the puzzle.
Basically, it turns out that while each girl loves one girl... that girl HATES THEM BACK. Its a love and hate circle. (Circles play a big theme in this game)
Karin LOVES Fuuka, but she HATES Mina, because to her, Mina is just an animal who lives to please others and use her cuteness to get what she wants.
Mina LOVES Karin, but she HATES Doremi. Because Doremi lied one time. Okay this one was pretty weak...
Doremi LOVES Mina, but she HATES Fuuka, because Fuuka is a two-faced selfish spoiled bitch.
Fuuka LOVES Doremi, but she HATES Karin. Because Karin is a dirty liar who doesn't understand the human heart.
Here's one example of a round.
Karin is prisoner and Mina is Pierrot. Karin immediately notes a loose piece of metal on the wall and claims they should switch her with Mina so that she can use her muscles to pull it loose. Mina is weak after all, so Karin would be more useful. Fuuka refuses to let Karin have her way because she reveals that she HATES Karin. "I can't trust what you say because you're a liar who broke a promise with me before! Fuck you bitch.' Karin's like HUH.
Anyways, Doremi intervenes all like yo yo none of that right now... I'm gonna trust her. So she says 'innocent' and swaps Karin with Mina. Karin pulls the loose metal from the wall and pries the elevator open, but she has no way to unlock their collars... She asks Doremi to say 'Guilty', because maybe the chains will only unlock after judging the prisoner? After Doremi says 'guilty' and unlocks the torture lever, Karin smacks Doremi in the neck with the metal, knocking her to the ground. Doremi is dead? Incapacitated? Who knows.
Fuuka ofc is like KARIN WHAT THE FUCK... And Karin is like now you can't return me to prisoner. The only way out now is to kill Mina! Pull the torture lever, Fuuka! Fuuka however refuses because she hates Karin ofc... she'd never kill Mina. Karin is all like even now I still love you... we can make things right. Mina has no worth as a human being anyways since she's just a dirty animal. Mina: HUH. Anyways Karin tries to incapacitate Fuuka in order to use her hand to pull the lever, so Fuuka strangles Karin with her chain. She then holds Mina's hand as they get barbecued to death.
Now imagine this amount of psychotic behavior but with everyone else.
Have some scenes with barely any context.
|Karin: I've hated you since a long time ago!! I hate hate hate hate you you animal girl! Aah to finally say this, I feel so refreshed!|
|Mina: Didn't I say something sooo praiseworthy? Doremi-chan is seriously just a slave! Hyahahahahahahahhaha!!|
|Fuuka: Don't say it! When will you, hAAH?! So say it!!|
[I don't remember the context so I have no idea wtf she's going on about here but she's probably talking to Karin]
|Mina: Help me mama, mamaaaAAaaAAAAaAAA!! *gets barbecued*|
|Fuuka: Haha, haahahahahaaahahahaaahahhahahahaha...|
|Fuuka: AAAAAAAAAH, AHAGAGAGAGAGAGAAAAAAAAAGAGAAAG!!!!|
|Mina and Doremi trying to kill each other|
|text: it looked like Doremi wasn't dead yet|
|*Doremi strangles Karin and Mina by wrapping their chains together before swapping the prisoner's role*|
|Fuuka: Thank you, Doremi. Now fall into hell|
|Doremi strangling Fuuka|
As you can probably guess, none of the 12 possible iterations of the torture game end well. No matter how good things seem to be going, one girl will inevitably give into her blood lust and get someone killed. Half the time they even prefer to choose death rather than let a friend kill their favorite friend or wtvr etc etc it's a lot of drama.
|Mina: Karin-chan, could it be you're really a boy? You're really just a crossdressng bishounen?|
|Fuuka: BeEeEEEF!!! *breathes heavily* Beef, BeEEeEeEEF!!!!|
|Fuuka: You're really cute|
|Them as 2nd graders|
|Kuu-chan the cat|
|POV you are the vet front desk employee who has to see 4 high school girls try to kill each other over a cat|
|Obligatory bath scene?? HUH???|