Yeah! That's right! Carve it into your soul! tsupertsundere’s profile

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Hello! I'm here to play games, get achievements, make friends, and believe in myself. You can find a directory of all my reviews here, organized by year and month.

Currently playing: NieR:Automata, Oblivious Garden, Yakuza: Dead Soul5

Interested in visual novels but not sure where to start?
Please take a look at my Visual Novel Reference List!
Find me on tumblr, goodreads, and Completionist.me, too.

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Update Three Hundred and Eight: 19 May 2019

Tokyo Dark

32 hours playtime, ~7 hrs actual, 39 of 44 achievements
7.5/10


☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Hovering just shy of greatness, Tokyo Dark is a point and click-lite/visual novel about one woman’s descent into Darkness—proper noun and all.

Surprising no one, this is a heavy game—the few spots of levity are soon quickly subsumed by the unrelenting gloom. It works, though I’m glad the game is pretty short; it would’ve been insufferable if it had gone on much longer. Suitably, there’s vanishingly few good ways out, and while I didn’t get all the endings (this time) I got the majority of them, ranging from really bad to bittersweet.

There’s some truly affecting moments in the game, particularly revolving around Detective Ayami and her missing partner (in all senses of the word) Tanaka. The story of the main ‘antagonist’ of the game, Reina, is also interesting, and the two women play off each other well. It’s nice to see different parts of Tokyo in Ayami’s travels, even though it’s definitely not meant to make you want to visit. Tokyo Dark’s Tokyo is… …. … (okay, it’s too easy, I can’t not) dark. You even get to visit Kabukicho, which I was jazzed about, and meet a yakuza boss, which I was even more ecstatic about, and she is really cool and a HUGE cat lover, which I was over the moon about.

The game doesn’t play as well as I would have liked—moving around the screen doesn’t feel great, and it’s very easy to walk into and out of proximity of hot spots without realizing it. The game’s text is also WAY messier than I was expecting, seeing how polished the art and UI is. There were more than a few errors like missing punctuation, missing dialogue tags, or the wrong name/icon coming up for who is speaking. The writing overall could’ve used another pass, too, to tighten things up here and there.

I ended up replaying the game in full THREE times, which is a lot of times. The game isn’t terribly long, but there’s only intermittent skip opportunities, and you don’t get access to save points until your New Game+. Even then, there’s only 6 slots and you don’t pick where those points are. It hampers the replayability that the game is looking for.

… god, that sounded much more negative than I actually feel about the game. I liked it enough to replay it three times in, like, three days! I’m just not having a very good one today. My anxiety’s been spiking a lot this past week. It’s not fun.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a good showing! Give Tokyo Dark a chance.

Next up: It’s about time I play this one, huh? (I’m glad there’s an in-game shop where you can buy achievements bc I’m sure as fuck not looking up that poor girl’s skirt, yoko taro’s a fuckin creep for that one)

See you soon!

Update Three Hundred and Seven: 12 May 2019

Alicemare

7.7 hours playtime, ~1.5 hr actual, 13 of 13 achievements
5/10


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The Good: I’m doing another double post in one day you guys! Remember that?
The Bad: You gotta read shit I’m saying without any sleeps in between.
The Ugly: I didn’t really care for Alicemare.

NOT THAT I THOUGHT IT WAS BAD! I just thought it was… like… okay. Compared to Miwashiba’s newer stuff, it’s fairly unimpressive. There isn’t anything particularly new said with these (kind of tired) fairy tale retellings, and it was another game where I felt like things just kind of happened without any impact. Miwashiba’s iconic art style is in its infancy here, not yet developed a special flair. It’s nice, but… I don’t know. Flat.

It’s not my favorite kind of genre, either, so that combined with a much earlier effort left a pretty underwhelming impression. But that’s fine! It’s an okay time, an easy 100%, and I’m glad I played it, even if it’s to say I played it. I liked the choice of music and sfx, and I especially like how this was the first step in a really nice spread of games.

Next up: RNGesus says—oh boy, they really did just take that font from dafont.com, huh?

See you soon!

Update Three Hundred and Six: 12 May 2019

XBlaze Lost: Memories

99 hours playtime, ~10 hr actual, 40 of 40 achievements
4/10


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This VN really shouldn’t exist. If you have a sequel, and spend half of that sequel recounting what happened in the preceding title, then that sequel shouldn’t exist.

That’s XBlaze Lost: Memories. The first XBlaze title was, like… it was aight. Not groundbreaking, but the dynamic sprites are lively and, when they’re not getting lost in Unfortunate Anime Tiddy(tm), the art is well done and appealing. It’s a VN spinoff of a fighting game, so I’m not expecting the House in Fata Morgana here. The sequel makes everything worse.

This is a VN that I had to fight to play. A poor Vita port, I spent the better part of an hour when I first started trying to just get the game to LOOK okay, always a bad sign in a fuckin visual novel, of all places. The anti-aliasing in this game, at least on my computer, is non-existent - no matter what setting I had it on, how I displayed it, the lines remained distractingly jagged, flickering across the screen and ruining the dynamism of the sprites. I eventually just had to give up and just live with it. The game’s default setting is to be in auto-mode, which is annoying enough, but when you turn auto-mode off, the ‘standard’ click-through mode’s default is to have no subtitles. The port’s keybindings are goofy as fuck, where I had to dig to find out what does what. So every time I launch the visual novel, intending to read it like a visual novel, I’d have to press l to stop auto mode, confirm I want to stop auto-mode, then press 9 to turn on subtitles. It sounds petty, but it really fuckin grated on me, like having to do a little secret handshake every time I wanted to leave my home. It adds up.

The story is similarly aggravating—there’s a weird story wrapper about this new girl you don’t know in a different universe who gets sucked into the ‘Phantom Field’ and she meets a character with the most bullshit costume design I’ve ever seen, made by someone who has never seen and has no knowledge of breasts, gravity, wind, motion, physics, and breathing, let alone the idea of having your character design inform, uh, u kno, your character’s character. New girl protagonist uncovers the memories of one of the characters from the previous game, and you spend, like I said, half the game sitting through that again. The whole previous game.

More bullshit happens, nothing matters, I am so fuckin crabby about this game. As I was first getting set up with it I saw a post someone made on the steam forums saying something to the effect of ‘why would they even release this game on steam? The first game only sold like 2400 copies on steam, even less people would go for the sequel. Seems like a pointless release.’ At the time, I thought that was kind of mean and uncharitable.

I don’t think that anymore.

Next up: I made a promise and I’m sticking with it! Next is—

See you soon!

Update Three Hundred and Five: 9 May 2019

Lionheart

236 hours playtime, ~30 hr actual, 21 of 21 achievements
Doesn't matter!/10


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I feel like I’ve woken up from a two-week long coma, or an eighty-year long nap. Like when you wake up and you’ve only REALLY slept for an hour and a half but you’re disoriented and vaguely sticky and your mouth feels like the inside of a boot and you’re convinced you’ve died and been transported somewhere where your head is the same consistency as one of those squishy stress balls soaked in sour marmalade.

Anyway. Hey, hi. It’s been a while. Long time no see.

In between havin real life fun with real life friends, letting Dungeons and Dragons absorb my weekend, and drawing like a sonofabutch, I’ve been doing the daily (eternal) grind with Lionheart, a game that, if you don’t have already, you cannot and will never play. It really isn’t a great loss.

Some pretty serious fuckshit (yes, that is a legal term) lead publisher and localizer Fruitbat Factory to remove Lionheart from their catalog. That already is reason enough not to play it, and then you get to the core of things: the game itself is a nothing-game. Nothing about it is particularly special or impactful or even all that bad. It’s the platonic ideal of nothingness, a great big shrug.

You play as a plucky guy who’s really dumb, there’s a cast of characters (including the take-no-shit white mage, the only real bright spot in this game), you have to explore this corridor and eventually fight a demon lord, it’s very flat 2D turn-based combat that’s clunky and just… well…

It helped me watch about four episodes of Critical Role in two weeks, which is better than my previous rate of an episode a week. Everyone (including my girlfriend) is so far ahead of me in watching it, but it helped me get a little bit closer! The incredible grindy nature of the game gave me just enough to do with my hands so I could focus on the way more interesting adventures of the Mighty Nein.

… yeah, folks, that’s all I got.

Next up: Holy christ do I need a pick-me-up after that, and I get to choose a game myself that fits the monthly theme! I choose—

See you soon!

Update Three Hundred and Four: 22 April 2019

Toren

3.7 hours playtime, 12 of 12 achievements
4.5/10


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LOOK TRENT I FINISHED TOREN

I didn’t finish it in one sitting like I wanted. I couldn’t - it…. it was too boring <:c

The game isn’t bad by any stretch of the word, no. It’s just… it’s too ‘almost’. It’s clunky and lacks finesse in everything—the art style, animations, story, presentation, controls, gameplay, setting… there’s effort here, a lot of effort, but there’s just none of that somethin’ that makes a game really stand out. I was definitely playing to not have to play it again, rather than play it for fun.

It’s not all awful, of course—the premise is pretty interesting, and I like how it’s a girl, of course, and the Moonchild LITERALLY being the moon was pretty clever. It’s just all ‘not quite’. Mix in some baffling gameplay choices (yes! what this game needed ABSOLUTELY was a puzzle where you wander around in a simple maze in the dark, waiting for 5 seconds that feels like an eternity each time for a lightning flash to light your way) and a surprisingly small map and… it just… ehhhhhh.

There’s something that was floating around in my head while I was playing that I immediately tagged as ‘god that’s SO pretentious,’ but I’ma say it anyway bc after three hundred some odd reviews that ship has sailed long ago—I feel like this is a good game for kids because it’s pretty simple and kids are more forgiving because they tend not to have very refined tastes.

see? Told ya. I’m gonna go lock myself in a car and listen to Top 40 hits only as punishment for being too much of a hipster. And it’s at this precise moment I realize it’s been a while since I’ve heard hipster used as an insult. Oh my god time comes for us all.

Next up: this game has been removed from the steam store, but not from my backlog! Apparently it is VERY grindy, but, hey, that just means I get to watch more Critical Role while playing—

See you soon!

Update Three Hundred and Three: 19 April 2019

A Light in the Dark

49 hours playtime, ~5 hrs actual, 12 of 12 achievements
6/10


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I want to thank my kyoudai, Shax, once again for gifting me this visual novel over the holidays! I’m glad I got a chance to play it, and without him that may have been very far in the future, indeed.

This is a little bit of a strange one. Set in Taiwan, you play a rich young man who is kidnapped by two sisters and held for ransom. And then… you get released. Or die. Or they let you go. Or you die.

The story is painfully straightforward, and there’s a large political class struggle aspect to it that is handled rather clumsily. Protag is a huge dickhead at the outset, of course, blaming the older sister for her poor position and saying she’s just a whiner etc. etc. rich people aren’t at fault etc. etc. He changes his tune as the game goes on and he gets to know both girls better, but it’s not really… interesting or compelling. Like, ‘oh, I guess people really can’t help being poor and that’s sad’.

The art is lovely, which is a bonus, though not being able to save whenever is a little annoying. The choices are all timed, which doesn’t lend anything to the game.

It was an okay time spent with it, but not anything in particular to write home about! I always have such a hard time writing about games like this…

Next up: I like finally being able to play games I’ve had for a long-ass time.

See you soon!

Update Three Hundred and Two: 16 April 2019

the Inner World: the Last Wind Monk

22 hours playtime, ~5 hrs actual, 25 of 25 achievements
7/10


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This game was a bit shorter than I expected, though I don’t think it suffers for it. At the beginning of the Last Wind Monk, I have to admit I felt like this sequel was kind of… unnecessary. I liked the previous Inner World game much more than I thought I would, and felt the story wrapped up neatly. Adding a new story with a new complication just felt…. like, ehhh, okay.

But beyond an excuse to make another game and have people solve more kind of goofy puzzles, I really enjoyed the overarching theme of Robert, the main character, recovering from the trauma of his upbringing by the previous game’s antagonist. It’s typically played for laughs, yes, because this is a lighthearted game, but the core of Robert being hampered by the villain’s voice in his head and afraid to stand up for himself and how he has to move on from that is, like, really nice.

Also, like, bewilderingly, (but good bewilderingly), the romance that was hinted toward between Laura (your deuteragonist, still in rare pushy delightful form) and Robert seemed to be usurped by the introduction of a girl who crushes hard on Laura, all the way through to the end where the last shot is the girl holding Laura while Laura and Robert just shake hands. I’m usually pretty sensitive to this shit (AMONG OTHER THINGS i SAY VERY LOUDLY AND QUITE SENSITIVELY) and while it was obviously partly meant to be funny… it didn’t come across as cruel or that the character is meant to be a really negative or nasty trope. She’s portrayed as sweet and nice and she just has a crush… on another girl. That was a cute little surprise!

Otherwise: everything else is standard cozy fare, which is good. It’s been a bit since I played a point and click.

Next up: Okay, remember how I said I was going to finish out my challenge me? I…. lied. I really want to save Fallout: New Vegas for next year, so I’ll end my challenge here. Thank you so much again to BLAEO user Neku for picking for me!
This is one of the oldest games in my backlog, and I figure it’s time to get it out.

See you soon!

Update Three Hundred and One: 14 April 2019

Heart of the House

18.5 hours playtime, ~5.5 hrs actual, 25 of 37 achievements
8/10


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This is going to be one of my more incoherent reviews, and for that I apologize. I finished this game yesterday morning, which makes the distinction of the longest length of time between finishing a game and writing a review for it. Last night we had a spectacular D&D session that was incredibly fun and gratifying. My character lost in a tournament against her estranged older sister, lead a brutal interrogation, and acquired an enchanted tetsubo, and then my friends stayed up talking with me literally until 6 am in the morning when I finally kicked them out. Suffice it to say, I didn’t get a full night’s sleep and my brain is still whirling with stuff and another player gave me this amazing fanart they painted of my character in ANOTHER game and we barely know each other but they liked how I was playing him and I feel giddy as hell and it’s really hard to focus on things but I’m going to do my best.

I have a tension-filled relationship with Choice Of Games offerings—they’re right up my alley and of variable but usually very good quality on the one hand, but they lack basic quality of life features and have very little achievement documentation on the other. I haven’t AVOIDED playing these games, per se, but when Heart of the House came up, I certainly was a little nervous.

I really shouldn’t have been! The writing was magnetic and interesting as hell, striking the perfect spooky tone that still allowed for levity and, of course, some really choice fockin romance. The story’s clear progression—you chasing after your Uncle Kent and tracking him to this strange manor far from London, gaining access and having various misadventures in said manor—moved the plot at a crisp pace and still allowed for dalliances, dreams, and of course the prerequisite masquerade ball scene. The mystery’s questions and answers are set up and given at the right pace, and, unlike in other Choice of Games titles, the ‘stats’ that you have matter less than just the actual decisions you make. I’ve been listening to the Magnus Archives as I’ve been walking dogs, so I’ve been in a spooky mood and this was the perfect complement.

I did two playthroughs, and I wasn’t sure how much I liked this game after the first playthrough, mostly because of the negative shock and heartache that I felt at getting my love interest killed. I have to admit, after that it was a blur—I was numb and aghast and pretty upset bc I liked him so much. When I realized I was still thinking about it as I laid down to try to sleep, I figured that a game that could affect me that much certainly was a game that had something going for it.

The spooks aren’t necessarily horror in a real immediate sense—I’ve read scarier visual novels—but the tensions of the mystery hold up well. Come for the haunted house, stay for the choice romances and the ever-expanding scope of wrongness as you discover the heart of the house.

This is the second Choice of Games title to make it into my Visual Novel Masterlist, which has been experiencing a renaissance of late! That’s nice c:

Okay, that’s it for me today, folks. Time to bask in these good feelings (and be thankful for them) (and try not to fall asleep until nighttime).

Next up: my kyoudai Shax gave me this for Christmas, and RNGesus decreed me to play it. Thank you so much, Shax!

See you soon!

Update THREE HUNDRED!!!: 9 April 2019

Ghosts of Miami

23 hours playtime, ~5.5 hrs actual, 23 of 23 achievements
7.5/10


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Holy shit, look at that - review 300. Okay, well, it both is and isn’t review 300 - it’s games on Steam review 300 (and I know for sure this time!), but with the four non-Steam Yakuza reviews it’s put me a bit over. Regardless, it’s a red letter day as it stands. Today isn’t the best day for me—I’m prone to anxiety and today is one of my worse days—but review 200 (technically 201) was maudlin and I don’t want this one to be, either. I’ll save the big grandstanding for my 2nd BLAEOiversary, but I want to at least offer big big thanks to mandrill, for maintaining the site, the group moderators who tolerate me posting as much as I do, and to everyone here who not only took the time to read ANY number of the bajillion reviews I’ve done, but commented and said something nice as well. As lame as it is, I cheerfully report them to my girlfriend and it lights up my day every time.

ANYWAY! The review.

Ghosts of Miami is painfully underrated, and while I have some suspicions I can’t really say conclusively why. It has a paltry three ratings on vndb, all unfavorable ones (until I swoop in, motherfuckers!). While it’s a little rough around the edges, I simply don’t agree—I enjoyed my time with it very much.

The premise is both familiar enough to get into easily, with a unique take to deliver something fresh. You play as Chelo Martinez, a young Cuban woman starting up her own private investigation joint in Miami in the late 80’s. The aesthetic is used to the MAX, in the UI to the backgrounds to the adorable opening animation to the character design. I, personally, ADORE it. The late 80’s vaporwave-clunkypixel-retrosunset moment we’re (still) in is brought to its apex in, around, and about Miami, and you won’t find it stronger than here. I’m a sucker for pastels and bright prints and this game just looks so good.

It, unfortunately, doesn’t run as well as it looks. I want to beg any dev who would listen to stop using Unity to run visual novels—Ren’Py is RIGHT THERE, and whatever bonus you get from Unity I know you can do in Ren’Py. VNs in Unity experience a strange, unnecessary lag, and lack vital quality of life features that are near required in VNs. Things Ghosts in Miami is missing? Oh, nothing big, just the ability to save in more than one slot.

The game autosaves at EVERY line, and there’s no going back if you fuck up. Its story is split into 5 cases, and you CAN restart any case after you finish it… and while it’s not a long game by any stretch of the imagination, not having this feature just pinches. Vndb also inaccurately lists this game as having no skip function—it does (it’s the ‘tilde’ key, or whatever you have immediately above the tab key) but it also doesn’t stop for unread text, another vital feature for VNs that, like this, pretty much require multiple playthroughs.

This game does, for sure—two love interests don’t unlock until after you play the game once, and there’s another, more final, more realistic ending that unlocks once you get both of THEIR romantic endings. It was a good, interesting decisions, gutsy, even—I just wish it were easier to get to.

The characters are well-fleshed out, and I liked that the realities of Miami at the time were portrayed matter-of-factly, without hiding or sensationalizing them—criminality, the drug trade, racism, homophobia and transphobia are facts of life, and these characters have had to live with that reality and act accordingly. The love interests are all very different and well-drawn and appealing.

I think I just want more. I’ve had just enough to really like what I see, but it feels like it’s over just as things are getting good, with the romances often put on the backburner behind the cases you’re in the middle of solving.

Overall, it’s very worthwhile, and I’m charmed by it. I’m adding it to my Visual Novel Master List.

Next up: With this, I’m down to under 50 VNs in my backlog. Sometimes being underemployed for a while can have its benefits! c: <:C

See you soon!

Update Two Hundred and Ninety-Nine: 8 April 2019

Rise of the Tomb Raider

32 hours playtime, 84 of 143 achievements
8.5/10


☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Oh, I had a LOT of fun with this.

I had placed the first reboot of Tomb Raider back when it came out on the 360 and liked it well enough, but I have to admit I was intimidated by this one for some reason. I wouldn’t have played it in a LONG time if it wasn’t for it being picked for me in a challenge, and I’m VERY glad it was.

First off, the game runs like butter, so smooth and soft it surprised even me. It made my computer run really hot, though, and it wasn’t SUPER quiet, but I had very little problems with it. Every once in a while it’d run out of graphical memory and crash, which was annoying, but the checkpoints are plentiful and the game autosaves (if you’re not playing on extreme survivor) every time you pick up a collectible, so it wasn’t a big deal. Everything is beautiful, the weather effects, the set design, the character animation—so much so that I was surprised! The performances are fine and Lara in particular has grown so much from the first game as a character.

This is a game that I actively wanted to keep playing. There’s usually only a minute in between ‘reward’ dopamine rushes—the collectibles are plentiful and EVERYWHERE—and it was really easy to be like ‘okay, I’m gonna just get the next little thing’ and then look up and a half hour has passed. Traversing the levels, both more linear ones and the couple wide open ones, was fun as hell and at a good, brisk pace. Even the bigger levels weren’t TOO big—they were just the right size to let you run around, but not TOO big they became a chore to navigate or you constantly got lost in them.

I gave a shit about the combat this time (HOW RARE THAT IS, YOU GUYS!!) and felt very rewarded by landing headshots silently from across a clearing. Going from Yakuza games to this, though, was kind of a rude awakening because Lara kills so many fuckin’ people. Going from old-ass been-in-prison-ass Kiryu pummeling dudes but them being largely fine afterward to 22-year-old bright-eyed sweet-voiced Lara skewering dudes and ripping out kidneys was a shock to the system, for sure. My girl’s got a body count. There’s tons of different options to explore, and I actually found myself using all four types of weapons (bow, pistol, shotgun, rifle) more or less equally. The alt ammo options also were great.

I would’ve been fine without combat, though, because my real focus? Tomb raidin’. The exploration sections and the challenge tombs were so FUN and so interesting. I loved clambering all over shit, getting my mitts on everything, listening to Lara comment on different things she finds (which I wish happened more!). The platforming felt smooth and had a great flow and rhythm to it. This whole game definitely hits the category of ‘joy to play’.

The DLCs are plentiful, and half of them (Endurance modes and combat-focused modes, mostly) are kinds of things I just plumb don’t care about, so I left them alone. The short story DLC was pretty good (though it introduced a couple of timing-related puzzles which can go straight to hell) though nothing to particularly write home about, just like the main story. They’re fine, but I could see the twists coming from minute one.

The REAL triumph, though? The real joy? The real big grin ‘I’ve feel seen!’ moment? A DLC story that’s essentially a walking simulator through Lara’s manor and you get your hands on NEARLY A HUNDRED relics and documents that expands upon her backstory and her family history, with some light puzzling, and Lara talks to you about her feelings about it.

Guys. That shit is MADE for me. And I loved it! My favorite part of the game by far. A++++ would snoop through a huge manor in disrepair again.

Next up: I won’t finish ALL my challenge games in time for the month, but I DO plan on playing them! I went out of order a bit just to place a less high-energy, shorter point and click between two behemoths. That means it’s time for—

See you soon!