I make no secret in other reviews of how highly I think of knowledge-based investigation games, with Her Story being one of the early examples that really kicked off the popularity of this interesting little genre. Not only is this game another work from the very same director, but conceptually it blows the original out of the water with a massively expanded scope - you've got the plots of three movies, the fates of several actors, and a little something extra special all to keep track of. The amount of work it must have taken to put this all together is staggering.

Unfortunately, on the gameplay side of things, I do have a couple of qualms. While the mysteries are compelling once you've got more context, at the start before you really know what you're looking for, things can feel very aimless, making it hard to figure out what amongst the information overload is important to note. Conversely, while jumping between clips with shared objects is a novel idea that helps broaden your search early on, later when you're trying to find the last few new clips, the lack of control and inability to try specific things, as with Her Story's keywords, can be really frustrating, especially when trying to hunt down the secrets. By the end of the game I was pretty frustrated with the pace of progress, and when the credits rolled I felt a sense of relief more than anything, which isn't a great sign. Maybe this was just a skill issue on my end? But that took me out of the experience and made it harder to emotionally connect to the themes the game wanted to explore. It also left me missing some crucial scenes that I only found about later, despite the game declaring itself to be over.

As a friend of a friend of the author, and the writer of the first review for the game on this site, I feel some responsibility to try particular hard to sell it well. Unfortunately for me, the core appeal is naturally in the quality of the writing, and I don't have the vocabulary to compliment that in a way that doesn't sound generic. Fortunately for us all, it is in fact, very good - emotionally touching, thematically resonant, deeply intriguing, and with highly appealing, distinct and memorable characters.

Given the restrictions placed upon the game by the scope of its budget, the presentation is fairly impressive as well, making the most of the tools available to include good-looking character designs, and employing the game's music effectively - in particular, I can't stop thinking about the game's haunting main theme, and that's in large part due to finding the right music with the right tone and deploying it at the right moments.

Short and sweet. Obviously not going to be as tight as the pixel-precision platforming of the original, nor as polished as a full game, but the level design is mostly made to compensate for it, though there were still some tricky moments with depth perception. Also, the presentation and the updates on the characters are both as cute as a button.

Another entry in an increasingly long line of satisfying knowledge-based deduction games. This one admittedly features somewhat less work on the player's part, with a lot of memories being accessible just by chaining keywords from one to the next, but unlocking some and putting them all in order still requires some deductions and feels great, with a requisite "big important detail" you have to catch onto to untangle things in the late-game. The game is very short, playable in one session, but it's priced appropriately and that helps you keep all the details in your head. My only real gripe is that you can't zoom out or otherwise easily navigate the game window full of testimonies, things get pretty cluttered pretty fast and it can be hard to take note of things holistically instead of focusing just on the last thing you've seen.

As a big fan of FFV, I've long been aware of more modern job system games like this and recently felt a pull to give the demo a try. Unfortunately it just didn't really grab me? The job system didn't open up into interesting abilities and combinations fast enough and the barebones world and characters didn't do much to pull me in.

Some minor quibbles which are not nearly such sweeping statements and yet I feel still warrant comment: The platforming is really unnecessarily finicky, so many jumps take the absolute limit of your range. Yet I imagine if they were a full block shorter you'd probably frequently overshoot. I guess the voxel world design is something of a limitation here, if jumps could be maybe half a block narrower they'd feel a lot smoother. Also, managing aggro in the early game is a pain in the neck - your mages are slower than your tanks and liable to do more damage, so they'll just attract attention and get gibbed. It's a bit frustrating.

Wow, I booted this up and was immediately disappointed. The English translation is a trainwreck. It's extremely stiff, using the most basic tropes to translate phrases, completely disregarding standards and character voices set by the previous game in the series. And when the gameplay is entirely reading, the text being unreadably bad is kind of inexcusable! It's an insult to the incredibly high quality of the script in the previous two games. I may return to it later for completion's sake, but my enthusiasm to devour it ASAP has been absolutely drained.

I was eager to jump into this after finishing the main game, but I think that timing may have been a mistake - for unrelated reasons, I was quite depressed, and I didn't find myself feeling very strongly about a lot of what was presented, though I can tell I was supposed to.

I suppose a tragedy of a foregone conclusion is a very different type of story to the beguiling mystery of the main game, and it may be that's just not as much to my tastes - Fata Morgana enraptured me when it hit me with its big surprises, and that's often what I enjoy most in this medium. It's not a flaw of this game that it's not that kind of story, and certainly that should have been obvious from the premise, so it's not so much a letdown as much as just a mismatch. At the same time, it also feels so much like an extension of the main game, retreading so much of Door 8's content, that it feels hard to think about and rank it as a separate experience.

Whichever reason it didn't resonate with me - quite possibly a combination of both - it doesn't feel fair to give it a numerical rating. And all this rambling is not to say I didn't feel anything about the game, it was definitely interesting to get a more detailed look at the original history of the setting, and Morgana's character remains fascinating.

Multiple people I know call this the best visual novel ever written. While I expected hyperbole like that to lead to some backlash, I still trusted their tastes enough to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did. It starts off as a relative slowburn, but those sections are still well-constructed, and the structure of the plot both demands and justifies it. And then every time you think you don't really see what the big deal is, something hits. "Oh, so that's why people love this game... Ehh, but still..." and then something else hits. And then something else. It just keeps building up, going further and further, captivating me more and more, tackling subjects I never would have expected.

On top of the incredibly heartfelt story, the game also has striking visuals and an enchantingly distinctive soundtrack.

I enjoyed my time, by all means, but I think my expectations were a little higher than perhaps reasonable - some aspects felt like a bit of a letdown. The main story of the DLC wasn't that much bigger than the Teal Mask as I was expecting, though I do expect there'll be much more of a postgame to enjoy. Despite continuing the story of the characters from the Teal Mask, something about how they were handled felt a bit less satisfying here, possibly because there's less focus on them. Also, the events in Blueberry Academy feel pretty much entirely tacked on to justify the inclusion of a new area - it is a cool new area, but the plot doesn't really start until you're back in Paldea, which in retrospect is sort of predictable given the premise, but still makes things awkward. As far as the main plot goes I think I prefer the Teal Mask, which is kind of a shame since it ends on a cliffhanger and leaves all of its resolution up to this.

Still, it's not all bad. As said, the new area is cool, I have a lot of hopes for the postgame, and the touches of Unova nostalgia hit me right where it hurts. The double battle focus for the combat is also great, though I wish there were more than the five major fights - again, though, holding out for postgame. I'll have to come back and dock some points if all these hopes are let down, I guess.

For reasons unknown to me I didn't sit down and review this when I actually played it so my thoughts are going to be a less detailed and organised than I'd like. Nonetheless, I'm quite impressed by this DLC. The writing continues to resonate, there are some seriously challenging battles in the post-game difficulty mode, and it makes me really excited for the Indigo Disk. My only complaint would be that it's a bit short, but since it's part of the same purchase as its other half, it works fine as a set-up and teaser, as long as Disk continues to impress.

A very satisfying experience, continuing the slow trickle of knowledge-based deduction games that follow in the wake of Obra Dinn, Her Story, etc - and I'm always looking for more of those. Quite challenging, and I admit I brute-forced a few answers, but I also seem to have missed some potential evidence, so I feel confident a better player can figure it all out fairly. Very well-scoped for the game's small budget, a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

I heard of this hack a while ago, but avoided it for a long time - it really didn't look like my thing. I'm generally not interested in difficulty hacks, and the four abilities thing seemed bloated and silly. After giving it a try, I still don't think that's entirely untrue, but I have to concede that the difficulty options do a good job of making the game relatively accessible, and building a team to abuse some of the silly designs is quite a bit of fun. Speeding through the game without taking things too seriously was a fun way to kill a day. It's still not my personal ideal kind of Pokemon experience, hence the rating, but don't take the "Abandoned" mark as too much of a sign against the game - it crashed and I hadn't saved, I would have seen it through otherwise.

Played on version 7.5.1

The combination of Pokemon and life sim is a very compelling concept, and certainly there's some fun to be had, but I have to agree with the other review as of writing that there's some work to be done on execution. Rising through the ranks of the school is engaging, but somewhat repetitive, and in the endgame when the challenge of the fights ramps up, the restrictions on activities each day just become a frustrating barrier to optimising your team, rather than the game being built around those restrictions in a fun way.

The opportunity for role-playing is also hurt by a number of decisions. For one, the player character occasionally having dialogue can obviously take you out of it, even if it's just idle comments on scenery. Also, the stat system fails to be a reflection of your character's choices, as instead all four stats are expendable currencies you need to keep stocked up to get by, and in quantities that completely invalidate the early personality-based stat distribution. This is especially egregious with Skill, which you need to spent vast amounts of to upgrade floor fields, then raise back up to a threshold to pass your class - and each skill increase comes from winning a non-trivial Pokemon battle, making it a very drawn out process.

There are many more small nitpicks I could harp on as well. The spawn rate in the wild areas feels absurdly high and often congests movement. Learnsets are based on Gen 8, but TRs are far less accessible, which causes moveset issues. While I don't begrudge the self-inserts, the writing still indulges into fangame edge beyond that in a way that's completely incongruous with a more relaxed tone I might expect from a life sim. There's a lot of technical jank, like lag, eclectic music choices that loop poorly, messages from the developers pleading you to workaround janky mechanics, etc. Still, this much is justifiable in an alpha release.

Nonetheless, I still enjoyed what I played a fair amount, and I'm really interested to see what it could become with some more refinement.

For the most part, this game is junk food. It's not the most fulfilling, but it's fairly low-effort way to experience an appealing if trashy flavour. The combat is never particularly challenging, but it still demands just enough input from the player - and shoves enough flashy nonsense into your eyeballs - that it remains engaging without being stressful, so you can pass the time well enough while you sit back and enjoy girls being gay.

It's worth noting that I skipped straight to this game, not playing the first - it seemed to be reviewed quite a bit more poorly, with reports of fanservice that might've bordered on outright uncomfortable. I was already taking a gamble, with very little idea if this would actually be any good, so it made sense to shoot for the best chances.

One really standout aspect of this game is the way Rena and Yuki's relationship is handled - undeniably explicit, a core part of their arcs, and a consistent factor the game still pays mind to once it's established. It had me grinning from ear to ear. That said, it does make all of the other casual intimacy in the game kind of weird - like, in almost any other context, I'd be saying "yeah these girls are gay as hell", but since the game has proven it's willing to actually come out and say it... what does it mean when it doesn't? I dunno. Nonetheless, seeing the girls walk around holding hands and go on "dates" where they lie in bed together is good for the soul.

The game does have a number of rough edges that add up to a janky experience, like, I could seriously nitpick all day. So I will.
- The camera in fights is all over the place.
- Enemy designs are just kind of weirdly abstract without any connection to what's going on in the game.
- The skill names all being in different languages for ~aesthetic~ makes them very difficult to memorise and assign meaning to.
- The crafting system demands a tedious excess of material grinding if you care about upgrading everything.
- The fragment system has a lot of niche or redundant effects, rather than encouraging interesting builds.
- The stealth segments are godawful and contribute little.
- There's a lot of asset reuse and padding - even if that one time it was totally justified and really cool.
- Having to wait for skill animations to play out makes timing awkward when blocking big attacks or in the whole one-on-one mode.
- Asking a whole second playthrough for the true ending in a game that is neither short nor deep is very questionable.
I definitely wouldn't go so far as to call this an outright bad game, it's just, I dunno - making good art is really hard, actually, and when you focus on the standout masterpieces that's easy to lose track of. Sometimes you need a little mid in your life.

That's a lot of complaining, but the game's pleasures are comparatively simple, as already described - flashy spectacle, hella yuri, and a relaxed pace. Ultimately, I did enjoy my time, and the game was exactly what I needed right now.

OK, here's your hackneyed "like dark souls" comparison: it's Myst meets Obra Dinn meets Heaven's Vault. A point-and-click adventure puzzle game about using contextual inference to decipher various languages. And the game delivers on that premise fantastically, the satisfaction as your understanding of a word is confirmed by using it to solve a puzzle is unparalleled.

If I had one complaint, the stealth sections feel kind of unnecessary and out of place, but they're also fairly short, with quick and forgiving respawns, so it's kind of whatever. Some of the late game sequences also felt slightly unsatisfying, once you no longer really have anything new to grasp about the languages, but that's kind of inevitable, discovery can't last forever.