Tag Archives: visual novel

NCG Review – Steins;Gate Elite (PS4, Switch, PC)

Steins;Gate Elite is a remastered version of the original titled. Based on the original game, 80,000 lines of text and over 7,000 anime scenes were analyzed in order to piece together this Elite version of the game.

I attempted picking up the original Steins;Gate visual novel, but struggled to make it through to the end.  Can players find themselves making it to the end of the Elite version?

Story

If you are unfamiliar with the story, Okabe Rintaro AKA Hououin Kyouma is a mad scientist set to oppose “The Organization”.  Most of this is part of his own self-created delusions, but his lab mems (lab members) Mayushii and Daru go along with his flow.  After discovering the body of Makise Kurisu at a conference about time-travel, something strange happens to Okabe when he makes it back to the streets of Akihabara.  After sending a text message to fellow lab mem, Daru, about Makise Kurisu’s death, Okabe finds himself alone on the streets of Akihabara. As the people come back, Okabe notices that his memories of the events at the Radio Kaikan building, where the conference took place, do not seem to match those around him.  Instead, the Radio Kaikan building has been closed down because a satellite has crashed into it and Mayushii, who attended the even with him, has no recollection of being inside of the building.

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It isn’t until Okabe finds Makise Kurisu, alive and well, that he starts questioning what has happened.  Events start to unfold after the re-appearance of a mysterious self-proclaimed time traveler (who no one remembers from 10 years prior), strange phenomena occurring with the use of the latest gadget “Phone Wave (name subject to change), and a living breathing Makise Kurisu.  What has happened to Okabe Rintaro? This story has a very clever use of time travel theories and the butterfly effect.  If you haven’t watched the series, you’ll find yourself wondering how the events unfold, diverge and reconnect together.

Graphics

Deviating for normal graphic novel story telling, Steins;Gate Elite incorporates anime into the overall game play.  Rather than looking at a static figure and dialogue, you experience the scene as though watching an anime.  This approach to visual novels makes the story so much more engaging! I struggled to stay awake while playing the previous game. The Elite version just feels more satisfying to play.

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My only gripe about this transition from static to moving is that the overall style of the original visual novel is removed.  The hand-drawn representation and unique look is removed in the Elite version and comes off very bland. I would have liked to see the original style in-tact.  This, of course, makes sense since scenes were taken from the anime itself.

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Gameplay

Graphic novels follow the same formula.  You are presented with dialogue, and when the protagonist needs to make a choice, you choose between 2 or 3 responses.  In turn, these responses determine which kind of ending you’ll get.

Steins:Gate is unique in that, rather than a pop up of multiple responses, the outcome of your story is determined by how you respond to other characters via text message.  This is a creative device since so much of the story is based around the usage of cellphones and text messaging.  Choosing a response, or lack thereof, can set you down your ending path.

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Steins:Gate Elite uses a very similar mechanic to the original.  However, the responses you will need to make will not align with the original game since new communications between characters have been added; this makes the game feel a bit newer and less like the original but still maintains the original story and pattern.  Elite adds new animations and scenes for each character route.  This will have you going back to see the variety of ways the story could end.  I am aiming for a Mayuri route! Needing to check the cellphone is a bit more guided.  When I first jumped into the original Steins;Gate I didn’t even look at messages because I didn’t realize you were supposed to! This takes away from the exploration aspect, but it also emphasizes the relevance of the communications, which wasn’t very clear in the original title.

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Verdict

Pros: Steins;Gate is definitely one of my favorite series.  I like all of the characters, and although the series is very harem, it’s not overly fan-servicey and sticks to the main plot.  The exploration of time travel through these characters is unforgettable.

Using animation for the story telling aspect is basically what I have wanted for every visual novel I have played. This is a win, hands down.

The addition of new animations to unlock and different story routes are what brings you back to the game; you want to get all endings.  The new animations are going to keep me hooked since I want to see scenes that were not in the anime.

Cons: While I really like the animated story telling, the overall style of the series is lost.  I felt the characters were really beautiful in the original title, but their overall design was lost in the transition.  I guess some sacrifices needed to be made.

I would rate Steins:Gate Elite a 9 out of 10.  Sure, you know what you’re expecting, but the Elite version is a new approach to visual novels that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Score

 

 

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Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms releasing on Steam this Spring

Love will be in the air again this spring for both Vita and PC players.  Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms will be hitting the Vita on March 13th, 2018 and on Steam Spring 2018.

Join Chizuru and the Shinsengumi in the second part of the series.  This time, the story will take place in Edo and will include new characters, love interests and episodes.

Are you a fan of the Hakuoki series? Who is your favorite character? Let us know in the comments!

Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms Coming Next Spring

The next installment of the Hakuoki is coming next spring to the PS Vita; prepare yourself for more romance with 12 handsome men!

Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms will follow Chizuru back in her home town, Edo, and the next chapter of the fallen Shinsengumi.  Who will Chizuru fall in love with next?

Key Features

  • 12 Charming Bachelors – Start by choosing from one of 12 handsome bachelors and fall in love with Japanese history’s most famous warriors.
  • Multiple Endings, One True Love – Explore the gorgeous world of Hakuoki through narrative choices that unlock branching storylines and up to 30 different endings.
  • Beautiful History Comes Alive – The dramatic romance, friendship, and betrayal unfolds on your screen through fluid animation, vibrant art, and detailed CGs.

Will you be looking forward to this title? Do you already have an idea of who you want a romance with? Let us know in the comments!

Chaos; Child Character Trailer for PS4/PS Vita

Most of us who love the Chaos series have probably already watched the anime and are pretty familiar with the cast.  But that shouldn’t stop you from checking out the latest trailer for the game coming to PS4 and PS Vita this October.

For those unfamiliar with the story:

A series of bizarre deaths strike fear in the hearts of citizens in Shibuya, Tokya.  A streamer dies on-screen, a street musician dies horribly on the street.  No one knows how or why.

As part of the school’s newspaper club, Takeru Miyashiro becomes fascinated with the mysterious deaths when he notices that the dates of the incidents match up with a series of murders that happened shortly before a fateful earthquake that killed his parents and changed his life years earlier.

Together with his friends and fellow newspaper club members, Serika and Shinji, his adopted sister Nono, a mysterious fellow student by the name of Hinae, and scientist names Mio, Takeru begin to investigate the phenomenon referred to as the New Generation Madness, and uncover hidden secrets that will put them all in more danger than they ever imagined.


Are you a fan of the Chaos series? Which is your favorite?  Are you excited for the upcoming game? Let us know in the comments!

NCG Review – Danganronpa V3 Killing Harmony ( PS4/PSVITA )

Details

Title: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
Genre: Interactive Visual Novel
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: September 26, 2017 (NA)

 

Story

I would LOVE to do a segment on the story, however, this is one of those titles where I definitely don’t want to ruin it for everyone. Maybe in the future when it’s really eating at me… We shall see.  The game has been released in Japan since the beginning of the year, but if you’ve stayed off the internet what happens will be, like all Danganronpa games, a twisted ride.

What I really enjoyed about the plot line is that it is not centered on Despair, rather, there’s an overwhelming theme of identifying the truth.  Whether it be trusting what you see, political or religious beliefs, what is presented to you by the media and what you yourself experienced, there’s this underlying desire for truth and a need to uncover it through all the deceit around you.  And yet, even if you reach a truth, there are many lies still circling around it.

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Getting into the title felt difficult because the cast is initially off putting but as you go through the story, characters really start to grow on you.  Heck, I even think Keebo is pretty cool.  Character personalities tend to take a drastic turn, and while they develop to some extent, sometimes they fall flat into a character arch type.

Despite all the tragedies that occur in the killing game, there is still a good balance between humor and horror. With all the pop-culture and nerd references peppered throughout the game, there are still a few laughs mixed in with the tears. What? No… I didn’t cry!

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Gameplay

With Danganronpa V3 Killing Harmony, gameplay is pretty much the same as previous titles, but with a few new twists.  The pacing of the overall story is similar to past titles: Free time, Investigation, Class Trial. This is nice because you feel right at home in the Danganronpa world; you already have a good “feel” for the game.  When you get into the class trials, you are prepared for all of the changes that will be thrown at you.

If V3 is the first title in the series you are picking up, tutorials will guide you through the debates.  They are not overwhelming or excessively annoying.

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The class trials run similar to previous games where you play mini-games to uncover the Blackened but most mechanics for the mini games have been upgraded.  Non-stop debates offer more stylish text effects that can throw you off. Text also interferes more often with statements.

In addition to the basic non-stop debate, you have the ability to lie.  This replaces taking a statement and using it against a classmate.  I found the lying aspect to be humorous.  Mostly because the protagonist is such a terrible liar!

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Another addition to the non-stop debates are the Mass Panic debates. You need to find the inconsistency and shoot the contradictory statement… with three voices talking at once.  Not only is there text flying in all directions, voices talk over one another.  Throughout the Mass Panic Debates, sometimes one voice will be louder than others and will need to be shut down in order for you to hit a contradictory statement (if there is one present) from another speaker.

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Hangman’s Gambit has evolved to Hangman’s Gambit Ver. 3.0.  Instead of selecting visible letters floating across the screen, all letters are hidden.  The board will occasionally light revealing the letters, but it is difficult to discern the word you are looking for without all given letters visible.

Psyche Taxi takes over Logic Dive.  You must drive and hit letter blocks to reveal the question, then you pick a lane to answer it. This was my second least favorite mini-game.  I had more fun and more of a challenge doing the Logic Dive from Danganronpa 2.

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The Rebuttal Showdown, where you slice words with a sword, is still present but the controls have become more clunky and difficult to control. This is because you have to use your joystick to move the sword rather than the Vita touch screen.  It was much easier to swipe the words away than to line your pointer up with the letters.  This definitely made it much more challenging.

Argument Armament has replaced the Panic Talk Action.  Argument Armament is the same concept, but also incorporates more rhythm game mechanics. Panic Talk Action was always my least favorite mini-game during class trails, so Argument Armament also takes the title for my least favorite mini-game of DRV3.  I love rhythm games, however, I always struggle to find the beat or the right pattern for the debate which makes my timing completely off the mark.  Argument Armament also “strips” the character down, so each successful hit takes off a layer of clothes… Do we really need to keep stripping down every damn anime character?

There are two mini games added: Mind Mine, where you will need to clear away all the blocks to reveal the board and select the correct object out of the three presented to you.  There is also Scrum Debates.  Scrum Debates happen when the class is divided in opinion.  As the opposing side presents their argument, you need to find the keyword of their statement to counter their opinion.

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What makes the mini-games more interesting compared to previous titles is the Casino.  During Free Time you have a chance to visit the Casino and re-play some of the mini games.  Plus you get the slot machine; it’s just like gambling in real life -you hardly win big!  The coins you win from the mini-games can be exchanged for gifts.  The Monomono machine is also still in the game.

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Graphics

I played this title on both consoles.  While I definitely prefer the comfort of handheld systems, playing on the PS4 brought the game to life.  Generally, visual novels aren’t graphically stimulating.  Playing on the PS4 made a noticeable difference for class trials. The frame rate runs much faster, and the layers of  characters and text make the scenes feel more interactive.

One thing that really jumps out is how bland the overall color scheme of the game is.  Compared to previous titles where colors are vibrant and eye-catching, DRV3 uses a lot of blues and purples.  I think this gives the game a darker tone, but also doesn’t make the title jump out the way its predecessors have.

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Audio

What I love about Danganronpa is that when you hear the soundtrack, you definitely know you are playing a Danganronpa game.  DRV3 brings in old favorites with a new mix that perfectly fits the overall tone for certain areas you explore.

PS4 VS Vita

I am always right at home on a handheld.  I find it much easier to get into a game if I have the convenience of playing it wherever the heck I want to.

That being said, Danganronpa being available on the PS4 and Vita was something new.  I haven’t really picked up visual novel titles for anything but a handheld and I always have a hard time getting into them if they’re not on a handheld system.  However, I recommend playing Danganronpa on the PS4. Not only did I get a bigger screen to watch the action of Danganronpa unfold, the class trials really stood out as a new experience.  Frame rates were much higher making the pointer a bit harder to control on the PlayStation 4 system, but the layered text effect and motion across the screen really  made the game feel more up close and personal.

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Of course, I still played the majority of the game on my Vita since I am out of the house more often than home but I definitely noticed the slight change in graphics and the slower frame rates made a huge difference in the overall feel of a class trial.

Keep in mind, if you can’t decide which system you want it for, buy the title for both consoles! It’s easy to cross save your game and switch between portable and stationary.

Verdict

Pros: Sprinkled with humorous pop culture references and being the same ol’ killing game we all love, DRV3 always keeps you guessing until the very end.  You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; and maybe you’ll sit in disbelief for an hour because how could that character die?!  Despite this being the 3rd entry of the High School Killing game (Despair Girls and Future Foundation don’t count) there are still many surprises thrown at you.  Even if you know the formula, from beginning to end you still can’t predict what will happen next.

There are plenty of new game play styles for class trials.  I think developeres did an excellent job making something feel old, yet still be entirely new.

Graphics on the PS4 give you a different game play experience compared to a handheld, but cross saving options will let you jump back and forth between systems.  That is, if you want to throw down the extra cash.

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Cons: This is mostly my fan opinion, but this is my least favorite entry to the series.  Characters were difficult to warm up to and fell flat in the end. The ending didn’t feel quite as moving as previous games.

During class trials, the pointer can be extremely difficult to control.  Being unable to control the cursor made some class trial aspects feel tedious and just straight up annoying.

The color scheme is muted, so the title does not pop in ways the previous titles have.

I would love to give Danganronpa a 10, but I am going to have to take it down to an 8.  Characters were hard to warm up to, the story doesn’t feel entirely compelling, and while some of the mini-games have been upgraded some of the controls felt clunky.

Score

This is a must-have for all Danganronpa fans.  Not only do you see what is happening in the Danganronpa world but also because of how the game itself has evolved as far as mechanics and story.

Which is your favorite title in the Danganronpa series? Have you picked up V3 yet? Have you encountered anything that took you completely by surprise? Let us know in the comments.