Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

For all feedback on our releases in all languages.
Post Reply
Hinotori
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:26 am

Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Hinotori » Mon Apr 04, 2016 12:46 pm

Hello,

When I heard about this game, I was a little skeptical, but I'm glad I heeded the advice of numerous commentators and gave it a play. The writing is not bad, excellent for the genre, and feels unexpectedly genuine and heartfelt. The characters feel extraordinarily like real people rather than the cardboard cutouts I was expecting. Some of the themes are obvious, but they are well handled, and I am frankly so glad that something like this even exists.

All that being said, I just wanted to voice my intense frustration at receiving the Kenji Roof ending on my first playthrough. Frankly, after I got past my initial disbelief, I was filled with anger. Not only did I feel that my hours of reading and playing had been wasted, but I felt punished for no discernible reason. The choices you make and the consequences have a profound disconnect. This is not uncommon in the genre, but I had been so pleasantly surprised up to that point, that such a massive misstep was incredibly disappointing.

I was tempted to uninstall and forget about the game entirely, but I have since gone back and tried a different path using a flowchart. I am currently enjoying the Lilly arc, and I'm glad I came back to it. Some people have claimed that using a flowchart is how the game "should" be played. However, this can only be a compensation for bad design. Why would you want to shuttle players off to a terrible ending and a bad aftertaste when so much of the work's best moments are yet to come? Interactivity in a VN may be limited, but why not allow players/readers the chance to tilt the direction of the storyline towards the people that most interest them, instead of making these paths determined by what, at the time of choosing, may seem like completely arbitrary decisions?

The point of this thread is not to bash the game. No one needs to defend it as a whole. It's a good piece of work. I enjoyed it, and I'm glad I went back to it. I just wanted to point out that I very nearly walked out on the game with a terrible taste in my mouth, despite there being so much value in what was still on the table. You may choose to see this as a failing of mine, rather than the game, but I think that would be ignoring a significant share of player experiences (a simple search tells me that I'm not the only one). I don't know if there is another work like this coming in the future; I really hope there is, and I hope it does a better job of both handling the interactive element and letting players actually get to see the best parts of the game.

Thanks.

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3431
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by brythain » Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:23 pm

I think that you get that ending only if you fail to commit to any of the other possible commitments (haha, committees?) — it's an interesting lesson, if a shocking one. Glad you survived it and persevered!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
Mirage_GSM
Posts: 5775
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:08 pm

Well, two of the choices that lead to the Kenji ending are quite obvious and whoever chooses those has only themselves to blame.
The other two - the one with Lilly and Rin and the one with Misha in the classroom - are quite easy to misinterpret, and I agree that those leading to the bad end are a bit unfair.

However it's not as if you've really wasted hours of playing, since on a replay you can skip over scenes you've already seen, and it shouldn't take you more than a few minutes to get to the point where you made the "wrong" choice.

Also, I'm not sure if you've read many other VNs but there are plenty out there with choices that are WAY worse than this one, e. g. the shark ending in Tsukihime: You have a choice whether or not to stay in your hotel room while the hotel is under attack by vampires, and if you decide to leave, you get eaten by a shark in the corridor... (no joke)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

Hinotori
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:26 am

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Hinotori » Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:16 am

Yeah, upon looking at the flowchart, it looks like the hesitance to commit to joining the art club is what MARKED ME FOR DEATH. I also made the mistake of not standing with Lilly against Shizune, but the way the dialogue choice was framed sounded really weak, and I thought it might be seen as trying to hide behind Lilly rather than sticking up for her.

I realize that the time wasn't wasted, especially now that I've finished one arc and will likely go back for another, but it felt like it at the time. I had no idea how much of the game there still was left to play.

Speaking of finishing arcs, I liked Lilly's arc very much, although the "good" ending felt as if it was borrowed from an inferior story and tacked on. The whole I-have-to-stop-her-from-leaving trope is so painfully overdone and so not worthy of the rest of the material that preceded it. The neutral ending before it felt very... real, but neither ending gave much closure. Perhaps that's true to life, though I would have liked something... more. That being said, I really loved how Lilly was written and even the more "adult" segments felt thoughtful and genuine.

User avatar
Mirage_GSM
Posts: 5775
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Apr 05, 2016 5:55 am

I agree with your assessment of Lilly's arc, but the decision in the dispute between Lilly and Shizune is only a mistake if you want to reach Lilly's path. It's not something that will lead you to Kenji :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

Hinotori
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:26 am

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Hinotori » Tue Apr 05, 2016 10:25 pm

Well, if I had sided with Lilly, I would have bypassed the Rin question, which would have saved me from being pushed off falling off the roof. Damn you, Kenji.

I'm currently playing through the Shizune arc. She was the first person I took interest in, until it seemed like her arc was about being an asshole to everybody.

Hinotori
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:26 am

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Hinotori » Fri Apr 08, 2016 6:29 pm

So I finished Shizune's arc.

I enjoyed it, but aside from the two "adult" sequences, which both seemed somewhat out of place, I never really felt like it was a romantic relationship. The whole arc could have been about friendship, and almost nothing would have changed. The choice that decides whether you get the good or bad ending is also awkwardly flagged. I could see where it was going, but I understand people who were surprised to find out what "comfort" really meant.

I actually wanted to get to know Misha more. It would have been nice if she had her own arc.

The pacing is beginning to get to me. It was always a little slow, but some story beats and themes are so repetitive, that they almost begin to put me to sleep: how many times does Hisao have to comment in detail on how different Misha and Shizune are when it's so self-evident? That said, I'm still enjoying it.

One thing I like is that I see some profound development of Hisao himself as a character. In each of the two arcs I've read so far, he starts as the same person, but you can see the transformation he undergoes through his relationships (unlike in some less well-written interactive novels where the protagonist literally seems to be a different person entirely depending on the arc chosen). At the end of each story, he's a different person than he was at the start, but you can see the road he took to get there, and it seems fitting. It's surprisingly also nuanced (for example, I like how his opinion of urban life evolves quite differently depending on whether he spends time with Lilly or Shizune).

... this thread is kind of turning into a running commentary. I'm not sure if anyone is interested, but if so, any recommendations on which arc to try next?

User avatar
Mirage_GSM
Posts: 5775
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Apr 08, 2016 6:42 pm

Your points of criticism about Shizune's arc are what most others mentioned as well: Long-winded, the romance wasn't really that and "needed more Misha" :-)

As for recommendations...

Rin's arc is... difficult. If you're looking for some fluff after Shizune's path, I recommend doing Hanako next and Rin after that.

Personally I liked Emi's arc best, so if you are going to do all, I recommend saving that one for last.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

Hinotori
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:26 am

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Hinotori » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:06 pm

Well, finished the Hanako arc... lots of mixed feelings on this one.

Ironically, after my last comment about how I appreciated Hisao's consistency during different playthroughs, this arc's Hisao feels different than the others. He seems more dense and insensitive than ever before; it feels like it was written this way to (artificially) generate conflict in this arc, which is unfortunate. The adult scene was singularly uncomfortable. I don't agree with some other posters that consent isn't given, but how and why that consent is given (and Hisao's oblivious and reckless acceptance of it) is rather disagreeable. This arc also has, in my opinion, the worst flagged and most frustrating ending so far (besides the rooftop ending with Kenji). Getting a bad ending for simply calling it a day after Lilly leaves definitely seems not only rather unfair, but also causes Hisao to act even more bizarrely in the bad ending's last scene. It's incredibly frustrating to watch him blunder so badly and not be able to do anything about it.

All that being said, I liked the good ending, which was sweet and had, in my opinion, the right amount of romance and lightness. I never expected there to be a sweeping happily-ever-after, but it does well in giving a sense of hope and anticipation for the future.

I think I'm going to do Emi's arc next.
Last edited by Hinotori on Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Hinotori
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:26 am

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Hinotori » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:19 pm

(Unrelated to anything above, but can I just say that the nurse's theme music always makes me feel like he's about to attack me, and there's about to be a boss fight?)

User avatar
Mirage_GSM
Posts: 5775
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:38 pm

Hmm... I didn't think Hisao was particularly dense in this route - excluding the bad end of course.

I think the flag for Rin's first bad ending is even worse than the "call it a day" choice, because it deosn't really differ much at all from the oter two choices, but I agree that this one is not immediately obvious, especially since it removes all possibility of getting the phone call to Lilly right.

Have fun with Emi's route!
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

Hinotori
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:26 am

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Hinotori » Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:47 pm

I think Hisao's behavior in the adult scene with Hanako was especially dense, and his slowness in realizing that fact didn't help. And then there's the bad end, which... yeah.

Anyways! All done! 98% Complete, which is good enough for me.

I enjoyed Emi's route, although it did seem the most formulaic; the whole "person pushes people away because of tragedy" is a pretty common theme. However, it's handled well, and it's something that's frequently true in real life. I also liked the subversion of the White Knight trope; getting kicked out of her house in one path was a pretty shocking experience, in a good way. I admit, I was rather put off by Emi's personality at first. Of all the girls at Yamaku, she's the only one that comes close to outright causing you to drop dead, despite knowing goddamn well how dangerous Hisao's condition is. Once they got past that, I enjoyed the breezy flirtatiousness of their relationship, which is like fresh air compared to the seriousness of most of the other arcs. On the other hand, I found myself once again disliking Hisao quite a bit in this arc. More often than not, I sided with Emi in their arguments. You can't just force people to open up to you, and you shouldn't be angry at them if they find it difficult to do so, especially if you know full well that they have a serious trauma in their life. His jump to the conclusion that Emi doesn't really care about him is obviously an emotional reaction, but it still feels unfair and unwarranted. Also, he seems to be the last person on earth to figure out the connection between Emi's father and her trust issues. There's practically a blaring neon sign indicating this from the moment he meets Emi's mother at the track, and yet the dots don't seem to connect for him until she explicitly spells it out for him at the very end.

I'm glad I saved Rin's arc for last. You were right about it being difficult. It was by far the most complex and most challenging, but I think I also found it the most rewarding for those reasons. I struggled a little bit with what I considered to be an inconsistency in her behavior; her moments of lucidity felt too disconnected from her usual stream of consciousness, and so it was hard to reconcile what felt like two different kinds of people (for me, this felt like a problem with the writing, rather than the character herself). However, I can appreciate how hard it probably was to write for a character like Rin. I noticed that Aura linked to an Influence map which cited Lost in Translation as an ingredient; this makes perfect sense, and the central issue of communication is handled so well. I think this Hisao is the most developed of all the Hisaos, and his attempts to connect with Rin felt genuine. Their conflict, as a result, also felt more genuine than any other. I think this was my favorite arc. Lilly is the girl I felt closest too, but Rin's arc is the most impressively written.

Whew. That was definitely an experience. Funny how I almost quit the entire thing an hour in after that stupid f'ing scene on the rooftop. But I'm glad I didn't!

User avatar
Mirage_GSM
Posts: 5775
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:34 pm

Of all the girls at Yamaku, she's the only one that comes close to outright causing you to drop dead, despite knowing goddamn well how dangerous Hisao's condition is.
Well, she doesn't know quite how serious it is at the time...
getting kicked out of her house in one path was a pretty shocking experience, in a good way. I admit, I was rather put off by Emi's personality at first.
You know you can avoid getting kicked out there, if you accept the advice of others earlier (Mutou, Nurse, Meiko)
I recommend reading that scene as well; it's one I liked a lot. Shouldn't take very long either if you have a save game or skip through previous content.

The other missing scene is probably one of two scenes from Rin's arc. Not worth the bother figuring out the maze of choices to get there if you ask me.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

User avatar
Oddball
Posts: 2706
Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:05 pm

Re: Good Experience Nearly Ruined At the End

Post by Oddball » Fri Apr 29, 2016 8:06 am

You're the first person I've ever heard of that felt angry about getting the Kenji route the first playthrough.

Actually, you're the first person I've heard about that GOT the Kenji ending the first playthrough. I didn't even know it existed until I finished all the other routes then went back thinking “Gee. I wonder what would happen if I acted like a jerk and alienated EVERYBODY at the start.”

And I got my answer. You die. Because nobody loves you.

Perhaps a bit harsh, but at that point there really isn't anywhere for the game to go anyway. You've already burned your bridges. Granted, if might not have always been intentional, but I think Hisao's reactions to certain things actually give him more character than your average piece of cardboard or your average VN protagonist. Assuming there's a difference.
Some people have claimed that using a flowchart is how the game "should" be played.
These people are WRONG and should not be encouraged. Should you happen to meet one, feel free to punch them. Part of the experience is not knowing the consequences of your actions before you make them.

Most of your complaints about the Shizune arc match what others have said. It's generally regarded as the weakest route.

As for Hisao being somewhat oblivious in Hanako's route... I can kind of see where you're coming from there, but it works. Here Hisao is able to avoid his own problems by trying to reach out and help somebody else who's problems are worse.
Not Dead Yet

Post Reply