Nier creator Taro Yoko is particularly fascinated with death: not only the concept itself, but also how different people respond to it.
Yoko’s interest in the subject, as we’ve previously discussed, stems from a traumatic experience in his youth when he witnessed the accidental, easily avoidable death of a friend and discovered, to his surprise, that there was something oddly humorous in the moment as well as it being horrifying. Someone’s existence had come to a premature end, yes, but there was something fundamentally ridiculous about how it had happened; how sudden it was; and how everyone was powerless in the moment to prevent it from happening.
The inherent ridiculousness of death — particularly accidental death — is something that gamers have been familiar with for many years. And so what better medium through which to explore the concept itself — and what better characters to do so with than those that can’t die through conventional means?
Continue reading Nier Automata: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation
Among the denizens of the Internet, particularly those who are interested in video games, anime and other such nerdy things — especially those nerdy things that are a little outside the mainstream — there’s a strong trend of self-deprecation.
It’s not uncommon to hear people referring to themselves with something akin to “pride” when they describe their own awkwardness, their loneliness, their enjoyment of solitary activities over socialisation and the indulging of their passions in increasingly extravagant manners.
In practice, this sort of self-deprecation has a few different social purposes: firstly, to provide a shared sense of struggling against perceived adversity with fellow “outcasts” and consequently help to form something of a community; secondly, an attempt to prove to themselves and others that, despite what they may apparently believe and/or acknowledge to be their drawbacks, they’re comfortable in themselves; and thirdly, in some cases, simply to try and entertain others through voluntarily creating a sense of schadenfreude about themselves and their life.
Whatever the exact reason for it, it’s this sort of self-consciously lonely nerd stereotype that new episodic visual novel Games & Girls from the heavily Japanese-inspired German outfit Yume Creations fully embraces and begins to explore in its first installment.
Continue reading Games & Girls: Embracing the Stereotype
Nier creator Taro Yoko has some strong opinions about how to keep games interesting.
Last time, we heard how he felt that modern triple-A games were often fun for the first twenty minutes, but that he often became concerned these initially impressive titles would become tiresome after twenty or more hours. It was this mindset that caused him to design the original Nier with so many unusual features to it, and many of these — and more — have carried across to Nier: Automata.
Today, then, we’ll take a look at Nier: Automata’s mechanical aspects — and how Yoko’s collaboration with Platinum Games has helped him to realise his vision better than ever before.
Continue reading Nier Automata: Creating a Game That is “Unexpected”, That “Keeps Changing Form”
MyDearest’s visual novel School of Talent is in a similar situation to minori’s beautiful Supipara in that it’s the first in a series that doesn’t quite exist as yet.
In the case of both Supipara and School of Talent, the complete narrative work clearly exists as a concept that has been carefully considered, planned and fleshed out — just not yet explored from every possible angle. And in both cases, this fact doesn’t stop them from being highly enjoyable, touching and self-contained narrative experiences in their own right.
School of Talent is a little more up-front about its long-term intentions than the rather mysterious and ethereal Supipara, however, with that prominent Suzu Route subtitle on the first installment making it abundantly clear which of the girls on the cast the narrative is primarily going to be concerned with. And, while School of Talent’s overall cast of heroines is pretty consistently strong, the eponymous Suzu turned out to be a good focal point for this (potential) series’ debut.
Continue reading School of Talent – Suzu Route: A Song of Joy
The terms “visual novel” and “dating sim” are used somewhat interchangeably in the West — even by those who publish them — but in actuality, this isn’t particularly accurate.
Visual novels often involve romantic and/or sexual relationships as a key part of their narrative, sure, and dating sims involve a lot of reading text and making choices — but it’s in terms of overall structure that they differ quite significantly from one another.
Specifically, in a dating sim, you’re often given a lot more freedom in terms of how to pursue the your dream partner — and a consequent greater potential to mess things up entirely — whereas in a visual novel, you’re typically following a more clearly-defined, linear narrative.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.
Continue reading From the Archives: A Fine Romance
With visual novels having a lot more in common with conventional, non-interactive fiction than many other types of video games, it’s eminently possible for individual authors to give their work a clear sense of artistic identity and authorial voice.
Such is the case with Ne no Kami and Sacrament of the Zodiac, the work of Japanese circle Kuro Irodoru Yomiji and writer Fenrir Vier, who have made a great deal of effort to ensure that their work — and the world they’ve created — are internally consistent and true to their original visions.
In other words, unlike larger-scale projects developed by huge organisations, many members of whom have contrasting and conflicting priorities in development, the small team behind Ne no Kami was able to focus on giving their work a clear sense of artistic integrity rather than thinking of it as a “product” first, a creative work second.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to pick Fenrir Vier’s brain about the creative process behind the development of such a piece of work.
Continue reading Ne no Kami: Inspiration and Intent
For all the criticisms it’s possible to level at Final Fantasy XV, post-launch support isn’t one of them.
Square Enix has not only been preparing for the release of character-centric DLC packages focusing on each of protagonist Noctis’ companions, but also refining and expanding the base game into something that the company clearly intends to be a “platform” for substantial added content for some time yet.
The first of these DLC packages, Episode Gladiolus, is now available. Is it worth your time if you, like me, already sunk a hundred or more hours into Final Fantasy XV when it was first launched?
Continue reading Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus – Reinventing and Refining