Tag Archives: visual novel

From the Archives: Aselia the Eternal and the Balance of Story and Game

A few weeks ago, we spent this column discussing the reason why we play different types of game.

The answer is, of course, different for everyone, but in the case of visual novel fans, most people will cite “story” as their main motivation to continue — even if the actual “gameplay” side of the title is left significantly wanting in the eyes of some people.

Take the title My Girlfriend is the President, which we discussed a while back, for example — in that game, once you’ve chosen which of the game’s four “paths” you’re going to undertake, there are absolutely no decisions to make that have any impact on the way the story ends at all, and yet that does not stop it from being a hugely entertaining and satisfying experience.

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.

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Grisaia: Yuuji – The Boy Who Was Broken

The Grisaia series may explore its five main heroines in considerable depth over its duration and various routes, but ultimately, the central character to the overall narrative is protagonist Kazami Yuuji.

Yuuji is one of the most distinctive, memorable and unusual visual novel protagonists in the entire medium. Through The Fruit of Grisaia’s exploration of him over the course of the five heroines’ routes, we learn a few details about him and his mysterious past. If you had come to the series completely blind, this would have the effect of gradually shifting your expectations: what might initially appear to be a relatively conventional high school-themed ren’ai (romance) visual novel slowly reveals itself to be much, much more complicated than you might expect.

And then you come to The Labyrinth of Grisaia, whose “Grand Route”, also known as The Cocoon of Caprice, finally gives us some concrete answers about who Yuuji is, why he is the way he is and the circumstances that brought him to Mihama Academy in the first place.

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Grisaia: Amane – The Girl Who Learned to Say Thank You

The Fruit of Grisaia doesn’t really have a “true” route or “true” ending as such, since the important plot threads are scattered across all the different girls’ stories.

But if there’s one path that stands out as being of particular importance to the overall backstory of the series, it’s that of Suou Amane. Not only does her route give us some insight into protagonist Yuuji’s mysterious past, which doesn’t get explored in detail until The Labyrinth of Grisaia’s Grand Route, it also introduces us to an important secondary character that, throughout all the other stories, is only hinted at.

Consequently, Amane’s route in The Fruit of Grisaia is a good one to save until last, since it provides a good means of wrapping up that game’s story and a pleasing sense of “closure” to the experience. It also provides some important context for The Labyrinth of Grisaia’s main plotline and an exploration of, for my money, one of the series’ most interesting characters.

Oh, and it’s also worth noting, perhaps more than any of the other characters, exploring Amane’s character particularly benefits from playing the 18+ version of the series, for reasons that will become apparent.

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Grisaia: Sachi and the Maid’s Burden

When we first meet Komine Sachi in The Fruit of Grisaia, she’s introduced almost as a caricature: she plays the role of “the perfect maid” to everyone else at Mihama Academy, right down to wearing a maid outfit when she’s not in school uniform.

But it doesn’t take a great deal of perceptiveness to notice her behaviour isn’t what you’d particularly call “normal”.

Specifically, it’s apparent pretty much from the outset that Sachi’s unusually compliant nature and tendency to take things literally is something out of the ordinary. Protagonist Yuuji isn’t quite sure what the exact problem is to begin with, but it gradually becomes clear to him as he starts to spend more time with her.

“She resembles me,” he says at one point. “Organising her life around diligently following orders, she never allows herself to doubt them, let alone defy those who make use of her. And almost as an extension of that, her ‘private’ activities are little more than the bare minimum routines of daily existence. Looking at Sachi, I’ve been seeing myself… and the discomfort I felt was a reflection of my uncertainty about my own way of life.”

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From The Archives: Darkness and Scissors – The Horror of Corpse Party

If you have a PSP (or Vita) then you really owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of the magnificent Corpse Party from Team GrisGris, localised by XSEED. (Editor’s note: Since this article was written in 2012, you can now also get a version of the game for 3DS and PC, though note that these are slightly different to the version under discussion here.)

While initially resembling a top-down SNES-era role-playing game more than a traditional visual novel, it quickly becomes apparent that this is a game where story — and, more importantly, atmosphere – is king.

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.

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Grisaia: Yumiko – The Girl Who Learned to Be Loved

When we’re first introduced to Sakaki Yumiko in the common route of The Fruit of Grisaia, it’s clear that she is both troubled and likely to be trouble for protagonist Yuuji.

When Yuuji first attempts to introduce himself to her, she initially tries her best to ignore him, and subsequently goes to slap him when he persists. This eventually escalates into her lashing out at him with a box cutter whenever she sees him, a fact which Yuuji’s fellow students just shrug off as being “something she does”, because they’ve all been through it too.

Yuuji, being a certified badass, shrugs off Yumiko’s attacks without injury easily, and eventually they stop altogether, though she still proves herself to be a prickly individual who is generally unwilling to interact with others.

Except, of course, it’s not that simple.

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