Posted by AidanAK47 on 27 May 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Game Reviews, Reviews by AidanAK47

It’s not often I pick a game up without prior knowledge. I abhor the act of pre-ordering and at least do a google search on the title to get a general idea of it’s overall quality. Gone are the day you walk into a game store and buy something purely on a whim or the box art. With the internet you can at least get an idea for what you are in for. Lucid9 is one of the few I pick up out of curiosity, partly due to the few steam reviews present were very positive and the fact that it’s a free game. I knew nothing regarding what it was about and my only previous contact with it is a vague recollection on a Fuwanovel blog post. So I thought that it’s been awhile since I played a genuine visual novel and I was itching for something different. This is the first part called inciting Incident of a series of visual novels planned however despite that the story in this is more or less conclusive despite a pretty big cliffhanger for a sequel. At least the mystery for this game is solved with just a few hints of behind the scenes manipulation to be addressed in later chapters. Besides the pretty big turn of events at the stories end you could leave off this one content. Provided you stop before the last scene. But anyway enough baiting, lets us move on to the review.

For the unintroduced, Lucid9 is a visual novel and no, that is not the same thing as an eroge or dating sim. An eroge is like a visual novel but features a stronger focus on pornography. Often you can tell the difference between the two by the game’s title or synopsis. While visual novels do feature hentai content, it’s much lesser than an eroges content. In many new titles it’s getting phased out completely. A dating sim is more of a game where the objective is to raise girls affection for you and improve stats which are normally not present in visual novels. The best way to describe a visual novel is that it is like a choose your own adventure book. You go through a story and are presented choices which can lead the story on a different path. Most of the time the paths are decided by which girl in the narrative you show most interest in and the route you take often has them as the main heroine. Today’s visual novel is an exception to that as their is only one route and the choices you make don’t have much of an impact on the overall narrative. I will also point out that this visual novel doesn’t have any hentai within it’s narrative. The story involves a series of disappearances that are happening at an high class academy which are the work of a serial killer. Our protagonist is a cynical snark mouthed student who attends the school and manages to get caught up in the case. He’s recruited by a private investigator as an assistant and the case begins to affect those around him. Slowly he finds that he has a growing talent for investigation and detective work. Admittedly the murderers aren’t put on full focus here as the story mainly is concerned with the development of the main character and how this helps him get over his own issues to finally put effort into doing something with his life. For a free VN I was surprised at the quality of writing, this author really excels at writing back and forth dialogue though it can make the characters too quipy at times. The story is really carried by the interactions between characters and it does manage to keep things interesting.

The characters on the surface feel like the run of the mill lineout for this kind of story. Even the school counselor comments that the protagonists life feels like a crappy anime. However there are some nice twists that make them more interesting. For example, one of the mains friends is a energetic guy who’s always trying to get him to join track. Much like an athletic character you expect he would be more emotional than intelligence. Even upon meeting him, the main character makes the same judgement but when he says he’s more into poetry than track the guy starts asking him about which poets he prefers while naming out a number of well known poets. At one point he was talking about his club getting new blood because he got new members and started verbally calculating the exact amount of blood based on a person’s average blood count. The best friend character also plays a rather stereotypical comedic relief but oddly enough has more to him that you would think. For example he starts up a club called the Happy club which is originally played off as a joke. However later it’s revealed he set up the club for students dealing with depression. Back on that school counselor, and he is by far the best character. He has the aura of a cool teacher who isn’t afraid to just outright tell you the truth instead of hiding things under sophistry. He’s quite funny and his role of counselling the main in therapy sessions plays a pretty key role in the plot. The girls generally also feel like they follow tropes what with a childhood friend, an ojousama, transfer student who also happens to be childhood friend, kuudere and the eccentric one. But there is more to them than originally shown though I argue not quite as much as the male characters. Rui takes the spotlight for main heroine and acts as a good foil to Yama’s snark. She’s in love with him though the main himself knows it but is unwilling to become romantic with her due to his own hangups and mainly seeing her as just a friend. He’s the one who knows the most about the protagonist, particularly about a troubled period of his childhood which even he has trouble recalling.

Shigure is probably the only girl in the game who isn’t romantically interested in the main character. More playing a mentor figure guiding Yama towards being an investigator after seeing talent in him on their first meeting. She’s smug and constantly puts down others and does have a case of “Older than she looks”. Overall she’s like a Sherlock Holmes character encouraging Yama to think outside the box. Shigure provides the closest thing to actually gameplay as well when she presents the protagonist with puzzles to prove his worth. Elizabeth I wasn’t too fond of at the beginning as she was far too stereotypical a character with her rich uptight persona. Though near the end of the game she grew on me as she stopped being as aggressive to the main and started playing off him. Akira and Airi are the weaker of the cast as Akiras depth is boiled down to a love triangle and Airi is a quiet girl with multiple strange talents. Being a free game I find myself feeling guilty for saying this but the artstyle is a little rough on the characters. Backgrounds looks great but I think the sprites needed a little more fine tuning to make it a little more presentable. Now, Tsukihime had worse sprites and I can think of other VNs with much more rough character sprites(Higurashi’s original sprites remain the winner of worst VN character art I have ever seen. Oh Ryukishi. Great writer, not too good artist.) I even do like the style of the art but I think there just needed to be some adjustments of character proportions and make them blend more with the backgrounds. The music is quite good and suitable though I wouldn’t say I found a tune worthy of sticking in my personal music collection. The interface is marvelous. Whoever designed that title screen did a fantastic job as it was the first indicator that this wouldn’t be a forgetful title. The menu screens and text box options look perfect. Considering that it’s a visual novel, performance is hardly an issue but I did have one point were during the theme park section, instead of a character sprite popping up i got a message in the corner mentioning which character sprite was supposed to show up. It’s something that went away fast but It’s a notable glitch.

There are of course negative things I can say about this game, for one the school life aspects can be overbearing at times. The biggest offender is a section where the group goes to a theme park and you must view eight events which act as character development for each person. It’s far too much for one point and it would have been better for these character development sections to be spread out through the game. It’s disappointing when the whole plot gets shoved to the sidelines for scene after scene of characters going on theme park rides while waxing some backstory. This is a time where you can feel that the game needs to contrive excuses to include each heroine at that moment. Another moment like this involves when the protagonist is going through an angst fit and one by one the girls meet him and cheer him up in different ways. Technically the scenes with each girl is optional but I decided to see as many scenes as I could considering their are not alternative routes. This didn’t really work as I saw the same repeat of a girl cheering him up and then him falling back to angst so the next girl could cheer him up. It made the main character somewhat unsympathetic and whiny. The main character’s worldview can become a bit juvenile as it’s more or less the “This world sucks” mentality of a typical teenager. But seeing as he is a teenager I am willing to let it slide. You may need some patience for the quieter moments(Which is almost a given for any visual novel) but when the plot kicks in then that’s when this story really shines. Let me say that this had one hell of a finale. It was let down a bit as the choices to be made to reach the true ending during this final encounter were almost impossible to get without trial and error. But boy was it nerve wrecking and twisted. The final showdown between the killer and the protagonist isn’t so much as a physical battle but rather one of mental endurance. This is the best part of the game and I consider it a worthy climax. However the epilogue that follows after could have benefited without the pointless segway into a dungeons and dragons game between the characters. It made the high from the climax lose some weight and I would have prefered if they shortened down the epilogue so as to end on a high note.

On reading information on their site I came to learn that this game took two years to create and was made in the spare time of the creators for a budget of absolutely zero. For that I have great respect for the creators and even think that they should have charged a price for it as I wouldn’t have minded paying for this game. This is a big achievement and one I say they should be proud of. This does mean I have no reason not to recommend playing this if you happen to have the time as it is free to download on steam right now. It was a very pleasant surprise and I am certainly looking forward to the later chapters. This writer has shown himself to have great potential and I hope he can grow to improve on the weaker aspects of this game in later chapters. After seeing the ending of this game I have only one thing to say to the creators. You evil bastards, you better get that next part out quick.


3 Responses

  1. Avatar Nic says:

    Just a suggestion, maybe throw a link to the steam page if you’re recommending it:

    Been a while since I tried a VN. I’ll give it a shot since it’s free.

  2. Avatar sushi55 says:

    Added it to my PTP, will give it a shot after I’m done with exams.

  3. Avatar nezumi says:

    i have been postponing the end of this game for a long time now

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