Please note that this review will contain spoilers. Please read at your own risk!
Foreword: Wow… this game caught me off guard. Originally, I thought this would be a shallow chara-ge with no real plotline, but it turns out that this game is a hardcore philosophy novel. Essentially filled to the brim with existential theories, the game had me confused from the very first hour. However, I can conclude that this game was enjoyable, mainly because I could understand its main points, and even LEARN something from it.
“Learning something from a game”… adults may rant me out for this, but I guarantee that even parents can learn a thing or two from this game, from the struggle of the characters trying to cope with their past. Unlike other games where characters are obsessive of their past, this game shows each character bravely charging head-first into their problems, despite how they are displayed.
Finished in two days again, I’m proud to present you the review of Nekonade Distortion!
Title: 猫撫ディストーション (Nekonade Distortion) [Neko obviously means cat, and Nade means to “pat”, usually something smaller than you]
Release Date: February 25, 2011
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v4909
Game Type: Philosophy Novel
Summary: What is this World? What is Light? What is Family? These questions mock Tatsuki as he lives his frustrating life with family that always irritate him: His father who is an indecisive coward; his mother who is unconditionally hostile; his older sister who degrades him for his lifestyle yet does anything she wants to do… And his younger sister, who he loved dearly, passed away 3 years ago.
After dropping out of high school, each day consisted of picking up the 1000￥ left on the table for him, and going to the mall to waste time on essentially nothing. Tatsuki’s lifestyle is that of a person who waits slowly for his own death, while being afraid of it actually appearing in front of him.
One day, however, that will not happen. He will meet a man who seems to have mental issues that is apparently his father, a small child who has the power to control plants who is his mother, and a sister who is rude, but ultimately affectionate to him. In addition, his younger sister, Kotoko, will return, along with his pet cat, who he picked up in his loneliness, turned into a human being.
What is this World? What is Light? What is Family? Perhaps the answer to these questions are placed very close to you. You just need to open your eyes and look at it.
Story Length: Moderate (20 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Comments: Kotoko’s Route is last in line, and each route splits at the “Go to X person’s room”. Make sure to grab Yuzu’s route as well, by “befriending” Dentoku (the father)
Character Design Rating: 5/10
Story Rating: 4/10
Game Quality: Low
Overall Rating: 4/10
Rating Comments: The story itself was pretty slapdash. Yes, the philosophy element was very nice, but other than that, there was no perceivable “story” within the game, and most of it was illusion in the end. However, the game tries to hint that despite being an illusion, all of this is connected. This explanation is similar to “Alternate Universes” suggested by Quantum Theory.
Sexual Content: Low
Comments: Definitely not for idiots who want to simply fap to porn, this game will be very hard to understand not only if you didn’t have enough education, but also if you can’t read Japanese. Despite this, for the players who CAN understand Japanese to a large extent and have enough knowledge about philosophy, you’re in for a treat. This game gives you a large sense of appreciation to your surroundings, especially your family. It also makes you realize the elements I present below.
Tatsuki’s Mother, Shikiko! Don’t be fooled by her charming appearance; she also has a dark story that explains her being unable to touch meat or get close to fire.
In general, this game has very little comedy or drama. In a sense, I feel as if this game was meant to be a documentary. Quite unfortunately, no matter how good a documentary is, if it has no story, it will suffer the poor ratings.
There are several elements I’ve noticed while playing this game:
- What you see is your world. An infant will genuinely think his mother has disappeared if he has no knowledge of “material conservation”, meaning the item will not disappear even if it is hidden from sight. This theme is repeated over and over again in this game, which they take even further and argue that whoever you choose is whoever you “choose to see”.
- Alternate Universes can exist. Again, this supports the Quantum Theory, which I think is used to base this format of the game.
- Miracles are not really miracles. One of the quotes in this game is that “Miracles are something that comes to you without you noticing”.
- Just because you are family, does not mean you understand everything about each other. Quite apparent throughout the game, but it is possible to see that despite Tatsuki finding his “new family” rather annoying, he is very appreciative of them, quite unlike what he thought of them from when his sister died.
- Humans are dynamic. Another obvious element, but this game is “in your face” about it. One can observe that each family member’s personality or characteristic is stunningly different than what they were before, when Tatsuki saw them as “shadows”. (This means that Tatsuki chose this “new, crazy family” over his old one!)
Tatsuki’s older sister, Yui!
In most of the cases, Tatsuki ends up in a “different world” with the character he “chooses to see”. Simply speaking, choosing Gizmo (Ideal: Possibility; but remember that Gizmo is his cat) ends up meeting a human version of her and getting married to her. Choosing Shikiko (Tatsuki’s mother, Ideal: Immortality) will result in the entire family becoming trees in a Forest that does not die out even when the universe collapses. Choosing Yui (Tatsuki’s older sister, Ideal: Eternal) will send the two into a separate world, in a shape of a garnet, where Tatsuki and Yui enjoys their Eden.
Finally, there is a “breaking of the fourth wall”, where the characters will speak directly to the reader. It is the reader who chooses to see one character over another. It is the reader who watches over the outcome, and it is ultimately the “reader” who is labeled the “Outsider” and constantly tries to give Tatsuki his strange dreams in order to help him realize his situation.
OMG Gizmo is so freaking cute <333
Lastly, if you noticed that I don’t say much about Yuzu or her background, it’s because I hate that girl and her bitchy mom with a passion. Not only are both of them “self-proclaimed realists”, who tries to do things “acceptable to societies” (I call these people “whores of social standards”), Yuzu is a character that butts into the lives of others (namely Tatsuki’s) with the excuse that she’s a childhood friend. While it is obvious from the get-go that she has feelings for Tatsuki, her actions, as the reader will see, is not acceptable.
Affection for the Characters: Moderately high
CG Quality: Low
Music Quality: Moderately Low. I’m a fan of gentle string music that this game presents, but we’re talking about QUALITY here.
Addictiveness: Low. Despite me giving a favorable review of this game, I feel as if since all the themes are revealed, there’s really nothing else in this story. If it had a decent story, I may have come back to it…
Conclusion: Hardcore Philosophy Novel that I thoroughly enjoyed, and also recommend to players who think they can handle this kind of material. Great as a one-time read, but may be hard to understand. One can learn of many things, but must have an open mind and an appreciative mindset.