Foreword: With exams seriously crushing me every week, this is probably going to be either the last or second to last review for a while (I have another game I’m playing right now). Let’s get right into the review. Pretty much another “average” galge, I have mixed feelings about the game because it had the potential to be “good”, but it didn’t turn out so well. Lump of Sugar’s tendency to be inconsistent across the routes is back, brace yourself to be hit with unexplained elements and despite not having too much hope for this title, I was yet again disappointed.
Despite this, it’s not as bad as some of the other Lump of Sugar games. While plot isn’t consistent, its theme is very solid and clear. I guess in that sense, this game was slightly enjoyable…? I also enjoy Lump of Sugar’s prime (and mascot) artist, who seemed to become even more proficient recently.
Title: 世界と世界の真ん中で (Sekai to Sekai no Mannakade) [Lit. Trans: Right between world and world]
Producers: Lump of Sugar
Release Date: January 31, 2014
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v13224
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=782219
Game Type: Romance Philosophy (?) Novel with themes of identity
Summary: Renri is a motherlike figure to the residents at Erudeshu (romanized spelling). Being the cook and cleaning “chief” (more like the only one…), his days consist of routine activities and sights. However, he believes that this will change with the addition of his little sister Kokoro, who is soon added to the story. As a semi-bracon, Renri is very pleased with his younger sister, who was actually very ill and frail. He constantly worries about her health, and has no time to spare for the strange diary he picked up during one of the cleaning days, which includes a key of an unknown origin.
Little does he know, that this key will lead him to the center of the world, where an object called “Celestial Globe” silently floats… simply waiting… for something.
Story Length: Moderately Long (25 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: While not straightforward, simple choices encompass the title and should prove to be no challenge for any reader.
This is a “ritual” where Minori’s personality switches as she taps her hairpin.
Note how this screenshot suggests that she no longer performs this “ritual”
Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 5/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 6/10
Rating Comments: No. This is NOT a half-assed rating. It’s just that I’m also confused to how I would even rate this, since some portions of the story was awesome, while some portions were really sloppy and unplanned. Perhaps it’s my bias towards LoS that I rate this slightly higher than “average” (5), but I would say that compared to other recent games, this title would still be slightly better for both story and character design.
Character Summary: Let’s get to the heroines! They are listed in the order I have cleared them, and should also be the order that you should clear them too, since it’ll make the best sense. (Okay fine… you just need to get Minori and Aira first =3=)
First up is Minori. As the heroine who is first introduced in the game, the reader can see that she is energetic and cheerful. Despite this, you can also see that she has a very different personality when she is in school (as shown later in the story), which is done by tapping (?) her hairpin before she enters the classroom. Her personality shift is actually pretty huge, to the point I’m impressed at the CV for being able to pull off both “traits”. Always trying to be of help to everyone as much as possible, she becomes very close to Kokoro due to this trait.
Minori’s route was actually pretty nice. Suffering with a syndrome similar to what I had previously (if you keep up with my posts, you should note that I mention my abnormality in one of them. /spoiler), her route mostly involves her being unable to sleep without Renri holding her hand (because she has nightmares), and soon realizing her feelings for him during this process.
While I do have that empathy-ish type of feeling for this character, it might be that I just love blue hair.
As with a good route, we have a bad one. Aira’s was unfortunately one of them.
More quietspoken than our previously presented heroine, Aira is seen to have little emotions. Most of her sprites reflect this design with little to no changes (of sprites) throughout the story, and it really only becomes more apparent within her route.
Nonetheless, Aira’s route starts off with her music box (Orgol? I don’t know how to spell it…), which has a song that Aira enjoys, but can’t remember much about. Strangely enough, almost everyone doesn’t know about it, nor has even heard of it… except for our protagonist, who recognizes it for some reason.
Perhaps because of this, Aira lets Renri listen to her song more often than others. She feels afraid to let anyone else hear it, despite Renri’s compliments, for some reason… which is revealed in her route.
The thing I really hate the most about Aira’s route is that despite having the theme of “singing”, there’s absolutely no insert song at least related to Aira. Seriously LoS? Out of all the designing you can do, you decide to simply leave out an important element in one of the routes… I look back at older games that have 4-5 insert songs for each character.
EDIT: Looks like the Maxi CD that comes with the game has Aira’s insert song. Strange how it appears in the actual game too, so it’s either LoS derped HARD or I didn’t catch it. I’m going to see if I can go through Aira’s route again to see if I can find it.
Third is Kokoro! Despite seemingly the main heroine, I wouldn’t be so quick to make that conclusion: her route is intertwined with Haruka’s route, and they seem to share the equal amount of the spotlight. Quite unfortunately, it is also within their routes where the inconsistency and unexplained element appears (rather bluntly, too…) so I couldn’t find myself able to enjoy their routes as much.
Nonetheless, this adorable loli character with white hair (…? I feel a deja vu) is the younger sister of Renri, and moves into the “dorm” within a few days after the story begins. It is shown that despite being siblings, Kokoro already has some romantic affection towards her brother, who has taken care of her when she was in the hospital.
Similar to her male counterpart, Kokoro seems to have a knack for cooking. Despit only being discharged from the hospital for a few days, she easily picks up cooking from Renri, to the point she makes even a recipe book for Minori and Aira, who learns cooking from someone younger than them. She uses this talent to bake cupcakes as her first “dish”, which is greatly enjoyed by the group–as they comment that it has the same flavor of “kindness” in Renri’s cooking.
Kokoro’s route starts with her memory being hazy. Despite her calling Renri “onichan”, she cannot remember any of their time together even as a child. Kokoro quickly disposes the hypothesis that they’re actually not really siblings, but given the harsh truth when she reads a letter that she wrote–addressed to her own mother saying the TWO of us will make it through.
While I did say that Kokoro isn’t really the central heroine, I’m going to contradict myself and say that her route is the only one where “time travel paradox” occurs, and there’s a deviation from the main story. This element causes the main inconsistencies and “unexplained elements” in Kokoro’s route.
Last is Haruka, an upperclassman who is so smart, that she has her own office with a shower room so she can stay overnight at the school for her research. Throughout the beginning parts of the game, she is shown to have her animal ears and a tail (which also wiggles occasionally), but no one says anything about it until Renri seems to have a “eureka!” moment where he suddenly realizes that Haruka is not a human.
Despite this ignorance, it seems that he’s not the only one–everyone else around him doesn’t realize that Haruka is slightly different than them.
Nonetheless, the theme of Haruka is “distance” (as suggested by the opening movie), where Haruka’s main research, which includes the Celestial Globe, deals with the “distance” between two points… more specifically, between two people. Despite this, when she actually uses the equations of her research and come up with an answer, they are all scratched out. (At this point, I was reminded of the Equation of the Gravitational Force) This greatly shocks the researcher, who is literally refusing herself unconsciously.
Haruka’s route goes deepest regarding the theme of the game (evenmoreso than Kokoro’s route!), but still seems greatly incomplete as the game simply concludes with The distance between two people is “Love” at the very end (really sounds half-assed to me…)
Oh, by the way, Labi from Hanairo Heptagram makes an appearance xD
Sexual Content: Moderate. Personally, I thought much of the sexual content within this story was unnecessary
Comments: A game with good character design, but a rather strange and unreasonable plot gave it this half-way score. In a sense, I’m actually really distressed to report that much of Lump of Sugar is becoming what I call a “charage” (with utmost distaste, too). This is really unfortunate because I really liked the Tayutama series from a long time ago, yet they fall so much from there…
Eh, I’m seriously just ranting now OTL;
There’s really little to say, since the quote “Great game but horrible design” fits this game perfectly–it starts out great, but then ruins the entirety with inconsistencies and unexplained elements. I’ll repeat this for like the umpteenth time, but games like this tend to be even less enjoyable than your nukige, which isn’t designed to contain a solid story.
Aira looks really nice with the dress… Too bad her route isn’t as good :<
I probably have the readers confused about what the hell these “inconsistencies” are, because normally people simply bypass them, or ignore it because the story was “so good”. Unfortunately for LoS, I plan on pointing out the flaws and faults in every single title, because I just want to show that contrast between games like this and kamige like Tayutama, which are, ironically, produced by the same company.
Affection for the Characters: Moderate
CG Score: 7/10. Good CG, but there’s also very little variation. At least the game includes normal CG opposed to many games being dominant with HCG
Music Score: 3/10. Little variations in the theme plus no insert songs, and I didn’t really like either the Opening nor Ending.
Yes, Kokoro. You can sleep with me :D
Conclusion: For the last time, a potentially awesome game is ruined by inconsistencies and unexplained elements. The latter was already present (to a large extent) from a title called “Gaku Ou”, which was pretty much saturated with them, but the inconsistency of this title stems mostly from a “time warp paradox” within Kokoro’s route, which was HIGHLY unnecessary, or at least unplanned. In that sense, what seemed to be the most insignificant route (aka, Minori’s route) was the “best” route in this game, because it has the steady transition of her falling in love with Renri, with the least amount of contradicting factors.
An adorable scene where Kokoro’s classmates follow her around after learning of Renri and her relationship