Foreword: Holy mother of God. FINALLY FINISHED WITH THIS CURSED GAME!!
Wow, it was a long month of trying to wade my way out of all this sticky mess that I purposely dived into (I chose this game on my own accord and refused to drop it no matter how horrible it was), and the most sad thing is that I’ll probably do this again; purposely choose a game that looks really bad then refuse to drop it for the sake of bashing it in the end and ultimately wasting hours and hours of my time.
I just realized that I’m a dumbfuck, as much as the people giving this game scores above a 5.
Well, since there’s only one November game I’m interested in, here I come, October releases! :D
Oh, and since I know that most of you won’t have time to read this long-ass rant, I’ll bold my main points that I want to make with this game. Hopefully, this saves you even more time and frustration from playing this game.
WARNING: Please note that this review contains intentional spoilers and
an increased frequency of crude language/ranting. Do NOT read if you know
you’ll be offended by someone bashing this game!
Title: アストラエアの白き永遠 (Astral Air no Shiroki towa) [Lit. Trans: The Eternal White Astral Air]
Release Date: July 25, 2014
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v12984
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=779719
Game Type: Sci-fi novel (?) that doesn’t make fucking sense and mixed with overdose of convenience.
Summary: Riku is an orphan of the Chronos Group, who are actually agents in disguise and known as “Elfin”, or individuals with supernatural powers. With this power, Riku as well as his group consisting of Rinne and Hinata are deployed in the mysterious town Tsukigasaki with one main mission: Protect the Leader’s daughters: Hazuki and Ochiba.
In this town full of mysteries, including the “gentle snow that never piles up”, Riku is ironically assigned to live with two girls in their own home. With a bit of misunderstanding, but ultimately enough sacrifices on both parties liberates Riku from having to sleep on the streets.
The group also have one more mission: to secure and protect anyone who also “awaken” into an Elfin, aka, someone with superpowers. This strange phenomenon is unexplained and occurs rather frequently…
Things start to get complicated as a rival group with similar motives named “Valhalla” join the fray, and its powerful member, Kotori may block the progress of the team.
Then there is the mysterious girl named Yuki… What exactly is she?
Riku is in for some surprises at his old hometown, in the Eternal White Astral Air.
Story Length: Fucking long as hell (I didn’t keep track of time).
Jokes aside, it was about 50 hours, approx. 3-4 times the average time I spend on a single game
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: Usually, bad games aren’t that long, so the pain is generally really quick and goes away fast.
Now imagine having that pain for over 30 hours straight. Seriously; I wouldn’t have minded if this game had the quality of White Album 2 or something, but what the fack man…
And this stuff repeats itself, too! THE SCENES ARE SO UNNECESSARY AND I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT. I WASTED SO MUCH TIME!
Character Design Rating: 3/10
Story Rating: 1/10
Protagonist Rating: 0/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 2/10
Look at those ratings: they’re not just “worse than previous games”. They’re one of the worst games I’ve ever played.
Favorite, I believe, was trying to piss me off with this game, and I’d have to commend them for actually succeeding. Trash plot with baseless-symbolism and chuunibyou words thrown all over the place, and all the poems don’t even connect with the main plot as a deus-ex-machina style story takes over the true route. Even in the true route, there are unexplained elements, and as I’ll get to later on, everything was just rushed in the end; no effort to help the reader understand what the fuck just happened in the last 3 hours of Yuuki’s route, and absolutely no form of reasoning as the game “kills off a character, bring her back, then kill off the protagonist, bring him back, and eliminate a heroine”.
(Fucking dead serious that’s what happened)
Just as cheap as how this snow-ball fight is
Heroines with its respective subcharacters completely overshadowing them wasn’t a good trait either, and how the protagonist is pretty worthless in the entire game or how there’s never him in solo-action was definitely something that brought down the protagonist score to 0. If he had a superpowered or a hidden side that requires “a certain something”, then that would’ve saved this score quite a bit. Even in the true route, he is the emotionless, colorless, and worthless derphead who just happens to be the center of the story.
Protip: Protagonists need a monologue. This game doesn’t have enough. Most of the lines are between heroines and do not even involve Riku. This makes it as if Riku isn’t really important in the overall story, while it’s the heroines who are the real deal (AND IT’S NOT WHAT DA FAAAKKK). In essence, he seems like a third-person watching this story, and not a first-person living it. Then there’s girls (of all ages *coff*) becoming close to him for really no reason at all.
The oh-so-weak protagonist with very little role in the story.
At least until he’s made to randomly fall in love with the heroine.
Story also gets a huge drop from all the goddamn convenience (This will be explained later), as well as being ridiculously slow. There’s no impact (or shock factor as I call it as well), and most of the things happen doesn’t seem natural; it’s so obvious that someone was pulling the strings from the behind (aka, the story flow was very unnatural probably because the writer sucks. In other words, very poor transition). Lastly, it was EXTREMELY predictable. Even the true route is extremely predictable, and 90% of the game was me just CTRL’ing and thinking “Yes, I fucking know what’s going to happen, just show it to me and be done with it”.
In addition, the romance in this game sucks. Both the heroines and the protagonist randomly fall in love, and especially with the fact that the protagonist never really seems to have a “protagonist moment” within the entire game, this was something that brought down all three scores, and another factor that caused a 0/10 for our protagonist..
It was so horrible that I was actually expecting a shimai-don plot here
What I find really unfortunate about this game is that right now, the “overall score” for this game is a 2. However, that would have easily risen to at least 5 or 6 if the game actually chopped off EVERYTHING except for Yuuki’s route at the end. What does this imply?
1) Yuuki’s route was pretty average, despite being the “best portion” of the entire game. So all you dumbfucks giving this game any higher than a 5? Learn to rate games. I’m a dumbfuck myself for even playing this game to completion, but at least I’m not giving others the wrong impression.
2) The other routes throw words or scenes around that contradict with the true route, or at least have something that degrade its quality.
I admit that the ridiculous length was one of them, but how unnatural the characters were in each route was another thing that really bothered me.
Right. Let’s go in the order I cleared the characters. (For the reference, I hated every one of them)
First is Ochiba. Your typical tsundere character who doubles up as the Yamato Nadeshiko archetype in this game. As fate unwinds, Riku is forced to live in her house, and as obvious as it is, he is not welcomed. Then the story conveniently has him “rescue” Hazuki, who is Ochiba’s younger sister which gains their trust at least a bit.
My rant about Ochiba’s route was that instead of the heroine herself, Hazuki seemed to be the main heroine: most of the conflicts in Ochiba’s route involve Hazuki, and not Ochiba. Hazuki seems to have MUCH more impact than her older sister in terms of humor and setting, and even though the climax doesn’t involve Hazuki at all, Hazuki is actually the initiator of it in the first place.
Yeah, not a good design when the heroine falls behind a subheroine, right?
I present to you: the actual heroine for Ochiba’s route!
Then I have to complain about how the two siblings fail to realize (at least Ochiba herself; Hazuki may be too young to understand) that it’s their “worthless father” who’s been working hard to at least financially support them for at least a few years. Both Ochiba AND Hazuki fail to realize that the person most traumatized by their mother’s death is none other than her husband, and act really ungrateful in the sense that they expect their lonely daddy to suck it up and adapt to THEIR environment.
Seriously? Spoiled kids these days…
Then we have Ichika (Holy shit, by the time I was writing this review, I forgot some of these characters’ names). Originally having nothing to do with our protagonist and only a classmate, their interaction starts when Ichika becomes an Elfin herself. This interaction is attached with the protagonist CONVENIENTLY being placed near where she is, and saving her depressed behind from drowning.
And thus begins the oh-so-convenient plotline of a random girl falling in love with her classmate and has the two getting all up in the business of Valcan and one of its researchers who also happens to be Ichika’s older sister.
As obvious as it is, the entire route is about how Ichika wants to get along with her sister more, and how her older sister was also being “tsundere”. Please, CTRL key, don’t break on me. I freaking need you.
Kotori is next in line, and is actually introduced to be associated with the rival group called the “Valhalla”. Regardless, her route is absolutely filled to the brim with the OMG-ANOTHER-FUCKING-SETTING-WHERE-THE-HEROINE-IS-WAY-STRONGER-THAN-THE-PROTAGONIST-SHIT-AND-HOW-SHE-ALWAYS-KICKS-HIS-ASS plot.
Yeah, that wasn’t good, especially with the reasoning that the only reason why the two start hanging out is “because we’re similar” and they want to know about each other. You ask how they “get to know each other”?
Yes. In order to know more about each other, Riku and Kotori go on these series of “battles” which are extremely anticlimactic and horrifically long as hell and always end in “being a draw because neither of the two wants to win”
What. The. Fuck.
The route ends with the two being forced to have a “grand finale” (aka, make a certain decision that either of them should win or lose)
AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW?! THEY DECLARE ANOTHER DRAW AND THEN HAVE SEX THE END
(At this point, I wasn’t really mad, but just laughing about how ridiculous this was)
Also, what the hell is up with all these tsundere heroines? Does Favorite think anyone other than low-self esteem losers would actually appreciate characters like this?
(Corona and Rinne available after Ochiba’s route)
Next is Corona, and even worse. Here’s a robot girl who’s “trying to become like a human” because she’s actually the predecessor of a series of robots that will be sent into space. Her training involves living the life of a normal human and try to become like them so that her “reactions” can be recorded and used as reference when creating future robots.
The irony of Corona’s route was that it was within her route that Riku was a bit more colorful, interacting with Rei, who is Corona’s friend. Riku never really shows annoyance or emotions within the entire game EXCEPT for when he’s getting pissed at Rei, and that’s pretty bad planning on the game’s part.
Regardless, Corona’s route sucks mainly because the game freaking flat out says “Oh, Corona’s actually a human AND an Elfin!” right out of the blue with reasoning that whenever Corona came into direct contact with Riku, he could “feel the warmth of a human being” within her. Yeah, great half-assed planning there. You couldn’t handle the archetypical robot-created-to-be-sent-into-space plot and changed it so you won’t get sued by companies like Purple Software, probably.
Then the companies have the nerve to try to force a climactic ending in the end of the route, where deus ex machina occurs again.
‘Kay, on to the next route!
Rinne is the second to last of the heroines, and pretty colorful in terms of personality. Most of her comical scenes involve her “wanting to get back into the kotatsu” or stuttering because she’s inquired about her affection towards Riku.
Nonetheless, the game makes it rather obvious that Rinne is Riku’s younger sister from very early in the game. What the game DOESN’T reveal, however, is why the hell Rinne falls in love with Riku, and vice versa, as well as the sibling taboo never happening in their route.
Rinne’s route is probably the most boring in this sense, that she pretty much mopes about how Riku might leave her if she tells the truth about their relationship, and there being literally nothing else after she finally tells him.
Admittedly, though, I enjoyed Rinne’s powers when fighting with Riku; this was probably the funniest moments in the game.
Like Ochiba, however, Rinne is a tsundere.
Tsundere imouto characters? Get the fuck out.
And here comes the magical loli-fairy / winter spirit / elf / whatever you want to call Yuuki.
As expected of the true route, Yuuki’s route is best out of all of them. However, as I stated above, it’s not even reaching decency in terms of story, due to massive amounts of flaws in her route (which is also in the entire story, but I’ll get to that later)
The first encounter that is shown to readers is Riku and her meeting on the bridge between the “Old City” and the “New City” (which, by the way, has no fucking meaning despite how much attention they give to it). From then on, someone similar to her except a bit older appears at the end of each route “congratulating” Riku for his efforts
to get into the girl’s skirt to become accustomed to his new life.
Yuuki’s route is all about trying to solve everything that the game showed the readers up until now, in one single go, which happens to only be slightly longer than the other routes. So in essence, it’s trying to answer the questions from 5 of the routes in a single one. That’s not good planning; everything seems rushed, and in the end, I had no freaking idea what the hell the script was blabbing about as (stated before) the deus ex machina shoots out and creates another horrible story line.
Yuuki herself is pretty much your average ignorant-about-the-world loli-heroine with a past that the game company tries too hard to make dramatic, and instead makes it comical instead because it’s just so predictable and random. She eats snow, loves playing around, and can magically disappear around people who she doesn’t feel comfortable with.
Fuck yeah. I can jump into space in less than a minute without a rocket and breathe. How badass can I be?
Sexual Content: Low
Convenient. Convenient AS HELL. Most of the plot is actually well designed, but oh-so-convenient. I get that this is a fantasy setting and all that, but there’s a limit to how convenient the protagonist earns the affection of characters that actually has nothing to do with his ability. All the events that happen and how the character interaction is created are convenient and unnatural, and in the true route, the game skips months and even years with just a single phrase. (Couldn’t you have done that for the other places too, so you could at least save me some pain?)
Fantasy setting also apparently gave them the excuse to use “their own logic” (aka, include their own logos, ideals, and pretty much even physics). Snow without any clouds that do not “stack” in winter and still fall during summer, despite how other places it’s not… It even goes as far to suggest that it was “all a dream” (Hmm? Where have I seen this before?) as characters are manipulated irrationally to make the story… It almost felt like the characters were just puppets in a play, rather than actually being representative of an actual human emotion/ideal.
Simply put, characters seem very very fake.
From the left: Annoying Bitch, Tsundere Bitch, and Nosy Student-Council-President-who-has-self-esteem-problems
Then there are some of them that sounded like a chuunibyou (aka, Kotori)
H-scenes… they’re actually used relatively smoothly. This actually took me by surprise to see that this game DOES have some relatively “dark” H-scenes where the characters will actually have sex because they’re lonely. I guess because of this, the sex scenes weren’t really unusuable, but helped me sympathize with the heroines themselves. Still makes me rather scared that my dick wasn’t even remotely erect while skipping though them. (I swear I’m not impotent!)
Humor is, however, seriously lacking. They may have tried to make a drama, but not only was this unbalanced and imperfect, the humor they tried to add in was very weak (usually relating to jokes about Riku’s pedophila) and repeated excessively. I may have been slightly more generous if they cut out with this stupid humor they tried to include)
But in all seriousness, I really need someone to tell me why this game scores any more than a 5.
Finally, let me get to something that really killed this game: predictability and anticlimaxes. By itself, these two elements aren’t that big of a deal, but as a combo, they exert a synergistic effect that brings the score down and annoys the living fuck out of players including myself. It’s okay if the game is predictable, but climactic–even if I can see it coming, I tend to enjoy the climax when I get there. It’s okay if the game is unpredictable but anticlimactic–since I can go over it again and try to find a reasoning for which why I couldn’t predict the ending.
Now the real trash is when it’s neither: predictable and anticlimactic, because you already know that it’s going to suck, and know this earlier than you think.
As if to top off the wound with salt, there was absolutely no explicit form of moral or theme presented in the game either. There’s the implied “Family is important” theme, but considering how the “parents” do not even appear that often (with the exception of Ochiba’s dad), and how it’s always the child’s (or at least the heroine’s, since Ichika’s route doesn’t really have parents involved) misunderstanding that causes the boo-hoos and the shitstorm, I don’t think it was even meant to be a theme.
Affection for the Characters: Low
CG Score: 3/10. Sorry, the CG sucks. I don’t like the lack of depth and the bland coloring; the only reason why this score gets a +2 from what would originally be a “1/10” is because of the large variety and pretty detailed SDCGs (they actually use speech bubbles)
Music Score: 9/10. On the other hand, the music was quite excellent, and varying in genre. Very nice!
Addictiveness: This is worse than Saga Planet games. At least they have hilarious characters; this game doesn’t even try to be funny. Think of how much I hated SP games and then about the chances of playing this one.
(On that thought, if you wanted to torture me, a good way would be to tie me up in a chair and put this game on auto-play… I’d probably bite off my tongue first though)
Conclusion: Combined with how convenient the plot was, as well as how unexplained symbolism and phrases were thrown around all over the place, and the very-fake looking characters, topped off with predictable + anticlimactic story, this game is one of the worst games I’ve played. Bad games usually have NO plot, or NO climax, but remember that games that have these kinds of “half-assed” design, incomplete explanations, and poor planning (especially in the true route) will be the ones to fare much much worse than the “bad games”.
What, you’re actually surprised?
So there you have it: the entire rant I have for this trashy game. In total, I’ve spent about 50 hours playing the game (spanning over what’s about 2 months) and about another 5 writing this review. It’s taken enough time from me, and I’m done with it as well. Time to trash it.
On the other hand, though, I’d like to ask for your opinion. I’m going to play another Favorite game just so I can see if this was just a bad selection, and there’s a better title out there. Otherwise, I’m trashing all the Favorite games I have in my backlog and moving onto others. I have a self-imposed rule that I try at least 2 of the company’s games before I declare them to be “bad”, so if experienced players can give me a recommendation to your “best” Favorite game in the comments section, I would really appreciate it. Thanks!