Foreword: So with Finals coming up, I think this might be one of the last games for a while. Even during Thanksgiving, I’ll have to study Contraception, Pregnancy, Erectile Dysfunction, Menopause, and various other weird shit that my school makes me learn on my way to my degree.
It’s also been really stressful for me outside of school, with my landlord being a real asshole and things not going well with work… I’ve been playing quite a bit of nukige recently which was probably just to relieve my stress, lol. Sorry if I sound really bitchy like a girl on her periods because that’s pretty much similar to what I’m going through right now
Let’s get right to the review! I’m going to shamelessly post this review without permission because most of his points match up with my own thoughts… Except I have different views than him (of course).
Title: セミらミスの天秤 (Semiramis no Tenbin) [Lit Trans: The Heavenly scales of Semiramis]
Producers: Caramel Box
Release Date: June 27, 2014
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v14760
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=801607
Game Type: Dark Reality-based mystery novel with psychology themes
Summary: Reiji would be a normal guy if it wasn’t for his mental condition where he hears voices in his head. This often causes people who don’t know about the disease to think he’s actually talking to himself, but in reality, minus this trait, he is a nice person who is well-known in class and has a few friends.
This soon changes with the introduction of a girl named “Ami”. With red hair that becomes a lasting impression for our protagonist, the voice in his head warn him about this girl to be “dangerous”. Ami, however, seems to get along with the rest of the classmates and quickly becomes popular. Reiji thought he wouldn’t have anything to deal with this girl… Or he thought…
However, as fate unwinds, Reiji soon meets Ami on his way back, and she tells him that she lost her keys to her apartment. Being the nice guy Reiji is, he invites her over. As the two relax and chat, Ami suddenly asks Reiji to take her virginity, because otherwise, she’ll lose it to her uncle whom she hates with a passion.
Reiji obliges, and soon finds that this was a trap for Ami: she records photos of them having sex and will spread the rumor as Reiji raping her if he doesn’t let her stay with him. This begins the story of Reiji and Ami, and the members of the Fortune-telling research club.
I genuinely thought Hibiki would be the heroine of a “true route” or at least associated with Reiji’s “voices in the head” after she accidentally pushes him down the stairs, but nope.
Story Length: Slightly Short (15 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Hard
Comments: The thing about this game is that unless you select the “Digestive Play” (aka, the noob’s version of the game), there will be bad routes for you to go through, as well as a “scale” that appears and represents how “bad” or “good” you are playing Reiji. In reality, this is labeled as “Chaos” and “Law” respectively, but we’ll get to that later.
Ultimately, the scale actually doesn’t really have a meaning except when you’re going through the bad routes or aiming for Ami or Eru’s storyline, so that was kinda iffy in itself. On the bright side, it DOES change the characters and plot that appears in the later portions of the game, which was interesting.
Aka, this scene only appears if you have fulfilled certain requirements, despite being considered a “common route”
Character Design Rating: 4/10
Story Rating: 6/10
Protagonist Rating: 3/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 4/10
Rating Comments: So overall an “average” game, except one should definitely note that the story was indeed very interesting. The beginning started out powerful, and immediately caught my attention with Reiji’s “voices talking to him in his head” feature. However, as I will have found out, this has very little effect on the overall story, which thoroughly disappointed me.
Romance also sucks in this game. No seriously. I quote one of my friends: “It’s not even subjectively bad, it’s objectively bad”. As with the previous reviewer (whose post is added in the Foreword above), this game would have done really well if it lopped off all the H-scenes (except for maybe the few with Ami in it because it was relevant to the story) and simply made this a book/mystery visual novel instead.
Characters were also relatively bland and “meh”. Most of them are poorly designed in their own route, although they ironically all play relatively important roles in the common route (I’ll get to this in each character summary). Climax was highly rushed and felt incomplete, and a “flow” wasn’t even present in the last bits of the game.
The protagonist score actually RISES from the presence of the bad routes! This is the only place where Reiji actually acts due to absolute chaos or absolute law (hint hint), and essentially causes him to be a murderer. He is pretty much worthless throughout the game, and these “bad routes” are the only places where you can really see him in full action, albeit in a state of craziness.
If you can’t expect what happens after this… I have nothing to say to you
Right. On to summaries:
First is Ami, a mysterious girl who has sex with the protagonist and blackmails him into letting him stay at his house. In retrospect, Ami seemed more like a protagonist Reiji was, since she is pretty much the initiator for every single freaking plot present in the game. She influences the other heroines more than Reiji ever did, and the only reason why Reiji was in there was because of the need for sex scenes for other heroines and…. Ami’s route itself *hint hint*
I actually love this kind of heroine design: sly, intelligent, but ultimately caring for her friends. Ami is labeled as a “demon” by the people around her due to her personality, but it’s actually possible that this heroine may be the character who is most “good” than anyone else, including our “Saint” heroine (which I’ll get to in a bit). However, you should note that because of her design as a “demon”, she will definitely fulfill that role in one of the routes *hint hint*.
For this very reason, I was somewhat able to enjoy Ami’s route, both the good and the bad ones. If anyone wants to play this game, but don’t have the time, I would really suggest playing those two routes (Ami’s good and bad routes) only since they contain the most amount of this game’s theme and impact.
Ami seems to have an ultimate goal, and she will literally stop at nothing to do so. Her actions and words point hatred towards someone, and it might be shocking to the readers to realize the extent that she’ll go through to fulfill that goal.
Next is Eru, the so-called “Saint of Ice” due to her very unbiased personality able to be calm at even the most dire moments. No one has ever seen her raise her voice or frown… until Ami comes along. Essentially, you have here pretty much oil and water; one is raised in a religious family and taught to comply with various regulations, while the other was raised in a troubled family and had to learn to live her own ways. Despite this, I really wouldn’t say that Eru’s childhood was full of sunshine and lollipops either: her dad, who is supposed to be a priest, was having affairs with other women, and Eru specifically gives Reiji a recollection scene where she saw her dad having sex with some unknown woman.
For some reason, I really hated Eru’s route, because she was pretty much being controlled by something we often know as “law”, and way too adherent to it. It’s kinda like how you call someone the “Dog of Government”, which is a huge insult: same here.
The additional bonus irony is that this “Saint” actually makes some really poor decisions that ultimately kill people or put them in trouble. While she does feel guilt from this, she actually has the nerve to talk back to Ami who pretty much says “I told you so” and suggested something otherwise. I think this was supposed to be a symbolism of how “right” is not always correct, but it was quite a bad design on Caramel Box’s area (aka, they had better ways of presenting that morale).
Regardless, I hated her background story as well. Enough said about that.
Next is Touko, who is arguably my favorite character for being so lax and submissive (hue)
With her father as a writer, it’s quite amusing to see a daughter following her dad’s footsteps. While Touko herself never had the intention to become a writer, her first work was apparently so stunningly amazing that she was half-forced to write more and more novels. This often causes the poor girl to lose sleep (which happens to be her most favorite thing in the world), and gain the worry of Reiji and Ami.
Touko is Reiji’s childhood friend, and is shown to have affection for him in every route. Consistency guys; it’s beautiful.
Her story in the common route is all about her becoming a bit more assertive, and in a way, more devilish due to learning a few tactics on how to deal with people from Ami herself–it was quite interesting!. On the other hand, her heroine route involves her already knowing that Ami and Reiji living together, and her basically dragging Reiji to the nearest love hotel and confessing to him. Not fun.
Touko was mostly added for humor within the story, which I thought was really a waste.
Next we have Sunao, a girl who was pretty much the center of attention in the class before Ami came in. Cheerful and social-able, it doesn’t really seem like she has too many problems, but in reality, she does. Ami is the first one to realize it, and while Reiji is contemplating what Ami tells him, Ami marches right over and confronts Sunao with her own theory.
Sunao actually did not realize that she hated being the center of attention, despite being the initiator of many “hip” topics around their class. She comes to this realization as Ami introduces a game that Reiji and his friends play, and as the hype for the game spreads, Sunao finds herself isolated and alone.
This is when Reiji comes in and “consoles” her to an extent, and Sunao’s previous relationship with Ami convinces the popular girl to join the Fortune-telling Research Club.
Sunao’s route was just as random as Touko’s in terms of romance and climax–it sucked. Honestly, this kind of design is just so weird; it’s almost as if the writer just got tired of writing and was like “Oh, I’m done, here’s an H-scene. Enjoy”
Not really the best way to write, if you ask me :\
Last is Fumika, an underclassman who plays the loli role of the story, and ironically had a better heroine-specific route (at least compared to Touko, Eru, or Sunao) involving her family and how her mother and father would always argue. The game makes a good point at this time stating that Fumika and Ami are very similar in background, but their different reactions caused them to grow up differently (Ami is outspoken and cunning, while Fumika is orderly and reserved)
Fumika’s route actually has an exclusive plot unlike the other heroines in a sense she is “kidnapped” and locked in an apartment by her own father, who doesn’t even love his own daughter–he only cares about himself. Despite this, even this kind of route was boring since there was no climax and involved little-to-no protagonist in action like I expected.
Sexual Content: Moderate
Comments: It was actually a relatively darker title which I enjoyed, it does have your unavoidable rape scenes and violent/bloody scenes, and the shocking story. It’s definitely going to create an impact (although I’m sure if you’re an experienced galge/VN player, you would have seen worse), and that’s what a game needs.
I didn’t like a lot of things about it, though, which includes how the routes ended so abruptly and each heroine didn’t really seem to get enough attention to make this a galge. Common route was good, except I would’ve liked to see more explanation on Reiji and his “voice in the head” which leads him to madness sometimes.
One thing I didn’t really like was the “goal” that relates to Ami. She has this “goal” which involves her uncle, and the initiation of this story is pretty much stemming from this goal. However, what I don’t like is that in both Sunao and Touko routes, the respective heroines nose into Ami’s “goal”, and solves it via Deus ex Machina within literally less than half an hour of reading through the story. While this “goal” is pretty much explained in detail in Ami’s route (because it’s relating to her? duh?), it wasn’t done properly and again, seemed very rushed.
Touko confronting Ami about her “goal”.
Affection for the Characters: Moderate
CG Score: 6/10. Well, the lack of SDCG is what really killed this score, but I’m actually pretty favorable to Ginta’s art, especially with a previous game called Komorebi no Nostalgica, which I thought was very good. Dem hands tho.
Music Score: 4/10. Pretty dull on this part. Some tracks were nice, but I wasn’t too fond of the Opening nor its derivation tracks for some reason… Needed a lot more darker and chaotic music
It’s not like that red-haired girl walking past is anyone we know, right?
Conclusion: A below-average game from Caramel Box which is really unfortunate because the common route was really nice and strong; it’s just that the later parts of that common route and the character routes that just ruined everything. This would have been a lot better if it addressed and resolved the holes and questions in the story such as Reiji’s weird “voices in the head”, but otherwise, it would have been good to simply chop off the heroine routes/sex scenes and made this into a all-ages visual novel instead.
Small Spoiler: This game contains something very similar to Hapymaher.