Foreword: Oh my, the very first review for 2015? Better make this good!
I hope everyone’s having a great start with 2015, because I’m not. LOL
I just started school and 2 days into classes I already have the anxiety of being behind, so I’m just going “wtf” about how I can feel behind even though I only had 3 classes… This is going to be hell for me.
Ranting aside, let’s get to the review. A fairly decent game, it’s far from being a kamige, but it wasn’t exactly a bad game either. Simply put, a “meh” game. As the summary suggests, this game is considered a mystery novel, but the mere fact that the “mystery” element was solved rather quickly and effortlessly made this rating plummet. I’ll get to details later.
Title: 箱庭ロジック (Hakoniwa Logic) [Lit. Trans: Square Garden Logic)
Release Date: October 31, 2014
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v14924
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=806158
Game Type: Mystery Novel regarding “missing girls”
Summary: Arata is a normal student not associated with any clubs and spends his days in boredom accompanied by a weird classmate who seems to have mental issues and a hardcore masochistic underclassman. One day, he is called into the school’s student council office, where the president, Shizuku, asks him to investigate a strange phenomenon going around the city, where a girl becomes abducted every month.
While Arata refuses at first, Shizuku blackmails him with his embarrassing past, and upon the spur of the moment, he agrees to investigate this issue.
As he lay moaning and groaning, he is told that he can choose a “partner” to assist him with this investigation, and two girls step up to the plate: the hardcore-masochist underclassman Coco, and a mysterious girl dressed in a detective’s outfit named Kirika.
Story Length: Moderately Short (15 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Very Easy
Comments: Little choices to make, except that this game DOES have a “flow-chart” with the “locked routes” system, which pretty much requires you to go through all the subheroine’s routes before getting to the main heroines. One thing to caution is that once you finish a route and get a key from the heroine/subheroine, you must IMMEDIATELY go back to the Flow-chart or the key will not register. Rather annoying; but can’t do anything about it.
Oh, but there is a harem ending with these two main heroines
Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 4/10
Protagonist Rating: 2/10
Game Quality: Low
Overall Rating: 4/10
Rating Comments: A “meh” game which wasn’t too much of a surprise, I actually expected this “mystery” novel to have some satisfying endings, but that simply wasn’t the case. Instead, the story focuses TOO much on the background of each character, and while you may be hit with the feels-train in some parts of the story, that quickly got boring as well.
Characters were so extremely generic, but that “feels” moment somehow saved this score, while the story rating was decreased due to the entire game lacking that “mysterious” feel and instead topped with unnecessary icha-icha.
…and perhaps sex appeal. (Seriously. I know it’s the setting and all, but NUN-OUTFITS in this day and age?)
Protagonist Rating is pulverized primarily due to his lack of action in the investigation–the girls do MUCH more than he does, and the only real thing he does in the entire story is pretty much comfort the girls when the group finds out something shocking. This is on top of how he literally says he “hates Coco and Kirika” to falling madly in love with them in a course of less than a month, while in icha-icha, he pretty much calls the heroine “可愛い” endlessly, as if he was only pumping between the heroine’s legs just because of the heroine’s looks.
Let’s start with Kirika, one of the main heroines. Introduced quite early in the beginning, it is shown that she is either very intelligent, or rather stupid since she wears a detective hat and cape to school. On one hand, she seems to be sincere with the investigation, but with the out-of-the-ordinary outfit, it might even be seen as her simply fooling around. On the other hand though, Kirika’s personality seems fake since it can be so contradictory (e.g. She’s very calm and serious when solving the mystery, but gets excessively flustered easily when it comes to anything sexual)
Kirika’s route is the only time when the “mystery” is actually solved to the complete extent, and can be considered a “true route”. However, while the pacing of Kirika’s route was splendid, the climax was ridiculously poorly planned and somewhat ruined the good atmosphere the game created.
Second is Coco, and quite unlike our generically known “kouhai” heroine archetypes, Coco is a severe masochist. Most of the scenes involve her asking to be punished or tied up, and it’s shown very early in game that even the meeting of Arata and Coco involved a scene where Coco was tying herself up.
As the other ‘main heroine’, Coco also plays an important role as Arata and Kirika are embarrassingly lacking in social connections. Coco’s route mostly emphasizes how this cheerful girl can be so helpful in the investigation despite not having much intelligence.
Coco also has a relatively sad past of her own, which is generally a plus, but I would’ve liked it if the game gave a definite background to why she’s so crazy about SM-play. The game DOES mention this reason at one point, but it was said in a jokeful manner and unsure if it’s true.
On the other hand, I’m sure guys won’t have much trouble enjoying her H-scenes.
Right. Now on to the subheroines that you need to capture for the main story. This is Mana, a cute and cheerful waitress who works at a cafe with her dad who is also the Owner. Arata’s first interaction with this girl is when he and Kirika visit the cafe and order a coffee called “The Usual”.
Contrary to what would be expected, Mana also plays an important role for the story of the missing girls, and have a rough past of her own that prevented her from going to school and having friends like a normal girl. Her cheerful facade is only a protective shell, which Arata exfoliates as he works in the same cafe in Mana’s route.
All in all, Mana’s route was good, but heavily lacked impact.
Next is Shizuku, the Student Council President-type subheroine. She is the one who originally blackmails Arata into the investigation, and strangely knows of his black-box past despite Arata saying he erased all records of it. In her route, she confesses to him about where she found his black-box past, which was a good follow-up.
As a subheroine herself, Shizuku seems to actually know something about the missing girls, and this gets revealed first in her own route, then in Kirika’s.
Overall, Shizuku was never that important to the story, and she as a character says “あら” too frequently. Her haughty personality got really annoying considering how she’s not even supposed to be a tsundere character, and as obvious as it is, her route’s ending sucked.
Let’s get to Moemi, a 3rd year upperclassman who is apparently the “school’s number 1 wanted as a bride” due to her good looks, personality, and intelligence. Her involvement with the investigation was initiated with one of the girls missing being her friend, and the readers are given a comical relief at this point that Moemi will often hinder (unconsciously) the group and also cause them extreme amounts of stress.
Moemi is the least important than the other heroines regarding “the investigation” and involves a rather suddenly-revealed past that makes it rather hard to sympathize with the fake (hint-hint) heroine. Her route also had a great potential to be good, but I guess the scenario writer didn’t see that potential. Quite unfortunate, really…
Last but definitely not the least is Riru, a young child who Arata sees in the middle of a busy street one day which he believes is an illusion. However, Kirika confirms that this girl is indeed real, because Riru was once taken care of in the church that Kirika lives in. She was sent to a family, and was actually thought to be dead, as the news portrayed this family being killed in a fire.
Riru’s story is, arguably, the most shocking for me and directly involves some girls who were turned up missing. In this sense, Riru as a character was most consistent (aside from the main heroines) and had the most impact as the reader sees what exactly such a small girl went through her short life. Admittedly, my “loli” bias kicked in and I was hit with a torrent of Feels as I went through Riru’s route. Not surprisingly, it was the first route I cleared.
Riru is the only subheroine who does not have H-scenes for obvious reasons.
So yeah, prepare yourself to be hit with some Feels-train when playing this game.
Sexual Content: Moderate
Comments: So what I don’t understand about games with flowcharts like this is that the concept and the story do not match. Here you have locked scenarios so you have to go through a subheroine’s route first and get her “key”, but that Key does nothing except allow you to go into the main heroine’s route. Simply put, the forced playing order was nothing but a sad excuse to add in a worthless “system” as an effort to make the game look more interesting and complicated. In reality, you pretty much see the same plot twice, with the heroine, NOT Arata (you worthless piece of shit) who figures things out.
Hakoniwa (square garden) is a tool used by the more advanced psychologists, who can actually determine various information about the subject by observing what “pieces” they use or what shape/order they make the arrangements. Although it seems like a mindless child-play, it is specifically used to foreshadow Coco’s background story within the game.
As stated before, the story is quite decent. The mystery element had a great flow (although it could have used a bit more effort in the transition and player interaction), and the character design mostly received its points from the “feels” that it gave the readers.
Other than that though, the mystery element played very little role as it was solved rather abruptly without the protagonist doing much, and the same protagonist ruined the story with some bad traits of his own.
Affection for the Characters: Moderate
CG Score: 7/10. This artist is quite amazing with the CGs. It’s just that it lacks quite a bit of normal CGs
Music Score: 4/10. Nothing too special.
Addictiveness: Very Low
Conclusion: In a sense, this game seems like a well-designed galge which uses sympathy to gain affection for the characters, and contains a poorly plastered on a “mystery” theme just to make it have some plot. It was definitely nice to see some shocking story related to the characters, and it’s definitely a plus to have the story consistent across routes, but the story (both main and character-specific) can improve greatly.
ALLLLL ABOARD THE FEELS-TRAIN TO FEELSVILLE