Foreword: Two reviews on consecutive days! Let’s do this! F’yeah!
So when there’s a new company with a decent looking game, my usual policy is to go through with it just to see if it’s going to be a gold-mine within a pile of coal. Generally, speaking, that really hasn’t really worked out to my benefit, and quite unfortunately, this game was the same.
It’s really disappointing and perhaps even more frustrating to see a game with amazing potentials turn out crappy than to actually play a bad game in the first place. Let’s get through the first game by Levol, Arcadia of November.
Please be warned that this review will contain INTENTIONAL SPOILERS! Please read at your own risk!
Title: 11月のアルカディア (Jyuuichigatsu no Arcadia)
Release Date: March 27, 2015
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v16342
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=836907
Game Type: Fantasy Novel with themes of jumping through time
Summary: Takuto is part of the “November” team who is responsible for making sure that the school property housing the all-powerful “Orb” is secured during the festival of Halloween. He enjoys working with his teammates on this project, and despite being relatively peaceful, it’s quickly shown that his mind is the only exception to this.
Takuto is aiming to steal the Orb. His powers are that he can return through time, and as he knows that the Orb will be displayed on October 31st, he makes plans and finally, on his 3rd and final year at this academy, his wish of stealing the orb and reviving his dead sister will be put into full effect.
Although this means that he’ll betray all his comrades of November and the school, Takuto doesn’t care. As long as Sion comes back alive, nothing else matters to him, and he’ll stop at nothing to take the Orb.
Story Length: Moderately Short (15 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Very Easy
Comments: Nothing big here; choices split off with obvious wording that pushes you either into the heroine route or continue with the story which eventually leads to the “Final True Route”. Afterstory for each heroine opens after clearing her respective route, but as expected, it’s just an additional H-scene.
Character Design Rating: 5/10
Story Rating: 3/10
Protagonist Rating: 2/10
Game Quality: Low
Overall Rating: 3/10
Rating Comments: Generally speaking, I absolutely love it when protagonists are “evil” as this game portrayed Takuto to be. It’s even a bonus that the guy is voiced! (except H-scenes) But even with this, his rating falls extremely as I’ll comment as I get to him.
Yes. Despite scenes like this, he still doesn’t get a good score.
Character design falls greatly due to many of the heroine traits not actually being significant, including both Fuka and Aira’s abilities, which were more fit for making the entire game seem like a charage instead of a novel that this game was trying to display. Another big con was that ALL of the heroine routes involve the protagonist’s problem either not being solved, or both the characters having an “Oh well” mindset to it. Simply put, the story makes the characters, especially the protagonist, apathetic about what they were working so hard for. Convenient.
Story rating falls the most. While the beginning has a great pace and a wonderful transition into the opening movie, the moment you’re out turning back time and being pushed into heroine routes, all that transitioning and flow is thrown right out the window as H-scenes literally appear 10-20 minutes into the heroine route.
Like how these “lovey-dovey” scenes appear almost right after you enter the heroine route.
The true route was also extremely convenient, with a LITERAL deux-ex-machina (HINT HINT) that solves everything instead of the characters. The conclusion is highly anticlimactic and unsatisfactory, so that left another bad taste in the mouth. Added bonus is how there’s no time-paradox solved within the entire game; it just uses its own logic and says it’s just how this world works when characters “carry back” memories when time is turned back. I see you people who are knowledgeable about physics and time-travel writhing in pain.
Character Summary: Do I have to? D:
Okay fine… Let’s start with Fuka, an underclassman who actually seems like the “central heroine”… but she’s not. In reality, she’s pretty much the one who falls for Takuto first, and shortly becomes a narrator during the intermission between the prologue and chapter 1.
Very friendly and clumsy describes this character well, which ironically contrasts with her having the most skill in cooking and housework within the four heroines available. From the beginning of the story, she is shown to have affection for the protagonist after he protected her from Ito and consulted her with various things.
With the powers of “Transformation” into a werewolf, there’s really only one time she actually becomes a wolf and the other times are just replaced with wolf-ears and tail which really don’t have a use. She does have increased speed along with this power, but that was pretty much it…
According to Takuto, Fuka greatly resembles his younger sister, and this becomes the main theme in Fuka’s route, how Takuto still can’t get over his younger sister’s death.
Alright, next on the line is Aira, a character even younger than our previous underclassman, and essentially two years younger than Takuto. As the game first introduces her, she has not yet been accepted into the school and was only a “Trial Member” to November. Despite this, the rest of the members welcome her heartily and eventually lead into her official joining the group as soon as she is accepted.
As shocking as it may be, Aira seems to have the same motives as Takuto, so the two actually end up cooperating. This is when Takuto learns of her powers to be able to tell if someone is lying just by hearing the phrase. In return, this power is also a “curse” on the girl so that she will feel pain and eventually die if she herself tells a lie.
Frankly, even in Aira’s route where Takuto gives up on the Orb, I wanted to see the two working together to figure out a way to erase Aira’s “curse”. However, I guess I wanted too much, since the writer simply has the two characters “dealing with it” as they did for pretty much everything else. Ugh, this pattern of leaving problems unsolved is triggering my OCD.
Then we have Kokone, who actually has a CV I’m not exactly too fond of. In addition to this, I didn’t find her to be that great of a character either, since all she was that one-character-who-is-really-scary-when-angry as well as that-one-character-who-has-a-lot-of-unexpected-cute-sides. These two archetypes made it relatively easy to predict her character and route.
Though it’s not really explained why she has this gun… I swear this lack of follow-up…
The twist is that Kokone actually has TWO powers instead of one like everyone else. The mystery of this is revealed later within the game as the reader can see that she is actually a twin, and her twin brother named Shingo died 3 years ago due to some unfortunate accidents.
Kokone’s route involves Takuto receiving a fatal wound during his quest which hospitalizes him for several days. This is when Kokone insists on taking care of him, but this only causes more conflict between the two characters.
Last but probably (?) not the least is Sena, who actually had a relatively favorable design since at the near end of the story, she turns around and decides to side with Takuto. This can be slightly surprising since Sena seems to “know everything”, including how Takuto turned back time multiple times. In reality, even before anything is revealed about this character, Airu warns Takuto that Sena’s abilities are NOT what she claims it to be.
Her route is ironically probably the best, despite being already crappy in itself. As the duo is caught and punished for their efforts to steal the Orb, they soon realize that their actions also cause the forced disbanding of their “November”. While Takuto and Sena were willing to accept punishment that comes their way, they were completely unwilling to stay silent as their actions also affected their group of friends. In order to reverse this decision, Takuto and Sena force their limits.
While I’m okay with Sena’s route compared to other routes (since it seems to have more “drama” than other routes), it’s still crappy with a relatively crappy conclusion. As with all the other routes as well as the True Route, there were so many ways to make this better than it should have been.
I lied. Takuto is last.
Despite this, he has the worst design. It’s shown that he’s “evil” and aiming for the Orb for himself, but like all the other “seemingly evil” protagonists, he is weak as fuck. All the badass planning and his words to justify his actions are ruined as the reader sees just how incompetent this protagonist is compared to how the game tries to portray him, it’s actually quite ironic because the prologue (1 year before the story takes place) shows this character to be much more meticulous and able.
His design of literally falling in love with another girl within a few days after rejecting one was definitely a trait that threw his rating into the lowest numbers, and how it was usually Sena or Kokone doing the “fighting” while he was pretty much the sandbag for all the fights wasn’t really a good thing. To make a comparison, he was like the “King” piece in Chess. It’s the weakest piece (maybe even more than a pawn), but without it, you lose. That’s what this protagonist was, and as expected, he has almost no place where he overcomes anything. If at all, the other routes just show this idiot being depressed for the smallest reasons and having the heroine have to deal with his sorry tear-soaked ass.
Fuka is the one who does most of this. Poor girl.
Sexual Content: Moderate
Comments: So let’s try to list my complaints first. I really hate how within each heroine route, the problem at hand was solved so quickly (literally within 5-10 minutes) with little to no transitioning. The character’s (both heroine and protagonist) apathetic attitude towards said problem was not a good trait, since the reader can see that the “problem” is still right there in their face; they just choose to ignore it.
This doesn’t mean that the true route was any good either; as stated above, it’s LITERALLY a deus-ex-machina (You’ll understand what I mean if you play the game), and as everyone can agree, deus-ex-machina is never a good thing in a story. It’s even worse that throughout the entire true route, you see how worthless all the characters are repeatedly, and it’s not even that the fight-scenes displayed are any good either.
The “snake” that eats Airu’s heart if she lies…
How long did the scenario writer take to figure this one out? :|
Characters were colorful/adorable to a certain extent (note that one of the artists worked on Golden Marriage, a title I’ve complimented for its CG previously), but there was little to no follow-up of their characteristics in the heroine route, which was literally the two characters falling in love and H-scenes. It’s really surprising to see that the heroine routes themselves are even shorter than the prologue.
In short, Levol probably took some of the best traits of multiple companies and just mashed them into a single game. As obvious the fuck it is, that’s not going to create a good game. You can think of this similar to the following analogy: Tear off the limbs of someone who has the most toned limbs, tear off the head of someone who has a beautiful face, and attach everything on the torso of someone who is well-shaped. As you can imagine, this is extremely disgusting and revolting. That’s how this game presented itself.
This game also does not explain why it’s “October 31st” when the story takes place. While I understand that their title of “November” kinda limits their options, they could have just as well used Valentine’s, Christmas, or even New Years for that matter. The only thing that would change is the outfits that the characters would wear.
(Also, why is the incantation of using the “Cube” in French with the translation “Desire is Power”? That’s so freaking shady)
Affection for the Characters: Low
CG Score: 2/10. No SDCGs, and other than the character design, everything else (such as background for some scenes) was very poor. They did put a lot of effort into the “Town Square” BG, which was strangely contradictory.
Music Score: 7/10. Surprisingly, the game does have some decent tracks. I’m too lazy to extract and upload them. Apologies in advance.
Addictiveness: Low. This is definitely not a game I’ll be coming back to.
Conclusion: In simple conclusion, this game was only good for the “badass” protagonist (who ironically was one of the most worthless characters) as well as the music. Theme and reasoning of “Halloween” was never followed up and was most likely just because they decided on the name “November” for this title. Very poor planning and it seems that the writer does not have that great of an experience with writing a story with decent flow or even transitions, so unless Levol buckles down and gets some people who know what they’re doing, I’m afraid I won’t be following them anymore.
Just a reminder that even the true route sucks.
P.S. But seriously. When a company has a freaking “Enquete” button on the title screen to collect player opinions (which aren’t that helpful either), they’re probably lacking confidence with their project 99% of the time. I’m seriously thinking of writing to them with a long-ass list of things they’re doing horribly… though I’m pretty sure that won’t really help either.