Foreword: And quite a while since another post from me. I’m pretty sure I said this hundreds of times already, but not many games are really in deserving of a review recently… which is my pitiful excuse for not having more posts as I should be making like a good reviewer. I’m mostly interested in nukige, finished games, and MMOs on top of my already busy schedule of work and college, so we’ll see how this blog fares for the next couple of months, yes? (I also have another review coming up; just wanted to give some time between that one and this one right now.)
Right on to this title, Sorcery Jokers. Originally interested due to someone talking about how good it was, I was also intrigued by how it was also from 3rdEye, the company I had a horrible first-impression from this game. Despite this, I was pleased to see that Aoba Ringo does have a part in this game as well (although it’s not so major), and let’s just say that I have mixed feelings for how this game turned out.
Let’s go ahead and get started then!
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE FOLLOWING REVIEW WILL CONTAIN INTENTIONAL MAJOR SPOILERS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK
Title: ソーサリージョーカーズ (Sorcery Jokers)
Release Date: July 24th, 2015
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v16337
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=836703
Game Type: Fantasy Sci-Fi Novel with themes of “Magic” with philosophy of “human differences”.
Summary: Magic suddenly appeared one day, and it was startling for everyone in the world, who now had to become adapted to this new environment of magic. With groups creating utilities and tools powered by magic and schools training new, young “Casters”, it seems that magic was widely accepted… Or so everyone may think.
In reality, there are “Outcasts”, or people who possess magic power, but not authorized to use this power. These outcasts hide low from the government and other authorities as they are wanted people, and it’s never really known why these people are so oppressed compared to people like Haruto, who live his daily life fulfilled and happy when he is really nothing different than these “Outcasts”.
Of course, there are people who utilize their magic power inappropriately; some will try to oppress others using this power for their own good, and not surprising to Senri, they are often the ones who are smiling harmlessly or the most generous.
Magic… What really is it? How did it appear? Is it really the wonderful thing that everyone imagines about? Perhaps this story may change some of your viewpoints…
Story Length: Long (30 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: N/A
Comments: No choices within the game; there’s just one flow-chart divided into various section depending on the time-frame of the story, and like all games with a flow-chart incorporated into them, going through one path opens up the story to another. Other than this, there is no choices to be made. Don’t worry if you occasionally come across portions where you “choose a protagonist” because you’ll eventually have to come back to the other one you didn’t choose to continue with the story.
I have the power to control the protagonist in mah hands!
Character Design Rating: 5/10
Story Rating: 5/10
Protagonist(s) Rating: 8/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 6/10
Quite the disappointing game, this is actually because the beginning parts of the game is unbelievably amazing. Characters are very well defined, enough action and conflict to excite any reader, and a good flow to present each scene without choppiness of the story. HOWEVER, the game does neutralize almost all of this amazing plot they’ve created with cheap and low-quality elements involving the introduction of a completely different theme not related to magic and shift the focus of the story from a normal-and-happy-life to “Who am I, and what am I living for?” as the game progresses.
Imagine what you’d do if you were Haruto in this scene. For me, I’d probably freak out like he did.
In a sense, the protagonists were better designed than the heroines because in retrospect, they were the ones fighting the battles, the ones struggling the most, and the heroines were pretty much just eyecandy (and for H-scenes). This correlates to a higher protagonist score and generally low character design/story ratings. There are a bit of animations within the game, but wasn’t too significant.
Character Summary: Alright, I’m going to introduce all the main characters, which happens to be 2 protagonists and 4 heroines (2 heroine for each protagonist).
Haruto is first, and with his great sense of justice and morals is actually quite a well-known guy in school. His magic grades are relatively high, and he is the type of person who would rush to someone’s assistance without concern for his own well-being.
Haruto lives everyday with his younger sister he loves dearly and his father who he greatly admires. He genuinely finds that he is blessed with his current condition…
Until he realizes that everything around him is fake.
Starting with him realizing what forms of discrimination and injustice exists in real life, and his best friend turning into an Outcast, Haruto starts to question the very things that made his life possible, and finally snaps when he learns that he is not Haruto; he is actually a clone made by Magic Association and guarded by those who he thought was his father and younger sister. This revelation of Truth delivers him into the deepest outrage as he throws away his life to live as an Outcast himself.
In general, Haruto was the lesser of the two protagonists even though his paradigm was greatly shifted and he was the one who really experienced existential crisis. The reader soon sees that he is pretty worthless aside from his empty words of justice which was a big turn-off. Considering that only his thoughts of revenge fueling him after his realization, it’s pitiful to see this boy requiring help of an underclassman each step of the way. His design would have been MUCH stronger if he was even 1/2 as capable as Senri was, although that would then contradict with his “happy” lifestyle that he’s had in the past.
Haruto’s arc also involved a fair amount of deus-ex-machina as well which worsened his design as a character.
Like this. Apparently, this is his “Dunamis”, and not Magic.
And accompanying him quite a fair amount of the story is this girl named Asahi, who is known to be pretty, but a bit cuckoo in the head since she goes around saying weird things to everyone. This is including her first quote to Haruto as “May you receive divine punishment!” for which Haruto goes “WTF” because he has no idea what he did to this girl.
Going through the route a bit, the reader can see that Asahi has a special ability… rather a special item which is a diary that occasionally records events that happen in the future. Asahi thinks that this power is her destiny, and utilizes this to the fullest extent to save the lives of people multiple times. She believes that these actions will ultimately lead her to “Paradise”.
Asahi was pretty insignificant as a character most of the time until she receives her deus-ex-machina power in the later portions of the story. While this out-of-the-blue power is quite uncalled for, and even if it includes the fact that her “power” had nothing to do with her theme, it does give this girl at least a bit of spotlight in the story which was desperately needed…
Kinda sad, really
The other heroine paired with Haruto is Riku. While seemingly mature and calm, she is actually younger than Haruto and Asahi, and more of a lone-wolf character than anything else.
The readers first see this character as someone titled the “Collector”. This “collector” is apparently a fearful existence to the Outcasts because the powerful caster is known to “steal” the rings that allow the use of magic. This event is revealed much later in the game, how Riku’s work as a “collector” eventually leads up to Haruto.
Nonetheless, during one of her normal collection sessions (lol), Riku coincidentally happens upon an accident where Haruto is killed. However, seeing him alive and kicking the next day startles her extremely, as she becomes very cautious of this character from that point on.
In the later arcs of the story, she also finds out about Haruto’s Identity and while not explicitly stated, stays and supports him likely out of guilt; her father is the head of the “Magic Association” that schemed Haruto’s very existence, and was one of the masterminds of manipulating the boy’s fate.
In Riku’s arc, her own past is revealed, as a frail child who received some form of magic treatment to become the powerful Caster she is today. However, once she figured out that this life was from the sacrifice of another, she falls into the same despair as Haruto, considering she has also seen the ugly sides of what magic can do.
Senri is the other protagonist, and is actually MUCH more favorable than Haruto due to his seemingly apathetic personality in addition to his experience in fighting. A mysterious character indeed, as he is completely stoic when Ageha tries to seduce him in the beginning parts of the story or experiences a brutal scene. It’s also shown that he is a powerful magician who fights opponents with the same spells that’s thrown at him, which further adds to the enigma of his identity.
Senri’s route starts with the introduction of “Hood”, and how some people were mysteriously turning into gelatinous substances. It ties into other characters like the “Collector” and finally a strange girl named “Ru” who seems to have some connection with the masterminds of the Magic Association.
Extremely contrary to Haruto, Senri’s route was very well designed. While there were some hiccups in the story due to the introduction of Noah and various contradictions regarding her, his battles with Fiona as well as with antagonists like Ru were extremely intriguing and highly climactic. His general personality of not showing his hand until the last moment lead to descriptive and satisfying conclusions, and as the reader comes to understand his true identity, everything clicks into place for a grand finale.
And accompanying the calm protagonist is a clumsy nun named Fiona. Despite seemingly contrary to the protagonist, Fiona is shown to love her position as a nun in the small church where only gang members would show up and trouble her, while respecting the priest who she greatly admired.
However, with the awakening of Noah, Fiona’s true identity is shown; she is a spy for the Magic Association and an extremely powerful Caster to boot, and if that wasn’t enough, she claims that her past as a “clumsy nun” was actually an act, which fooled everyone around her.
Senri’s arc in the 2nd half of the game delves into detail of this character, of how she almost died but was saved by who is now the School Headmaster, and became a “fighting robot” doing anything and everything commanded by him. Her role was to secure Noah, who is the “Angel from the Heavens” that the Magic Association was attempting to capture. However, as the character becomes attached to Senri instead, Fiona follows the two around for a chance to eliminate Senri and take Noah.
At first, Noah does not have a name. Instead, she is referred to as the “Prophet” by the Outcasts, who receive “blessings”from this prophet. In reality, she is considered an “Angel from the Heavens” by others, and as for Senri… He gives her the name “Noah”.
Noah has a very childish mindset (although not so childish in other areas *cough*) of always being curious about anything, including Senri after she finds him very comforting. Like a stray animal following someone who feeds it, Noah becomes attached to Senri after he gives her a name and what she considers as “freedom”.
Noah is arguably considered one of the more important heroines of this title, but unfortunately did not have that much. In fact, a lot of people may agree that Senri had more interaction with Fiona instead, and Noah was just… there.
In reality, Noah’s arc is extremely convenient, with her design as an “Angel” seemingly having no relationship with magic or later on, Dunamis. Well, I guess she does have some relationship with the latter, but even that’s hidden until the very end of the game anyways…
Other than her ridiculous body proportions that rivals Fiona’s, Noah never really plays a significant role in the entire story.
But she’s like the central character, which is weird.
Sexual Content: Very Low (Most H-scenes are contained in the “Epilogue” section available when one clears the game)
Comments: Alright, this may be the portion where the majority of the spoilers would be, so prepare yourself.
In a sense, I actually kinda appreciated how the game turned away from the happy-school life bullshit and actually pursued a more darker, philosophical theme. Despite me not liking Haruto in general, he seemed exactly the same as me; someone who was happy, but as soon as he saw the “truth”, became an outcast and his heart filled with hatred and revenge. In fact, Haruto has a really great design; it’s just that as himself, he’s pretty worthless and pretty much all-talk-no-bite. His design to be the clone of who is actually Senri’s father was something that came out of nowhere, but was hinted in the beginning of the scenes, and even after Haruto finds out about this, he still interacts with the calm Senri, who brushes it off with a smile.
It’s really weird how the game uses Haruto’s clones as antagonists at times, but nothing is mentioned about how these clones were controlled.
On the other hand, the game brings an additional factor, called “Dunamis” to the play. In very simple terms, this word refers to “Potential”, and as the game explains, is actually an innate power that SURPASSES magic and is given only to a very few number of individuals by pure chance. Of course, it turns out that the characters in the game that has this power are Asahi, Senri, Haruto, and of course, Noah herself.
The thing about this is that the game shifts from magic battles to the “Origin of Magic”. It’s kinda like how you’re watching an action movie about martial arts, then suddenly learning about the history of martial arts: it just doesn’t blend nor flow well, and that caused a lot of awkward choppiness within the story. The game does resolve a bit of this choppiness with the incorporation of the Flowchart, but that wasn’t especially effective either.
From my perspective, 3rdEye had a similar pattern here compared to the 1st game; they like to utilize some “out of the blue” elements such as Dunamis on this game to bring about a conclusion, which really isn’t the best method in my opinion. While it’s true that I did appreciate that the “enemies” this time around weren’t a complete retard as they were in the first title. Then again, this title is only their 4th project, so I have no idea how they are for the 2nd and 3rd titles.
Affection for the Characters: Low
CG Score: 5/10.
My biggest complaint about the CG score is that you see a lot of special effects involving gore and spilling of blood, yet very little of the CG sets have this “change” incorporated. As an example, when a character fights with an antagonist and gets pushed around and bleeds, the CG presented do not show turn clothes or bleeding limbs; it’s just the same graphics as before the battle. Considering how roughly half the entire game revolves around such fighting, that was a huge negative. Other than that, I feel like there should have been more CGs; they’re pretty amazing.
When it’s time to go to school and you don’t want to get out of bed.
Music Score: 8/10. Very mysterious and fast paced music to spice up the entire game, I sincerely appreciated the game’s Sci-Fi-yet-Futuristic theme which was a good representation of a “what-if” when such an event happened to the real world. The music is also distorted to a certain extent to represent the “dystopia” created, and the battle music is something that I’ll save for my MMO use.
Conclusion: A decent game from 3rdEye, which does relieve a bit of my saltiness towards them for the first title which was just crap. While it’s not that great, it’s still a decent title that I recommend others to try. I’m actually pretty disappointed that Aoba Ringo didn’t have too much of a role though.