A blog for reviews… that's really not much of a blog

Foreword: As a super-delayed review, I feel that there needs to be some form of explanation.

I generally didn’t really want to touch any tone work’s titles purely because of the fact that it’s super long (I didn’t touch games like Hatsukoi 1/1 for the same reason). After hearing people suggest this game for me, and me myself having played relatively longer games like Sengoku Koihime, I thought I would be able to handle it.

Oh boy was I wrong.

The reason why I’m making this a short review instead of a full fledged one is because I ended up getting sick of it after completing Yuzuki, Bethley, and 3/4 of the way through Mizuha’s route and ended up going “fuck this shit” and dropping the game. For this reason, I won’t be talking about the characters at all, but basing my scores purely on what I experienced with the game so far, as well as my opinions.

For this reason, please understand that my review for this game is greatly unreliable. Please only use it as another player’s opinion instead of a source of solid information/criticisms. Let’s get to it.

Title:  銀色、遥か (Silver Color, Far Away)
Producers: tone works
Release Date: August 26, 2016
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v18778
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=885200
Game Type: Realistic Romance Novel

Summary: Yukito’s childhood wasn’t colorful like anyone else’s, but it was definitely filled with kindness. His 2nd year in middle school was filled with potential as his younger sister Yuzuki hastily followed him outside to his “present”, and it’s not long until both of them form and remember new and old relationships.

The transfer student from Canada Bethley, Yukito’s new classmate Momiji, Yuzuki’s new best friend Hinata, Mizuha their childhood friend who they soon reunite with, and finally his own sister Yuzuki.

This is a story about them and their friendship that creates a group of inseparable friends. Even when Bethley returns to Canada, they are sure they will be able to meet again soon.

Story Length: Very Long (> 80 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: Not even going to lie; a single route took me roughly the equivalent of what would take me to play a normal game. Multiply that by 5 and you get how long you’ll need to spend on this title. To be honest, most of this length was a double edge sword for the game for the reason that it was full and complete, but bone-grindingly boring.

Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 6/10
Protagonist Rating: 6/10
Game Quality: Low
Overall Rating: 6/10
Rating Comments:

My first impressions of this game was, as many players will mention, is that it’s pretty damn long. Unlike BaseSon’s games, however, tone work’s games (or at least this title in particular) is heavily lacking that impact that makes you want to read more. Instead, everything just seems like your typical charage in the eyes of veterans like myself. Obviously, this didn’t play so well in giving me a good impression of this game in the beginning, and the game failed to change this impression as I completed two routes and finally gave up after I saw I wasn’t going to get anything else.

In terms of story, expect greatly heartwarming scenes especially when the scenario focuses around the two characters, and their interaction was rather cute, complex, and realistic. This did well for both the character and protagonist score overall, and is really what I think is the main selling point of this title.

Just a protip for scenario writers that the best games are based on reality. The moment you try to include a fantasy theme, you knock it out from being “perfect”.

On the flipside, the ridiculous length of the story was also its downfall as it was almost tedious to go through all the routes completely. This may not be the case for a very casual players who doesn’t write reviews or play 5~10 titles every month *cough*, but if you’re a veteran who plays a wide array of genre, this game will end up being treated the same as I have treated it; more of a chore to complete than actually enjoying it. As you can see, even I (who completed games like Astral Air, mind you) just ended up frustrated from the lack of variety or “impact” as I like to call it, and dropped the game. There are other more “fun” nukige games to play and I can’t see myself spending so much time on a single one as you would need to for this one. This is even worse because apparently, this game has a lot of effort put into it; having one scenario writer PER route. I’ll be discussing this further down in the comments.

Characters are generally well-designed, making this game at least qualify as a charage, but as someone who has played well over 200 titles and possibly over 500 including nukige, the designs seemed to be very archetypical. If at all, this game contains the “Eroge Trinity” (Imouto, Childhood friend, Kouhai Heroines) which is heavily representative of the lack of creativity or effort. Each heroine does have her own long ass “scenario” and traits, but the romance in each route is more-or-less a familiar aspect from other recent titles (aka, pretty bad).

Especially considering the game has all three of the “Eroge Trinity”

Yukito is quite unfortunate in the sense he seemed much more “bland” than what the game was trying to show. He has much more action once you get into a heroine route, but as it stands, there’s very little reason for romantic relationships to form with said heroine in the first place if all his “protagonist moments” are located further down the route. As with other charage with their tropes on romance, it was his “previous relationships” that really had a big standing in terms of romance development

Sexual Content: Low

Comments: So first, the good parts of this game.

The goods are that first, its transitions are great. Displaying of successive scenes are performed properly with relatively clear descriptive messages which allows the reader to quickly calibrate to the timeframe of the story, even if several months have passed. This transition allowed what’s otherwise a hard-to-follow story to become a bit more fluid, and that’s something the game did well.

Another thing I need to give this game credit for is the completeness of each route, meaning there are lots of “events” if you will happening between the protagonist and the respective heroine of your choosing, and the omgwtfbbq slow transitioning of the two becoming romantic partners. Even after their romantic connection, the game goes on to present even more scenario for each heroine, up to the “marriage” conclusion at the very end.

And having a family

There are plenty of character interaction between heroines (though I would’ve liked to see more of them in the beginning). You have all the five heroines fully interacting with each other in respect to their own “theme” if you will (e.g. Sweets for Yuzuki, Skating for Mizuha), so that was a very good trait. The reason why I say it was more of a minus in a way is due to the lack of impact for each heroine. The game does spend time introducing the heroine exclusively during the prologue, but this seemed unnatural since it does this with each heroine, meaning Hinata, despite being Yuzuki’s best friend, was introduced without said “link” (aka Yuzuki) to Yukito, as an example.

The same “lack of impact” is the fatal flaw for this game which made it not worth finishing. Everything just seems so plain and boring, and this coupled with the game being extremely long made the game simply not enjoyable. Many similar events repeat for a single heroine later within her route, adding to this monotonic atmosphere, and it’s fair to say that one can literally skip large chunks of this game and not miss the quote-unquote “most important parts”.

Even the main conflict in Yuzuki’s route was just pathetically insignificant

The game really needed that UMPH or that climactic atmosphere to grab the reader’s attention, but instead resorted to very slow and boring story elements focusing around the biography of the heroine (and the protagonist). The main problem with this is that not only does the game seem like a charage, but made it so that if you didn’t particularly care about said heroine, there was essentially no reason to continue playing through her route. The game fails to properly build affection for each heroine in the beginning, so I personally had trouble being immersed with any of the routes.

The second “miss” I found was the setting. Having five girls surrounding one guy is not necessarily a good trait especially since the game emphasizes friendship at least within the beginning portions. If at all, this game REALLY needed more subcharacters (Momoka doesn’t count because she’s not within their age), ideally one for each heroine. The fact that this group of six “kids” only included one guy gives off the atmosphere of a harem somewhat like this game, and something that really annoys me. When I was kid back in Korea it was usually me, two other guys, and one other tomboyish girl. Reverse Harem?

Which brings me to my third point that all of these characters are freaking middle-school kids in the beginning of the story. Let’s just ignore the obvious and accepted fact that kids in this age would likely rather engage with groups of the same gender Ew Cooties. The game makes heavy emphasis that these characters fell in love at this time so it gives off that impression that it was essentially their “first-love”, and that was pretty cute. On the other hand, these characters really did NOT seem like middle-school kids the age of perhaps 12-14 especially because subcharacters like Momoka suggest that Yukito and his group are “too mature for their age”, and there are no other middle-school kids behaving immaturely (*coff* lack of subcharacters) to use as a comparison within the game. Having them come back with a “grown-up sprite” was pretty nice, but even then that has its flaws (such as how they all look like college students with one certain portion greatly amplified).

I was talking about their height. Get your minds out of the gutter pervs :^)

One of the things I need to mention is that each route seems to be split apart from the others, similar to what I saw from Sakura no Uta where each chapter seemed like a different “book” if you will. This may have to do with how each heroine route was written by a unique scenario writer, but as it is there is very little presentation of other heroines in a specific heroine’s route (e.g. I would rarely see Mizuha or Hinata in Yuzuki’s route). Obviously this leads to even more monotonic scenario and even less immersion. Not a good thing.

The last negative I’ve observed was that each route has an after-story. Now you might be thinking “Wait Joyjason; isn’t an after story more of a good thing because it offers quantity?” Well yeah, IF THE QUANTITY OF THE MAIN GAME WASN’T ALREADY LARGE ENOUGH. (Insert barbaric screaming here)

On the flipside, it’s not really fair to call this a game with “fillers” since while the quantity was fucking atrocious these large number of “events” (no matter how bland or boring it is) was one of the main things that really makes this game moving and was exclusive to the heroine in question.

Basically, each route was SPECIFIC and almost exclusive to the heroine

As mentioned previously, however, the length of this game only works if you actually care for the heroines in the first place to “follow through” with her life from beginning to end. This would be a good trait, except the game fails to actually do as such at least in my viewpoint. As mentioned previously, I never found myself caring for any of the heroines purely based on the prologue, so that made my experience with this game much more painful.

Affection for the Characters: Low

CG Score: 8/10
Music Score: 7/10

Addictiveness: Game pls. I’d rather cut off my four limbs than play this game again.

Conclusion:

Pros

  • Transition of the game is fluid and smooth for the most part
  • The plethora of interactions within the heroine route (although it was missing both in the prologue and the later portions of said heroine route) was a great design and allowed the story to be very immersive.
  • The game is extremely thorough and complete. It almost feels like you’re “following” the story of the heroine through her life, which was an interesting take on a visual novel
  • Characters, while archetypical for the most part, also have theme and conflict of their own which their route revolves around

Cons

  • If it wasn’t emphasized enough already, the game is painfully and excessively long, requiring utmost dedication or to be fully engaged with the story to even have a good time with it.
  • The game presents the Eroge Trinity, which shows the lack of effort by the writers in terms of designing heroines
  • As a game written by 6 different scenario writers, the entire game feels incoherent with each other and exclusive to the heroine for whose route you’re in. This made the game seem like five different titles.
  • More like a biography of the heroines, it makes it tedious to go through a route if you didn’t particularly care for said heroine.

Overall, Gin’iro Haruka is actually quite a good game. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to label it one of the best games of 2016…. IF it wasn’t for the huge lack of impact and the ridiculous length that really just made me more annoyed than actually enjoying the game. For players who really like the heroine from the prologue you might have a good time with the game, but if you can’t find yourself doing this I would highly recommend you to drop the game immediately and invest your time into a more worthwhile title.

As it stands, Gin’iro Haruka is best described as a very extensive charage. You play this game for the characters and that’s pretty much it. If you come here expecting anything else like I did, you’ll end up deeply frustrated and annoyed.

No commenting about how this isn’t a short review. I’ll kill you if you do

Next review will be for Amenity’s Life

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Comments on: "The Love Story that Starts in Winter: Review of [160826] Giniro Haruka" (11)

  1. Oh, how many lines of text in that novel? 60000?..

  2. @Kzel @joyjason

    May I ask you two something ?
    I’m playing the game now (Mizuha’s route is nearly over, read some of Bethly’s). I’ve also played Hatsukoi 1/1. So I have to ask: Don’t you think that the reason why this novel didn’t turn out as well as it should have, is because Toneworks imposed way too much fantasy moral constrictions on the writers ?

    I mean take a look at this:
    Both of you state that all the heroes are too mature for their age.
    Which I presume is based on how dedicated Yukito is, in finding what he wants to do and how serious every heroine is, about her theme (Mizuha’s skating, Momiji’s acting…) which isn’t impossible.
    But what really annoyed me and what I believe is the main problem is Tonework’s fantasy morals about how teenage relationships, should work. More precisely, the 3 years time skip between the moment of confession and the deepening of the relationship to the point of uh… sharing their love physically. Also, it’s done in a most stupid and none fluid manner. For Mizuha: they confess….poof…two years time skip…Yukito is 1y high school, Mizuha is second year.
    Yukito: “Was it because we started dating in junior high, or because we’ve known each other since we were very young?
    Feeling that becoming adults was still something far away, we were both hesitant to go beyond this point.”
    Which [u]in my personal opinion[/u] this is to be interpreted through the viewpoint of how good kids(none existent) behave in society as: “Since we were dating since junior high school, because we knew this shouldn’t be done (possibly we shouldn’t see each other/date) at our age… but we knew that this love is about to become adult’s. But somehow it’s still far away. ”
    …then, Yukito joins the cooking club… oh, and guess what: no! you are wrong!
    Poof… one more year goes by just like that, with nothing happening between them. To sum it up: They start dating at 13-14, and nothing ever happens between them until they reach 17-18 (second and third year of high school). Coooome oooon… seriously ?
    The same applies to every other route. Bethly is in Canada, Momiji – we don’t get explanation why, and as for the rest…well I don’t deal with younger girls (kouhai/underclassman) so I don’t know.
    Also I would like to say this though: Condoms in VNs is good. It does give a sense of reality(as joyjason mentioned) and also, we all know that most of the guys who play VNs are teens so this is a very good message for them. I like the fact that Toneworks use condoms (IN VNs!!!!!) and I also like that, compared to the previous titles, this time it’s mentioned and you can choose whether to use them or not.
    But that aside, it’s flat-out impossible for a first time relationship, between to young boy and girl not to develop for that long, no matter how inexperienced they are. The relationship would simply wear out/ become stagnant, way before 3 years pass. One year is the limit and things have to happen. (oh.. and if some one says: “They abstained, because both of them wanted to be closer to Jesus” I kill you!)

    So after what I said, I would like to ask: don’t you think that one of the bigger reasons why it’s somewhat boring (except because of it’s absurd length) is because Toneworks forced the writers to absurdly slow pace the story because of fantasy morals ?

    • They had sex outside of marriage so they’re going to hell either way. Also, using contraception, my Lord! Seriously, I highly doubt religion had anything to do with this decision.

      It’s been a while so forgive me if I don’t remember every detail of the game. That said, I don’t think the morals is at fault here. The game is separated into three different phases : childhood, teenage years and (young) adulthood. That each phase gets separated by a big time gap is not really the issue here. Yes it seems odd, but time gaps are always odd in games. It’s a common issue in fandisks and after-stories and what-not.

      They could have put the first sex scene at end of the childhood phase and honestly it wouldn’t have changed much, it’s not like it’s taboo in Japanese game to have middle school kids have sex (together or with adults…). But by doing so, that doesn’t leave much room for the teenage phase to expand on as far as relationship development go : toneworks’ games maintain some amount of realism (more than your average game) so high school marriage is out of the question, characters have already been having sex for years and should be used to it, it’s all pretty much settled until adult life begins. Sure you can gradually turn the characters into perverts, but that’s already something some routes rely on to fill the blank with questionable results. You can also add some drama, like a break-up or something, but that isn’t really the style of the house and beware the Japanese crowd grabbing torches and pitchforks and setting everything aflame if the heroine dares to favor her dream over the protagonist (like in Koi x Shin Ai Kanojo).

      I don’t thinks morals were really at play here, the writers probably wanted each phase to have its own climax or major event. Childhood phase ends with confession, teenage phase is focused on first sexual experiences, and adult phase is more about children and such. Yes, they could have made it more realistic by spreading out the events rather than pack them in phases that last a few months separated by years, but it’s not something perfect either as that makes the story quite disjointed also (see Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai after stories).

      The game is boring because, to be blunt, each phase is far too detailed, especially in areas outside of the relationship. You’re following two people achieve their dreams small steps at a time. With luck you’re endeared to one (the heroine), and don’t mind the other (the bland protagonist). If not, better move on to other games.

    • @Kzel

      You are probably right for the most part. Yet somehow I got the feeling that they were constrained by morals, length and as you pointed: separate phases and because of that they couldn’t write the way they know and do best.

      Endeared ?
      Yes I REALLY love Mizuha’s character design, voice and demeanor somewhat. But the story…not much. When I saw the visuals I was so damn excited: this will be the perfect game ever for a completely average guy getting to be somehow with a near perfect woman (slightly older), despite the pressure from society, theme, is what I thought when I first saw Mizuha in her skating outfit. Boy I was in for a rough surprise. Still I hope I’ll find one one day.

      Thank you very much for your time and for answering in such great detail. (bow)

    • Well, they were certainly constrained by the phase separation at the very least. Also, the format of the game is rather different from your typical eroge/charage, each route featuring about as much text as a whole game would otherwise. toneworks’ had a writer for each route to compensate for that, but it’s definitely not a format they were used to. They probably each had to resort to a little padding here and there and it shows, more or less depending on the route but still.

      Mizuha’s story is kinda like you described, the protagonist is mostly in a support role and Mizuha is the champion, even though she’s not perfect either. The scenario does its best to try and give credit to the protagonist for his work as a dietitian (a bit too much if you ask me) but he still remains quite the average guy compared to her. There’s little drama surrounding the mismatched couple though, if that was what you were looking for then I understand the disappointment.

    • This is an interesting discussion and fuck me for not being able to get to it sooner!

      First off, I’m extremely skeptical that there’s a meaning behind trying to display romantic relationships in a specific manner. For the most part the audience of this genre are in their early, mid-20s (Not many teenagers play eroge. At least they’re not supposed to and even if they do the game’s not targeted towards them) and fully capable of making good decisions: they don’t really need an eroge to tell them to use condoms lol.

      I honestly don’t think there was any other meaning behind this. Heck, even just the fact that you hook up with your childhood friend or younger sister is pretty much “non-realistic” if you ask me

      That aside, I really do side with kzel on this one; the fall of Giniro Haruka (and maybe even Hatsukoi 1/1) can be described with just one acronym “TMI”. There exists a certain point in story writing where too much is too much and good scenario elongated far too long gets tedious and boring. In my opinion Giniro passed that line and EXCEEDED that making it almost painful to play through, and the fact you can literally Ctrl-skip half the game and still have a general understanding of what happened supports this.

      The failure is not the small detail like “oh this relationship is X or Y” because damn if that was the case 99% of nukige/charage with absolutely no effort put into displaying character relationships would be in the garbage right now.

  3. Harsh but expected review. I more or less agree with everything you said in your express review, and while I haven’t given up on the game just yet, it’s currently on pause for an undetermined amount of time, after finishing Yuzuki (great minds think alike…), Hinata and Mizuha. I already had to somewhat force me through Hinata’s and Mizuha’s later parts, and with no particular interest in Momiji or Bethly just yet the game will stay on hold until I feel like coming back to it. When that happens is a mystery, as I’ve had Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai, tonework’s previous game, still on hold for basically the same reason (but with only one heroine left out of six, Misa) for more than a year now.

    Overall, it’s all up to the heroine and the player’s interest in them. If they happen to hit one or two strikes, then the completeness of the story is a certain plus, although to be perfectly honest I would have enjoyed seeing a bit more of the married life and less of the transition to it. I really liked Yuruki (loli+imouto+Kusuhara Yui) though she’s no Sora from the previous game (loli+kouhai+taciturn+Kiritani Hana). In general I preferred Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai’s cast, and while there are some apparent repeats (Hinata/Natsuki, Mizuha/Rikka to some extent) I tend to prefer the “earlier” ones. I kinda wish Arisa was romanceable, I would have gladly traded Mizuha for her but alas…

    The extensive and detailed description of Yukito realizing what he wants to do in the future, then training and eventually working his job is nice the first time around, but the second or third time this felt painfully long. I think the problem is that in the end, he’s just excellent at everything he sets his mind to, which makes his character feel much less real than the main character of Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai, Ryousuke, that has an architecture dream, and while willing to bend it a little according to the heroine of the month, doesn’t stray too far from his calling whatever the route.

    While I didn’t dislike Yukito, I much preferred having a protagonist with skills and goals in his life that don’t seem to entirely depend on the heroine. As such, Yukito is clinging to the heroines to build his own character, and while that can be seen as a form of dedication, I think it ultimately made his character more shallow in the long run and his life not that interesting to follow, and at the very least less interesting than seeing the differences in lifestyle Ryousuke had while still pursuing the same dream in Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai.

    I agree with you about the cast, that lacks some important subs, most importantly a male friend for Yukito (Ryousuke had one, and it helped a lot). The parents and family don’t play as big of a role as in the previous game, and other heroine’s involvement in one route can vary greatly depending on who wrote the route.

    The middle school part feel little like middle school to me, and more like a first year of high-school as the character had a far too mature viewpoint for their age. I guess Yukito has some reasons to be less childish than your average 12 y.o. boy but still.

    The previous game also had more gradual ecchi, with a systematic use of condoms that helped make the story and the ecchi feel more realistic (as far as eroge go). In Gin’Iro, Haruka, it really depends on the route, and while some are tame (Yuzuki) others can veer off the hentai side a little too much for my liking in this sort of game (Mizuha).

    To sum up the wall of text up above: I liked it, but tonework’s previous game : Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai, felt just better in every single way. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but still, if you ever feel like going back to this style of game, play Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai. I wouldn’t recommend Hatsukoi 1/1, especially since you don’t favor hetare protagonists : he’s one of the most severe and annoying cases I’ve seen.

    Next review is Amenity’s Life? Gotta hurry up and finish it up before you post your review then, though after Naru, Mikuri and halfway through Kanade, I kinda have lost motivation to continue, and find myself drawn to Akiyume Kukuru instead.

    • Quite a description you’ve given me! I think the general consensus for tone work’s games though, is that you really need to like the characters from the get-go and if you don’t you’re pretty much screwed for the next 15-20 hours.

      I personally don’t like to start games and leave them for months, so I generally blaze through them even if it’s painful. The only exception is when the game is relatively long and “bullrushing” through isn’t really an option.

      Yukito was moreorless disappointing for the same reasons you described, that his “life” is altered by the heroines and not the other way around (like a good protagonist would). I kept it out of my review because I thought it might have become a spoiler, but I guess it wasn’t for individuals already experienced with tone works’ titles!

      I will very UNLIKELY be playing any more of tone works’ games, unfortunately. In my eyes, the company was an absolute disappointment considering they failed at their job of selling the heroines to me, and made me suffer for it for hours. If I imagine that there’s even a 1% chance the same will happen with their other games, I shiver at the very thought and would rather just play a crappy nukige instead.

    • I wouldn’t write off tonework’s just yet. Now that you know the deal, you could play the beginning of one of their games (but seriously, skip Hatsukoi 1/1) and see if you fancy any of the heroines. If you do, you know you’re in for a quite in depth-story that can’t really be found anywhere else. If you don’t, no point pressing on. It’s quite simple really. I have nothing against nukiges, crappy or otherwise, but they don’t provide the same thing at all.

      If you really can’t let go of you completionist nature, it can be off-putting to know at the start of a game that you probably won’t ever finish it, but given your experience with mobile games and MMOs I assume it’s something that you’ve had to deal with before. Yes it can leave a bitter aftertaste to know you’ve only scrapped 20% of a game before putting it back on the shelf, but forcing you through these kind of titles is in my opinion even worse. Moreover, as you said a single route has roughly the equivalent of a single (short) game, so you’re not really missing out on quantity anyway.

      I’ll just say that Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai is shorter, especially in the transition from friends to lovers, and the timeframe is also more constrained (a few months up to the school festival for the main part, and about a year for the after). If you’re fresh out of Gin’Iro it’s probably the last game you want to see, but just keep it in mind. Tonework’s release schedule is far from prolific anyway (a game every two year), and in a few months or so, who knows?

  4. exactly like what you said is pretty long n grinding I don’t really like it haha have you try latest tittle from windmill hatsukoi?

    • Ah, Hatsukoi Sankaime is on my backlog at the moment! Will probably get to that a bit later since December’s been pretty busy for me haha

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