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

Foreword: Sorry for the delay in finishing this game… Actually I should apologize for one more thing that I actually didn’t actually finish the game completely; I dropped it halfway. Despite being a dropped game, I just wanted to point out that I at least followed through with all the heroines and entered/played through their route to see what it would be like, so even as I dropped the game (and thus would’ve felt better if I just ranted about it for 30 seconds with the next review), I felt too invested in the story in the first place that I would at least need to rant about this title before I move on (to my break, probably)

A new game from a company I haven’t tried out yet is always quite an exciting experience especially if it has the overall first impressions that Golden Hour had on me. Zen from “Hau Omochikaeri” also mentioned how this game was stunningly similar to Natsu no Ame, which I rate rather highly for focusing greatly on character interactions in a realistic setting, so I admittedly had higher expectations from this game.

However, instead of those high expectations, I was met instead with giant eroge trope and rather poor design of routes. Let’s get started with the review so I can elaborate more.

Title: ゴルーデンアワー (Golden Hour)
Producers: Niko
Release Date: July 28th, 2017
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v20416
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=957582
Game Type: School-life drama with crappy foundations

Summary: Yuuya is a retired soccer ace who was hurt in an accident and was unable to play anymore. Despair overwhelms his future as he is more or less forced to spend his time outside of school in game centers while admiring his friends which includes Natsumi. One day, he will meet a girl taking pictures at a station, and have a sudden overwhelming feel of nostalgia as he turns back and asks her “Hey, have we met before?”

Estimated Story Length: Moderately long (30 hours) might seem as if it was long because it was super tedious
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: Straightforward choices and a few of them to make it even easier. Kinda sad how eroge nowadays is getting less and less interactive to be honest.

Also the super-popular, super-cute, and super-nice idol-like girl in the class in love with you trope

Character Design Rating: 3/10
Story Rating: 2/10
Protagonist Rating: 5/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 3/10
Rating Comments: Okay so ratings.

First off, heroines and characters in general were extremely poorly elaborated, the most primary one being Natsumi… and Ruri, and Suzu, and Marika, and Yuki.

… Wait what…?

So that was exactly the problem with this game: the game never takes the time to properly introduce the characters and instead jumps right into the main scenario. While I can definitely see that as a good trait in some ways, what’s shown about the heroines in the beginning is pretty much a copy and paste of what the readers could have read in their profiles located in the homepage/Getchu, and the writer almost forcefully creates these interactions with the heroines in the most unnatural way so that anything revealed about the heroines later on just has no impact, doesn’t seem natural, and really doesn’t feel like the two characters communicating. and more like the writers pushing the two characters and saying “now kiss”

Well? We’re waiting

Which then becomes the main problem with the story. Games with romance themes like this really needs to have that communication between the protagonist and the heroine be the main focus, but everything was kept vague and confusing because of the fucking foundation of the story which I’ll rant about later. As it stands a nukige will easily have better “story” than this purely because of this trait.

Protagonist wasn’t good, but also wasn’t that bad. Sure he does have his coward and moments where he’s a useless shithead, but for the most part there’s nothing abnormally wrong with him (see perverted/generic/average protagonists) and it’s at least a saving grace within each heroine route he’s a bit more active. He is far from being a “good” protagonist, however, because of how worthless he was in many of the scenes, as well as how his affection towards the heroines was also very poorly displayed.

A lot of the emotions switch from “wanting to protect”, which is just ehhh… I mean the initiative for the affection is there but the transition is shit

Sexual Content: Moderate

Comments:

Okay. Problems.

STOP. WITH. THIS. FUCKING. TROPE.

I don’t give a shit if they’re younger sister/childhood friend/whatever relationship you have with that heroine which suggests at least some past interactions. You do NOT use that as an excuse to have the heroine already in love with the protagonist right off the bat or at least affectionate towards him. That’s a COMPLETE NO-NO in a galge and it was especially obvious in Golden Hour where all the heroines was like this to Yuuya. That already warrants some huge cuts to the score and quality of the game, and how the writers sometimes fail to even properly include reminiscence scenes for these past relationships display laziness and incompetence. I legitimately had to close the game and look away from the screen several times while reading this game because of this trope. That’s not good.

We read galge for a reason; there’s a starting point (the prologue of the game) where SOMETHING new happens to the protagonist or we follow his footsteps in a certain period of time. When you have “past events” only revealed in the last parts of a story (or sometimes not at all) and they’re the ones most contributory to the events that actually happen, there’s some cheap convenient design going on here.

Marika’s interaction with Yuuya is one of the more prevalent examples of this

There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY a half-assed game like this is going to score high in my book. If the biggest forms of interaction between the protagonist and the heroines happen in the past, these need to be explicitly shown early on and NEVER EVER displayed at the very end of a route, if at all. The reasoning is that when you do have these “past interactions” shown in the later portions of the route, this forces the writer to not only tailor the beginning portions of the game to that, but also forces him to be vague and boring within that beginning which was essentially what happened in all the routes for this game, Yuki’s included. This vagueness and the monotone atmosphere never helps the reader become engaged, and in return makes the low-quality interactions (which we might call “fillers”) between the protagonist and the heroine more of a chore to watch.

Which is exactly how I want to describe the interaction between Yuuya and Yuki

The fantasy element was the second biggest thing that made me want to uninstall this game immediately. Not only is it a good addition to an otherwise normal looking slice-of-life game, this fantasy element was the fucking foundation to the entire scenario. While the fantasy element was only revealed for Yuki’s route, it’s not a good idea to incorporate it suddenly in the central heroine and possibly the main heroine’s story, AND suggest that it was a trait that affected the other heroine routes; that really should be common fucking sense. When you have a nicely presented game (which this game wasn’t let’s be honest here), you don’t go ahead and ruin that with a fucking devil that randomly appears at the end of Yuki’s route and sets up the intro to this game. You think I’m joking but this is truly what happened. 

You know a heroine is badly designed if you legitimately forget she’s a heroine even though you went through her route

This game is FAR from being Natsu no Ame 2.0 and even a decent one due to just those two things (convenient past interactions plus the fantasy aspect) alone. Not only that but most of the game is also heavy with fillers, or low-quality dialogue between characters with absolutely no meaning (see story rating above). It provided SOME interaction between them but it’s called “fillers” for a reason. This creates that boring atmosphere where nothing seems to be happening for the most part, and even if one was to skip through it he wouldn’t miss anything.

At this point since the foundation of the game was absolute shit I couldn’t find myself getting engaged with the story nor the presentation of the heroines, which was already made extremely bland. If at all the design of Marika to be that “past girlfriend” was an interesting trait but obviously even that design was trampled with the poor development for the character and how obvious she was still in love with Yuuya and vice versa. Not surprisingly, the romance in her route was also terrible, with characters falling in love LITERALLY within one or two scenes because apparently that’s how love works nowadays boys and girls.

They’re all in love with you right off the bat

Similar to Trinoline, a previous game that I’ve reviewed, the game essentially fails at everything except for the graphics and the music. Even then the graphics seem like a Norita-wannabe, and if I’m thinking only the HCG is the thing worthwhile in this game, I would be very disappointed at the past 15-20 hours I’ve spent on this game thinking it might turn out decently. Might as well make a fucking nukige. At least that’ll have some value

At this point I don’t even want to talk about the characters… So I won’t. I know I’ll just make myself more angry. Just note that each heroine is rather bland (see Character Design Rating above) and that didn’t really help me as I got into their routes. Nothing extraordinary happens in them either, making the entire game feel like a waste of time instead.

Affection for the Characters: Low

CG Score: 6/10. Problem with CGs is that there’s too much focus on HCG and the normal CGs look like it had less effort into them.
Music Score: 7/10. Decent music, and let’s be honest it was better than the main game

Addictiveness: No.

Conclusion:

Pros:

  • Good concept. A relatively slice-of-life game with unique design of heroines (e.g. past girlfriends) is something that this game ventured a bit on
  • Music and CGs are both decent

Cons:

  • Terrible design of story. The sudden fantasy which is the basis for this game, the sickening tropes, the lack of impact, and the boring and monotonic overall story doesn’t do well to sell this game.
  • Conclusions for this game is terrible, often cutting the scenario short without answering to some important things (such as the taboo in Ruri’s route)
  • It didn’t bother me, but there ARE those NTR-esque vibe in various scenes if stuff like that makes you vomit
  • Protagonist is relatively active in the heroine routes, but I mark this as a minus more because he is NOT in the beginning portions where he was pretty much a wimp and he never does anything “good” in my eyes.
  • Heroines are extremely bland and kept vague in the beginnings, preventing any affection to be formed for them. They’re also relatively useless and more damsels-in-distress than anything else.

Overall, Golden Hour was a huge disappointment. So much effort was spent in trying to create this nostalgic and sentimental atmosphere that the writers completely forgot that they were writing what’s essentially a book and shoved all the quality interactions they needed to the corner of the room and instead added a fantasy element they should not have.

As it stands the game doesn’t provide that touching story or even sell its heroines like a charage might, making this game stand alongside the worst games I’ve ever played.

I’ll actually be out of town for the next month or so, so I while I do plan on playing VNs during that time, I won’t have any opportunity to actively write them. I’ll be back around October 23rd with at least a review!

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Comments on: "There are Things You Shouldn’t Forget: Review of [170728] Golden Hour" (3)

  1. I think I already said most of what I thought of the game in another comment, so I’ll spare you a rerun.

    I didn’t feel like the recollection events were missing that much. If anything, not having to endure seeing the protagonist bathe in his memories in addition to feeling depressed about his situation was a good thing. I prefer when things are kept moving at a steady pace and when some parts of the relationships are left open for the reader to interpret, rather than have every little details be hammered with an abundance of explanations that leave no room for imagination.

    I understand the rant about the “love at the start” trope, but seriously if that triggers that much you most eroges will be insufferable. I do seem to remember you liked Koharu’s route best in Hatsujou Sprinkle though, despite the fact that she starts the game in love with the protagonist as well, so I don’t know. I won’t say I like this trope, but at the very least I can more readily accept it when it concerns an ex-sports ace that still has his groupies, rather than when an average joe with no particular quality to his name (or worse) already has his harem.

    As for the rest of the review, this is a Yuki game and most of the other heroines routes are not worth much, except for the tidbits of teen romance (acting on impulse, making mistakes and learning to live with them). As for Yuki herself, she’s more of a vessel to show how much the protagonist has grown since the beginning : at first he can’t do anything without her help, but by the end he’s able to chase after her despite the circumstances, and his feelings for her are sincere. The supernatural elements could have been better explained, but in the end it’s little else but a final gimmick to “test” the protagonist’s loyalty to her against overwhelming odds, after he managed to resist being tempted by all the the other heroines before.

    Have a nice trip! I hope you like Apeira, if that’s what you’re playing next. You seem more tolerant than I of harem games, (extremely) perverted but proactive protagonists, and very heavy doses of shimoneta.

    • Much appreciated for sharing your ideas, and also sparing me from spoilers in the previous comments.

      I guess I can agree that the recollection events weren’t really “missing”, but it was very annoying how each of them were placed further down the route than in the beginning. Sure, a lot of games do this, but these games also portray the “current” relationship well as well as their past ones. Some of the most prevalent ones of doing this might be games like Tayutama (Ameri-Yuuto), Damekoi (Osamu-Asami), or Mashiroiro Symphony (Sakuno-Shingo); games from my top 10 to name some examples.

      As stated in the review, my problem was that the writers spent so much time focusing all the details and quality interaction within those “past memories” which wasn’t displayed until the later moments of a route that the beginning portions were heavily neglected. I personally didn’t really find this “vagueness” a chance at making my own analysis of how their relationships were, however, because the game never really invites the reader to do so with impactful and significant events (e.g. the protagonist and heroine arguing for some reason about a past event that’s kept a mystery) Maybe something like this was present for Marika in a sense, which is why I at least admit her design was more superior.

      “Love at the start” trope is exactly why most of my Top 10 AND Best Games do not have them with maybe an exception of one or two characters. How this one resorted to having ALL of the characters fit this trope was my problem, and as I’ve said before with ensemble games (outside of their shitty writing), I don’t mind ojousama heroines; I hate how ensemble includes AT LEAST one in ALL their games.

      In regards to Koharu from Hatsujou Sprinkle, I hope I didn’t give the impression that the game itself was good. It’s just that Koharu herself as a character was different than the older-sister archetype seen in eroge and thus was something unique despite having a trope that I’m not too fond of. Did I like her as a heroine? Most certainly. Her route? Not too much.

      I take most of your words with utmost sincerity, but cannot tell if you’re playing devil’s advocate or genuinely defending a random and spontaneous fantasy element in an otherwise slice-of-life game. If there was anything I thought we could agree on, it was that this fantasy element that just popped right out of the blue extremely inappropriate especially considering the genre of this game, and something objectively bad. I figured you’d probably share the same digust as I did realizing this entire story was based on that fantasy element but I guess we analyzed this differently.

      During my little trip, I’ll most likely go for other older titles since a lot of the August releases were rather disappointing. I’ve also resorted to replaying some of my favorite games so I don’t feel so pessimistic and angry about the recent ones too. lol

    • Sorry for the delayed reply, I intended to replay a bit of the game to refresh my memory but all my free time has been absorbed by Divinity: OS2 lately. So I’ll have to rely on the fleeting memories of the game I still hold.

      To elaborate on something I mentioned in my first comment, I think this is a Yuki game from beginning to start, and the supernatural elements, while not as developed as they could be, serve their purpose in that scope. The protagonist’s feelings are constantly being tested, as he is first tempted physically by Ruri. He is also lured by his desire to protect/help her, but this is a thing that really escalates with Suzu. Moving on to Marika, in which the protagonist’s feelings are tested against his past relationships, then after a bit of self reflection about Natsumi (who he has been chasing from the start), the protagonist realizes his true feelings. The supernatural elements just come to top it all off with a final test, a fight against the very nature of an universe trying to pull them apart, and is the perfect opportunity to show that he will just never give up on her. I just loved that scene in which he chased after her and called her out by her real name.

      At the end, he does sacrifice himself so that she may live, and in doing so the world is back to its “normal” state, as it would be without any demonic intervention, but with a happy Yuki that isn’t contemplating suicide. In a way, he “saved” her, something that you wouldn’t think possible given his sorry state at the beginning of the game. I have a thing for these stories about growth and complete dedication to his love, hence why the game rated favorably in my book despite its many flaws.

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