Foreword: I really enjoy a good mystery/thriller/whatever kind of story that’s not spelled out in your face. It kinda gets me thinking about might happen, encourages me to keep engaged, and quite frankly this type of game is one of the main ones that can even HAVE a story in the first place.
Despite this game being relatively good in some portions (primarily the humor), it does suffer in some other areas as well, mostly the fact that it failed to deliver its most important elements (primarily said “mystery”) properly. Let’s get into the review.
As a story that really requires a lot of analysis, I’ll unfortunately be forced to spoil a large majority of this game! Please read at your own risk!
Title: ヤミと祝祭のサンクチュアリ (Yami to Hikari no Sanctuary)
Producers: Azarashi Soft Zero
Release Date: October 27, 2017
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v21073
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=953482
Game Type: Mystery action visual novel
Summary: Souji and Alice are moving to Nijima, a newly discovered island where only the ones invited can live in, and has very strange rules as soon as they arrive. Their original intentions are clear, however, that Alice came to this island looking for her lost sister that her family won’t even talk about.
While there is mystery surrounding every portion of this island, there is only one possible truth. Souji and the people around him are living their everyday lives unknown to the greater secrets that this island has in store.
Story Length: Moderately Long (25 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: This game shouldn’t be hard to clear; you have a giant-ass flowchart available from the get-go that really displays the entire outline of the game. While I really appreciate designs like this, the problem was that there was nothing more to it; meaning a game like this would ideally want to have a “true route” which diverges or separates from one of these “trees” if you will. It’s almost having this amazingly decorated dish pleasing for the eyes but in the end the food itself tastes terrible; effort spent in the wrong area.
Speaking of food, I’m kinda hungry right now
Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 4/10
Protagonist Rating: 6/10
Game Quality: Low
Overall Rating: 5/10
Rating Comments: Really a mediocre game, this really has to do with how it wasn’t actually mediocre, but good and bad at the same time.
Characters are unique, but as with every character in this game, too contradictory. This was the biggest problem even when each heroine and subcharacters had great overall design, that at one point or another they just feel like different characters with them acting different than their original personality. Though I appreciated how each route really adds in a subcharacter to add immersion.
Subcharacters like Ayaka was a good addition in my opinion
Story is heavily lacking, as to the best of my knowledge it bases everything on folklore. While basing a scenario on actual folklore is fine, not many of these are well-known even to the Japanese, much less to the general audience. The biggest problem here is not only how said folklore is connected to the relevant story at the very end of the route (like why would you do this? It’s like if you predicted you’ll roll a 6 after rolling the dice and seeing it land on 6 and going all wild about it), but also how each conflict really ends too quickly. Pretty much all battle scenes while pretty climactic all had its “own logic” and its own deus-ex-machina which made them more of a chore to go through (though it wasn’t painful since it was short…
wait is that a good thing?)
Souji himself shares the same flaws as the other heroines as being this super-powerful individual against the aberrations, but the game tries too hard to display him as this normal teenager sensitive to sexual topics and oblivious to romance. Some of the skills he display in fights are deus-ex-machina which hurts both the score of him and the story, and overall I would’ve appreciated it if he was just more solemn and cold with personal problems of his own.
Claudette is the first heroine I went with, being that haughty ojousama who originally antagonizes the protagonist but opens up to the protagonist early on and remains very loyal and affectionate for him the entire game. Most of the humor originates from her as she is almost abused for her dedication to Souji, and at least in her route I felt relieved her affection was finally answered to unlike other routes where she more-or-less disappeared.
Claudette holds a lot of pride in her abilities but seems to always lose to the Himegami family (or more specifically Alice). Despite having somewhat of a love-hate relationship with Alice, it’s not just her; some other subcharacter in her route really feels this love-hate relationship with her as well. Her route also involves some other subcharacters as well.
Claudette was ironically the only character who didn’t have that big of a “contradiction” in character, if you will, making her one of the more favorable characters that really made this game for the better. I guess her contrasting design (ojousama + deredere) helped this as well.
Julie is another high-tier ojousama who is affiliated with Claudette a bit more. It is introduced rather early on that this girl has some special powers similar to Souji, and recruited into the school council for that reason. Despite all this she’s seen to be an otaku, with enthusiasm to the max when anything relates to said subculture and often bringing the running gag of Souji = ninja to the table.
Her route introduces a new subcharacter and new folklore involving the Snow Woman. Though this concept was interesting, the entire flow of the route, the romance between the two characters, and the overall conclusion of the entire route was really crappy, making this route one of the worse ones.
Overall, Julie was that one character that would’ve been best left as a subcharacter; even other characters (such as Ayaka) have more impact and influence than her, and if at all it’s her powers that make her relevant in the scenario anyways, not her character as a whole.
Yuuri is a friend of Alice and one who is a bit more modest despite her background. She is one of the targets of Claudette’s group as shown in the beginning who’s saved by Souji’s brave actions, leading her to becoming very trusting of him early on. As she is involved more including Souji’s battle against the council president, she gains confidence in her abilities.
Yuuri’s route begins with Souji actually being mentally attacked by something, which constantly drains his physical power. The only hint is that this is through a dream and the “attacker” takes on the form of Yuuri, suggesting this may be a succubus.
Yuuri’s character receives a folklore as well, regarding her background as an archer. Her folklore was foreshadowed a bit better than others, so I was more or less okay with it.
As essentially the central heroine and someone who’s been with Souji all her life, Alice has a calm and mature personality which was contrasted by the occasional “trolling” she might do to Souji when she hooks him up with respective heroines. Often mistaken for lovers, the two instead see each other almost as brother and sister, both explicitly admitting that they are both “too close to have a romantic relationship”
But you know this is bullshit
Their route really starts off really being unable to trust anything on this island, and SOMEHOW conveniently finding each other a potentially a romance candidate. This then involves Shizuka, who TOTALLY ISN’T Alice’s older sister even though they look exactly alike, and delves right into the deeper truth about this island.
In the end, I was very disappointed in Alice’s route. It wasn’t even a true route; you could’ve gotten to it even before other heroine’s routes, it only threw the “truth” about the island in your face instead of properly foreshadowing it, and there was just too many things left unanswered or left vague for me to actually appreciate her route. If at all, there should have been another route that unlocks after Alice’s that does all the explaining, but I guess that wasn’t an option considered by the producers
me when I troll and shitpost online.jpg
Sexual Content: Low
Comments: Okay soooo. Lots of things to discuss
First things first. The concept of this story is quite amazing and one of the things that kept me pushing through. While the “mysterious island with weird shit going on it” isn’t really too original, the fact that you have a protagonist specifically trained all his life to fight this abnormality was that interesting concept that I was curious to how the writers would utilize.
Turns out, they went the coward’s method instead; using that design only as a convenience factor and throwing all the other good potential out the window because it’s difficult to pull off. Souji’s characteristic of being almost this superhuman was completely lost to follow up and the readers were really just “forced” to accept it as it is.
The same could be said for a lot of the climax scenes as well as the conflicts the game presents. None of them are explained well and if at all each of the climax scenes suffer from that deus-ex-machina or the convenient resolution, and that in my opinion is the biggest killer for this game.
Humor was good, actually being present even in some battle scenes and relatively intricate involving heroines and not just the protagonist. This was the other factor that kept me playing this game.
Critiquing the story (and sorry that this paragraph will have the most spoilers), I think it’s absolutely retarded to have a scenario go “Hey, there are lots of gods and goddesses that made this world” -> “This world is fated to be destroyed in the next few thousand years” -> “one god aims to avoid that fate” -> “This island was created”. I mean I appreciate additional details to the initiative for why the island (background) was created, but if that has to be based on all these information that you throw out at the last portion of the route and very poorly foreshadowed, you might as well have scrapped the story entirely. The design of Shizuka to act as that “bridge” between Souji in particular (note the trope of eroge protagonists always being the “chosen” one) and the god was also not followed up, and overall the story was a big mess I can’t really say was good. Either that or there’s way too much reading between the lines.
I honestly think it’s the former. I’ve only been reading VNs for several years. I’d think I’d know when the game was making me read between the lines
One more thing if I had to add and somewhat complain about is that the girls in this game have unnaturally large boobs and it’s almost off-putting and definitely not appealing. It made the game feel more of a nukige considering the lack (or at least the proper design) of the story, and while I’ll be the first to admit that I greatly appreciate a good nukige, I don’t think this game was designed to be one.
…or maybe it is
Affection for the Characters: Moderate
CG Score: 7/10. I think the SDCGs are freaking adorable
Music Score: 5/10
- Interesting concepts. The introduction of folklore and Souji’s design made this game deviate from the “same old” and allowed me to be a bit more interested in it.
- Pretty good design of characters (heroines + subheroines). I need to give them credit for this because each of them seemed relatively original
- Humor is something I appreciated in this game, light enough to give a dry laughter at least and intricate enough so it’s not just about the protagonist’s sexuality all the time like other games
- Souji is extremely powerful. I personally like this kind of design though I really wish he was displayed as someone more cynical (which could be his “flaw”).
- Story is highly incomplete or flawed, resorting to deus-ex-machina to end battle scenes or conflicts. One or two is “eh” (even though it’s still bad); the entire game had this trait.
- While the concepts presented in the beginning were interesting, most of them became irrelevant to the main scenario or was just an “add-on” if you will, having nothing to do with the heroine; the writers just needed to shove in something else to the heroine routes.
- Many things including story elements and concepts are lost to follow-up and readers are either forced to just accept things for how it is or be puzzled about things left unanswered. Generally not a good way to finish the game if you have questions even after it ends
Overall, while I wouldn’t say this game was bad, I still wouldn’t recommend it to anyone purely because of the various cons. I still think it works as a charage (somewhat) which might be a thing for players if they find their favorite CV or something, but I would discourage anyone from playing this game from curiosity like I did.
The main reason why I even thought about picking this title up was because a very famous writer named “Daisangen” was a part of its scenario. I remember this writer for being very good especially when it comes to specific Whirlpool games, so I was pretty eager to see what he had in store for me in this title.
Turns out, it was more of a miss with a very generic (despite being an older title) storyline revolving around personal shortcomings and heroines actually being far too immature for my liking. Very little of the introduction has anything about said heroines and it’s only once you enter their route (for which the splits happen pretty freaking quickly, mind you) when they’re described in more detail.
A lot of the intro was about playing the self-blaming game so that wasn’t exactly the most fun reading, and how there’s conveniently this school that trains idols and the protagonist was chosen to be the manager for one of the promising groups doesn’t really excite me to keep reading.
Art is actually somewhat awkward for some characters although this game did have three artists, and overall even the choice of CVs were moderate at best.
Ogura Yui is best off voicing nukige
I dropped this game purely because I didn’t see the story getting any better than what I saw so far. The characters are extremely bland even though the transitioning is decent, and I can’t see the game getting any better with interaction between heroines and the protagonist that’ll most likely NOT involve other heroines (ironically because subheroines are present) plus the art is actually really awkward.
Character Design Rating: 4/10
Story Rating: 3/10
Protagonist Rating: 5/10
Overall Rating: 4/10