Once I came out of the Benadryl daze, I realized I had yet to give a general review and impressions for Our Two Bedroom Story before detailing individual routes. Oops. Here you go.
- The MC’s career is interesting.
- Each route has fewer chapters compared to older Voltage titles. That sounds like a negative, but I really appreciate it. The plots feel well-paced, and I was never bored by extra padding.
- The setup feels forced and disposable: “Hello, my dear daughter, here’s the man you’ve never met that I’ve decided to marry. No, I won’t invite you to the wedding. Or visit you once you move out.” Thanks, Mom, I feel so loved.
- I could justify the roommate idea for three of the step-brothers, but not with all of them. Living with Minato and Chiaki screams “BAD IDEA.” The MC is doing well at her firm; she should be able to afford her own place.
Now, for the individual routes:
Voltage’s Our Two Bedroom Story is available on iOS and Android.
Up next on the Our Two Bedroom Story tour is Shusei. Overall, I enjoyed his route. I found Shusei himself less compelling than Kaoru, but the story had much fewer “wait a minute” moments.
- The banter between the MC and Shusei can be adorable. They feel like friends before any romance starts.
- Shusei is kind and functional already. He doesn’t need the MC to fix him.
- The parents are mentioned throughout the story.
- The MC keeps describing Minato as secretly kind. He’s not. It feels like the MC wants to will him into being something more positive than objectively assessing his behavior.
- Every so often, two of the guys talk about the MC like she’s a thing. It doesn’t go on for long, but I wish the MC would point out that she was her own person who could make her own choices, thank you very much.
- The MC is harassed by an interviewee, and she returns to apologize to him. No…just no. Shusei tries to take the blame as well, saying he should have been there. The only person who does not take any responsibility is the harasser. You have got to be kidding.
Recommended to those looking for a sweet, angst-free story. Voltage’s Our Two Bedroom Story is available on iOS and Android.
Since Voltage just put Kaoru’s Our Two Bedroom Story on a discount, I shuffled my review schedule a bit. I should have more of the game’s routes reviewed within the next week.
Overall: I don’t regret buying Kaoru’s route, but it’s not one of my favorites. I wish the second half had lived up to the promise of the first. I liked much of his personality and character interactions, but the story itself had a good few “huh?!” moments. In honor of Kaoru, I have added a “What-the-Heck?” category to my review format.
*update* Kaoru’s POV route goes a long way towards fixing the flaws of the main route.
- The main character’s work plot was interesting.
- Kaoru is a professional at work and minds his own business. After Chiaki’s and Minato’s attitudes during the prologue, I really appreciated that.
- During the first half of the game, Kaoru felt very unique. He’s quiet, awkward, and not very sociable yet is never unkind. Then, in the second half…
- I found another MC-fixes-the-guy plot. The first half of the story was good enough that I would have given it a pass IF Kaoru hadn’t saved the MC from the EXACT same situation as his former girlfriend AND he didn’t go on about how fixated he was on not being able to protect her.
- The MC ends up feeling like a replacement, not like a distinct individual he cares about.
- The MC is really skittish. Calm down, girl, it’s a guy without his shirt. The way she reacts I thought he was wandering the house completely nude.
- Kaoru smokes, and the story mentions it several times. He cannot smell appealing.
- The MC never tells Kaoru why she was in his bedroom, and he never asks. I kept waiting for her to explain that, no, she isn’t a snoop or kleptomaniac, she was just trying to get the cat out…and it doesn’t happen.
- Kaoru has terrible people skills, yet all the other reporters keep saying he’s an awesome journalist. How does he get all the people he interviews to feel at ease and trust him in a short period of time?
- They take a skittish cat on a walk without a leash and it goes smoothly. Yeah, not happening.
- After providing the reason why Kaoru and the MC share a house, the parents drop off the face of the earth. The MC and her mother do not contact each other after she moves. Even though they obviously love each other and live nearby. Huh?
Voltage’s Our Two Bedroom Story is available on iOS and Android.
If you’re looking for a general opinion on Speakeasy Tonight, here you go. This review focuses solely on Neil’s story. It may sound scattered because at the moment I’m spaced out on cold medicine.
The main character is the sharpest I’ve found in the past year. She knows how to handle people and business while still feeling like a twenty-something.
Thomas Joyner (the author) obviously knows his Bible references and philosophy. I grinned throughout the Plato discussion as the MC held her own and called him on his bull.
Joyner’s dialogue is funny. Some of the conversations sound like a screwball comedy; the temperance meetings in particular made me laugh.
The MC treats Neil as a person, not a project. I loathe stories where an individual has to be “fixed” by someone else. *cough* Kyosuke *unconvincing cough* Neil is both a doctor and a war veteran, but that’s not ALL he is.
The mystery plot kept me intrigued.
A couple of “wait-a-minute” moments. In the prologue, the MC tells Uncle Charlie and others that she graduated from secretarial school. One minute into Neil’s route he asks if she graduated, and she says “no.” In front of the same group. And no one calls her on it.
Neil also manages to be 30 on the character screen and then 32 in his story. Fixed in the most recent patch.
The story’s best ending has Neil much chattier about his past and the MC than in the regular ending. It didn’t break my suspension of disbelief, but the regular ending felt more in line with his behavior from the previous chapters.
Overall: Recommended. The main character alone makes it worth trying.
Voltage’s Speakeasy Tonight is available on iOS.
My review of Voltage’s Kiss of Revenge will sound pretty irritated. To anyone who enjoys the characters who make my eyelid twitch uncontrollably: I’m glad you could enjoy them and don’t want to start an internet slap-fight. I like all these characters as concepts; the execution was just too poor at times to let me enjoy them.
*Glares at whoever wrote Junpei’s route*
Unlike my other game posts in which I attempt to stay vague so as not to spoil the story, this one will be SPOILER CITY. You have been warned.
First, I’ll list a few positives that apply to all the main character routes:
- The MC is a smart and talented surgeon who genuinely wants to help her patients.
- The MC has a definite, serious goal: take revenge on the person who killed her mother. She’s not some clueless teenager looking for a hot date.
- The romance (at least in the original routes) takes a back seat to the thriller aspects of the story.
- The nurses who work in the hospital appear regularly and are differentiated nicely.
- None of the guys are abusive or obnoxious. Yes, it does sound weird to list that as a positive trait, but some of Voltage’s writers seem to confuse sexual and emotional harassment with romance.
Now, on to the negatives that apply to all the routes:
- The entire set-up has a plot hole wide enough to drive an eighteen-wheeler through. Somehow the MC knows Director Sezaki killed her mother without any evidence or anyone telling her. Her father and grandmother didn’t know. No one ever accused the doctor or hospital of malpractice. Yes, her mom died during the surgery, but that’s not proof. People die every day in surgery despite the medical staff doing everything right. How was she so certain that she knew exactly who she would be justified in murdering? I kept waiting for the story to explain, but it didn’t.
- There’s not one option to kill the Director? Really? That’s the whole point the MC becomes a doctor and goes to that hospital, and she can’t kill him? She doesn’t have to get away with it even – it just needed to be an option.
- Doctors magically know what poison has been used on victims without any kind of testing or evidence and have the antidote close by. Voltage…you know there are many types of poison, right? And that there are many antidotes? And that mind-readers don’t exist in this story’s universe?
- If you have ANY knowledge of how the medical profession or hospitals work, skip this game entirely. I have family and friends who are doctors and nurses, and I have worked in medical practices so believe me when I say: NO FUNCTIONAL HOSPITALS OR MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENTS WORK THIS WAY. The writers get so much wrong it’s hard to pick out just a few as examples, but here are two of the worst offenders: Firstly, the story goes on and on about how amazing Sezaki is as a surgeon and how his refusal to rest and his internalizing any past mistakes shows just how AWESOME a doctor he is. Guys, would you like to be operated on by someone who hasn’t slept in two days? At that point, his decision-making ability is equal to a staggering drunk. Secondly, Kyosuke Narumi is ALWAYS available for the MC but somehow the most caring and “above and beyond the call of duty” doctor. What, does he get ten extra hours in the day to both take care of all his patients AND hang around in a different department to offer the MC coffee?
Now, on to the individual routes:
- Soichiro Irie: my favorite guy, favorite route, and the only one I care to replay. Irie is intelligent, responsible, cunning, and more believable than the other guys. The scenes with his mentor are really good. My only irritation with his route is the MC trying to make Irie feel bad because he has responsibilities other than being available for his patients 24/7. Irie makes certain the patients are cared for before leaving to make an educational presentation to his peers…and that’s bad? Good grief, Voltage, do you not want good doctors sharing their medical knowledge and, at times, securing funding for expensive hospital equipment? The mind boggles.
- Junpei Miyashita: the requisite nice guy who’s liked the MC for years; because he’s a salesman the “THAT’S NOT HOW HOSPITALS WORK” irritant does not come up nearly as often. I enjoyed how not interested in Junpei the MC is. She felt much more focused on her goal than in some of the other routes. The way it’s told drove me crazy though. The game will announce “MC remembers this and feels nostalgic,” then Junpei will say “wow, I remember this and feel nostalgic,” and then MC will say “yeah, I remember this too and feel nostalgic.” Rinse and repeat for the next area they visit or activity they do. Voltage, I don’t have short-term memory loss. Telling me once will suffice. Could we get back to what’s going on in the present?
- Kyosuke Narumi: yet another all-over-the-place character and route. I like how dedicated Kyosuke is to his patients without going over-the top, and he is genuinely kind and funny. His route has issues though; besides the “no doctor has this kind of time” problem, he spends a good chunk of the story feeling like a crummy doctor while the MC keeps telling him he’s not. I could accept it if he were in med school or just graduated, but Kyosuke’s in his 30s. He shouldn’t need some person he just met to repeatedly tell him he’s not a failure. How did he make it so long before she showed up? Time to put on your big boy pants, dude.
- Issei Sezaki: *SPOILER* *SPOILER* *SPOILER* Sezaki’s route feels like it would be the one chosen for an adaptation. His story feels the most closely tied to the MC’s. As the surgeon who killed the MC’s mother and who was severely traumatized by the experience, it seems like they should mirror and complement each other. It’s unfortunate then that of all the routes, his worked the least for me. The moments when they are working together are nice, and the MC’s professional acknowledgments are also good. However, I kept hitting a dissonance between Sezaki’s actions and his feelings that prevent me from connecting with him. If Sezaki really felt so terribly guilty – guilty enough to give the MC a perfect opportunity to murder him – why had he not done something before then? Years upon years it’s been eating him up inside yet he didn’t report the accident, never apologized to the family, and did not commit suicide. Please don’t misunderstand me; suicide’s a terrible thing and I’d hate for him to do it, but if he was so guilty and miserable that he was willing to die, why did Sezaki wait for the MC to murder him? That’s making things even worse for the MC. If the MC did kill him, then she’d have to live with the pain of losing her family and the guilt of killing Sezaki. Either he didn’t feel all that bad or he’s just too cowardly to face public scrutiny and is using the MC as a tool. Ugh. Then pile on all the ridiculousness of his refusal to rest or communicate with others when both are so important as a doctor. No. Just…no.
As you can likely tell by now, I’m not a big fan of this title. If the premise still intrigues you, I suggest Irie’s route. He feels the most reasonable, and it will also give you a chance to measure your tolerance to the melodrama and disconnect from any medical reality present in all the routes.
I promise the next review will be more positive!
Voltage’s Kiss of Revenge is available on iOS and Android.
As promised, here are my recommended hosted Choice of Games titles.
- Tin Star: you are unexpectedly made marshal in the Old West. The characters feel real, the setting and history are well-researched, and your choices feel like they have a real impact. I replay it fairly often and will be trying Allen Gies’ other games soon.
- Zombie Exodus: you try to survive the zombie apocalypse. If you’re like me, you’re bored of zombies by now, but still give this one a try. It won me over. The many characters feel distinct and believable, and you have many choices to shape your character and ending. Another title that I replay. Datillo is currently working on another game in the same setting.
- Way Walkers: University and Way Walkers: University II: you go to school to begin your magical education. Yes, it does sound like Harry Potter, but don’t dismiss it immediately. The races, religion, and lore are very different and (no offense to Rowling) much more interesting. J. Leigh loves her setting, as her encyclopedic website shows. The third part of the trilogy has yet to be released.
- Life of a Wizard: gives much freedom and variability from beginning to end. Mike Walter (the author) is currently beta-testing his Life of a Mobster.
- Wizard’s Choice: you navigate a creepy, magical world while protecting those you love. This title feels more like a D&D campaign than most of the other CoGs. What you lose in customization you gain in plot. This series was the hardest I played. I reloaded a lot, but the world and characters made it worth it. The later titles do have some disturbing imagery, but there isn’t anything vulgar. (This title does not have a demo on the website. Sorry.)
Whatever you do, please don’t make Unnatural your first CoG title. If it had been mine, I would have never tried another CoG. As of version 1.1.1, the grammar and typos make it nigh unreadable. And I have muddled through some really poor localization before. Kabell, the setting sounds awesome, but I can’t see it through all the numerous, glaring typos.
Most of the titles have a free demo, so give ’em a try.
Based on my past few posts, you would be forgiven for assuming I only play romance sims. Time to break the mushy, gushy game review streak with some recommendations from one of my favorite choose-your-own-adventure developers, Choice of Games.
- In Choice of the Deathless, you are a lawyer trying to survive both supernatural attacks and office politics. The world feels real and dense, the writing has a dry sense of humor, and the descriptions of the areas stuck with me.
- In Heroes Rise and its sequel, Heroes Rise: The Hero Project, you are a newly licensed super hero as he/she tries to build a reputation and protect loved ones. The politics and pathways in the sequel are particularly distinct, and I look forward to the third game in the trilogy. I’m especially interested in seeing the end of Jenny’s story. She’s awesome.
- In Slammed!, you play a rookie wrestler. Yeah, it didn’t appeal to me at first either, but this is probably my favorite of the series. It’s long, well-written, and gives enough background information on the sport and industry that a complete innocent could understand what was happening.
- In Choice of the Vampire, you work your way through vampire politics while dealing with the American Civil War. Much research went into the history and locations, and I found that more interesting than the fantasy aspect.
- In the Choice of Romance trilogy, you are a newly arrived nobleman/noblewoman who much navigate both family and court politics. Though it has “romance” in the title, it’s not light and fluffy. Plenty of people want you dead, up to and including your lover. While avoiding them, you must shape your role in the court: Mistress or queen? Fun or power? Puppet master or victim?
- In Choice of the Star Captain, you are a pilot just trying to get by when you’re recruited into the military fleet. This is the funniest CoG I’ve read. The computer, Lloyd had me snorting, and the player character has some entertaining options as well. You’re not just a straight man for Lloyd to play off. I hope the author, Dorian Hart, continues to write theses games!
The first few chapters of each title are free, so give them a try and see if a particular one clicks. Next week I’ll be back with my recommendations for CoG’s hosted titles.