Quick and Dirty App Impressions and Reviews

We’re still slogging through the viral aftermath at my house. On the positive side, being forced to rest meant much more time to play apps. Here are the latest.

Shall We Date?: The Niflheim+

  • Solmare actually found decent writers and translators again.
  • The MC’s an airhead, but it works. The writing feels like a goofy opera.
  • I love the talking skeleton.
  • WHY IS THIS NOT A PAID APP YET?

Shall We Date?: Scarlet Fate+ Furutsugu Route

  • There are not enough eye-rolls in the world for this guy. I’ll finish so I can do a proper review, but…yeesh.

Kissed by the Baddest Bidder Mamoru Route

  • The opening movie and prolog still makes me want to flip over every table in the house so I waited and bought the route on sale. Then if the recommended route was bad I wouldn’t feel completely gross.
  • The plot’s interesting, the characters have a good dynamic, and it’s funny.
  • Okay. Voltage really needs to start putting trigger warnings. Creepy cultists threatening MC could mess with certain readers.
  • The MC’s nicer than I am. I would have taken off way sooner that she does. XD

Finally, in Love Again Prolog

  • This MC and premise feels too much like Voltage pandering to a certain demographic. “Look at this old (34 is old apparently) chick who has forgotten how to wear a dress. And worries about her weight and wears shapewear (even though she’s very slender in the opening movie). Heck, it’s so important to our story that we’ll make it a plot point! Also, she isn’t appreciated at her job. Do YOU every feel unappreciated at your job?”
  • Okay, Voltage, if you’re trying to make this a self-insert, you’re doing a really crummy job. First, I’m married, not even 30, wear a size 2, and am happy with my position so…good one, guys. Second, if I were a slightly older, single, larger woman…who wants to be thwacked by those issues as though they are insecurities to be overcome? Give me fun characters, dammit, not a set-up that’s basically this. *shudders*
  • Ranting aside, I like the MC’s responses at the event. More of the “I am a grown-up, let’s act like actual people” please.

True Love Sweet Lies Sakuya Route

  • From the prolog: This MC is awesome.  I hope she stays the same in future routes.
  • In the route: Talk about disjointed. A few scenes are funny or sweet, but there’s no flow or attempt to tie things into an overarching mood.
  • The goat’s weirding me out.
  • All I can remember is the goat and that the MC actually has eyes in one of the CGs. The characters left so little of an impression that I had to look up everyone’s names less than twelve hours later.

Enchanted in the Moonlight Chikage Route

  • From the prolog: The MC has all the initiative and personality of a baked potato.
  • Wait, this is rated 12+?  Needs to be bumped up.
  • Wow. Voltage finally wrote a young child that didn’t make me want to thwack my head into the wall.
  • Yay! The MC gets a personality in the story proper. Her direct chattiness and willingness to involve herself with others contrasted with Chikage’s detachment had me grinning the entire time. This one’s likely going on the replay list.

Proper reviews incoming.

In Your Arms Tonight Wedding Vows Kiyoto and Koichi Initial Impressions and Reviews – Spoiler Free

Because everyone is currently sick and grumpy and edgy at my house I will wait to write proper reviews for both Kiyoto’s and Koichi’s Wedding Vow routes.  Still, since I couldn’t find other reviews this morning, I wanted to share my initial thoughts.

Wedding Vows: Kiyoto – Recommended.  I really, really enjoyed it.  I like the characters, the main conflict was executed well, and the translation had flavor.

Wedding Vows: Koichi – Meh.  I liked how the MC’s family is portrayed.  The first third was okay, the last two thirds left me by turns annoyed and bored.  This one’s going to take a replay and long prodding to figure out exactly why it doesn’t work for me.

Voltage’s In Your Arms Tonight is available on iOS and Android.

Thieves’ Gambit: The Curse of the Black Cat Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Thieves' Gambit

Basic Premise: You attempt to steal a jewel and (hopefully) humiliate your rival thief along the way.

Positives

  • Reg, your main partner, always amused me.
  • The editing and coding are spot-on.

Negatives

  • The choices don’t feel like they impact the story. You can choose a place of origin for your character, but in five play-throughs I never found it referenced. You have recruitment conversations for different members of your team, but outcomes are predetermined; the persuasion stat doesn’t seem to matter. Your prior relationship with the two different romantic possibilities doesn’t seem to influence how the story goes either.

Bottom Line: A competently written heist story that fails to give the player much choice or agency.

Choice of Games’ Thieves’ Gambit: The Curse of the Black Cat is available on iOS, Android, Kindle, and Steam.

Impressions and review based on a provided code.

My Forged Wedding’s Akito Main Route Impressions and Review – Slight Spoilers

Basic Premise: The main character and an old childhood friend pretend to be a couple in order to dodge family pressures.

I’ve always been slightly creeped out by the prologue of My Forged Wedding. “Hey, you don’t have any job prospects or anywhere to turn so go live with this random guy and help him” sounds like a prelude to human trafficking, not a cute romance. Yeah, I know that’s not how the routes go. It doesn’t make the initial first impression any less unsettling.

Therefore when I read that in this route the MC had refused to move in with a stranger, was interviewing for different positions, and had known her male lead for years I thought the uneven power dynamic would be gone and I could simply enjoy watching the two get to know each other.

Nope. Instead:

  • Akito: “If I tell HR that you ran off, you wouldn’t get hired…if you don’t want that, just follow along.”
  • MC: “Aki, are you threatening me?”
  • Akito: “Yeah.”
  • MC: “Seriously?” I was screaming my head off at Aki in my mind.
  • Me: You and me both, sister.

Akito uses his position at the company where the MC interviewed to blackmail her into living with him so his parents will stop nagging him to move back home and marry a local girl. He doesn’t ask, doesn’t express sheepishness or regret, and doesn’t offer to help with the MC’s job situation until the very end of the route.

Why would anyone do this?

It’s clear the author is going for a “oh, they missed their first opportunity to be together, but they fit so well together, and now they have a second chance” … but having Akito be remorselessly manipulative and, frankly, mean-spirited in many of his comments made me wish the MC would tell him exactly how horrible he was behaving, where he should go, and what he should do to himself when he got there.

And the sad thing is this route has some really nice moments. Akito’s mom’s talking with the MC, the siblings’ skepticism and commentary, the MC and Akito’s returning to the brewery, and all the scenes involving Ren have a surprising amount of delicacy. I kept hoping the next scene would be Akito’s apologizing and rectifying the situation, but no. Sweet moments soured by overarching jerkiness.

And so I can’t really recommend it to anyone. Dangit, Voltage.

Voltage’s My Forged Wedding is available on iOS and Android.

My Killer Romance Xavier Sequels Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Xavier’s main route review is found here.

Volume One

Basic Premise: Attend a royal ball. Try to avoid being poisoned.

Positives

  • The banter between the MC and Xavier fits naturally with the main route.
  • The main mystery plot has some interesting political and supernatural elements.

Negatives

  • The player has to watch both Xavier and the MC be dense about the mystery plot and wait for them to figure out some fairly obvious clues. I could accept it more easily if it were Keiran; Xavier’s too cynical and savvy to be missing such basic things.
  • Oh good. The villain’s monologuing for no particular reason.
  • I kept wanting more variety in the dialog options

Bottom Line: I enjoyed the banter, but it’s not one of my favorites.

Volume Two

Basic Premise: Help locate lost souls.  Try to work out exactly what went wrong with these characters.

Positives

  • Yay, Nelly!
  • The MC’s power is useful.

Negatives

  • Okay, where did Xavier and the MC go? Not only are their characters and interactions inconsistent with earlier routes, they contradict each other in the SAME route. Both of them irritated me, but the MC nearly made me throw the iPad. She’s judgmental, physically abusive, and so stupid about a basic fact regarding the Death Realm that my mouth was hanging open once I realized that she hadn’t figured this out before.

Bottom Line: Not recommended.

Voltage Entertainment USA’s My Killer Romance is available on iOS and Android.

Regency Love Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: You play as the protagonist of one of Jane Austen’s more appealing novels. As much as I appreciate Fanny, I’d rather be Elizabeth or Elinor, thank you.

Positives

  • The different music tracks fit the time period and mood well.
  • I really like the art style. Because the illustrations have a soft painted look I didn’t have any “anatomy doesn’t work that way” moments as I tend to with more photo-realistic and detailed styles.
  • As I mentioned earlier, the writing is like Austen’s novels, not the fluffier adaptations that remove all the bite and pathos. Along with moments of chatting with friends and enjoying the company of Lord Fat Cat, the player will see others’ frailties and sense the precarious nature of both the character’s position as a poor gentlewoman and a citizen of a country at war.
  • The word choice and sentence structure fit the time period. The variety of opinions your character can express also work within the setting. For example, the main character may be perfectly content with current gender roles, show herself an early feminist, or somewhere in between, but how she phrases her opinion feels believable. She’s not a 2014 Western woman magically transported to another time and place.
  • The characters stay consistent and reasonable, and the plots are well-paced. That, coupled with the various secondary characters, made the world believable.
  • The tone and plots are very chaste. When two characters hold hands for the first time it feels more significant than some other stories’ first sleeping together. I love that.
  • Classic novels, poems, and plays are referenced, but familiarity with the works is not required to understand the conversations.

Negatives

  • If you go too far down a certain path, one of the routes has a few BUT THOU MUST moments to complete the story that annoyed me. This game offers and respects many more player choices than most CoG apps, Voltage apps, or RPGs which makes these few moments all the more jarring.
  • Quotations and quiz questions will eventually repeat. I like the minigames the first few playthroughs, but I would welcome an option to skip them by the fifth time I went through it again.

Everything Else

  • iTunes categorizes this app as iPhone only, but it works perfectly on my iPad.
  • The dev team continues to work on new routes. Keep an eye on their blog for updates.

Bottom Line: I adore this game. Highly recommended.

Tea for Three Studio’s Regency Love is available on iOS.

Sabres of Infinity Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: You play a newly minted officer attempting to advance through the ranks and survive a long war campaign.

Positives

  • The plot and setting are fully developed, and a codex is provided if you wish to dig deeper.
  • The secondary characters have distinct personalities, values, and voices. I keep trying different options to learn more about them.
  • Your character is always fairly low-ranking in the social order. I find that more interesting than “and you are now the most awesome bad-ass that ever bad-assed and everyone on the planet is focused on you” some choose-your-story titles employ.
  •  Your character has be-completely-clueless options. Want to ask the bastard why the gentry seem to have a problem with his being in command? Want to ask another officer to give you basic information about the highest ranking nobleman from your own area? I love the little retorts the characters have when answering.

Negatives

  • The “and what do YOU think about a woman’s role in society and military” choice section feels kind of clunky, as though the author is attempting to deflect complaints about lack of gender choice rather than just letting the story flow. The prologue already includes an explanation as to why your character has to be a man and an aristocrat.

Everything Else

  • Your character is focused on his career and doesn’t have time for romantic entanglements. Frankly, I found it refreshing not to have to keep choosing “no” options. Some games make me wish for a frying pan to smack the “DO NOT WANT” into a pushy secondary character’s skull.
  • I’m interested in playing other roles in this setting. I want to hear political intrigue as a maid in one of the duke’s houses, serve as a priest who helps others in their spiritual lives, or pick pockets in the capital city.

Bottom Line: Recommended. I look forward to the sequel.

Paul Wang‘s Sabres of Infinity is available on iOS, Android, and Google Chrome.