Queen’s Gambit Senator Lindsay Tom Walker V Impressions and Review – Spoilers

Tom All the AnswersOh, my dear MC, you have no idea.

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If you’re looking for my thoughts on the game in general, please read the first section of my Joao Morais review.

The Good

The MC gets to operate almost completely on her own in this particular spy plot. It’s pretty cool.

Several characters from To Love & Protect are weaved into the story.

I like Tom. He’s not as subtly written as I wanted, and his simplistic views made me sigh at times, but he’s fun to challenge. And the route usually lets the MC do that.

I really enjoyed the dynamic between the two leads when the MC isn’t being inconsistent. They’re equals intellectually and professionally, and it shows.

The rookie ending made me laugh SO HARD after playing Emmett’s route:

Emily Meets TrainSeriously?  That’s all it took?  HA!

The Bad

  • The MC says she won’t sleep with Tom.
  • The MC and Tom are fighting. She gives no indication that she is attracted to him.
  • The MC jumps him in Chapter 3 without any option for me to stop her.
  • Me, yelling at the screen: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, GAME? He just KILLED somebody for the first time, and I don’t even like him yet! STOP IT!”

It doesn’t go with the story, it’s particularly jarring after Joao’s and Emmett’s routes, and I wanted a CHOICE not to jump Tom. I wanted to see a bad-ass, professional spy, not somebody who would take advantage of their charge. Blargh.

The Ugly

Tom Voltage PoliticsIf only the writer had done the same…

Nobody who comments upon the subjects has views on politics, government, bureaucracies, cabals, PMCs, America’s two party system, media, social issues, or businesses has nuanced or consistent opinions. Not the MC, not Tom, not the President…

It made my brain hurt every time it’s brought up. Swapping “democrat” and “republican” in the conversations wouldn’t help the story either (third parties aren’t mentioned at all). I’m baffled as to where the grayness of the setting and room for different opinions present in Joao’s route went.

And then having Tom and the MC go on like they’ve got it ALL FIGURED OUT with no options for the reader to express their opinion.

And then they’re not even consistent.

It’s rough, guys.

Oh, wait. I nearly forgot Emily. She’s consistent – completely bitter, but consistent. I cheered her speech near the end when she starts calling everyone on their crap:

Emily speech 1

Emily speech 2At this point in the story I was actually okay with the worst ending in which Emily wins.  Yeesh.

Bottom Line: If you can ignore the lack of nuance in the political/world view sections, this is a fun read. Try Act 1 next time it’s on sale and go from there.

Voltage Entertainment USA’s Queen’s Gambit is available on iOS and Android.

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Queen’s Gambit Emmett Impressions and Review – Spoilers after the Jump

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Basic Premise: As a top spy at Destrier, a private security agency, the main character must complete her assignments and protect her team at any cost. (And, if you work really hard, she might get to snog the character who appears in all the lovely stills.)

What Differs from Previous Voltage Entertainment USA Titles

  • = The player no longer receives messages directly to a personal email account. I miss getting content from secondary characters but do not miss having to close the app every chapter to see if a new one had appeared.
  • = Three acts of five chapters each net you more content than previous titles but also cost more at $5.97 total rather than $3.99.
  • + Each character has a unique prolog. It keeps the plot and characters voices consistent.
  • + All four endings unlock upon completing the route, and each ending differs significantly. It’s worth reading them all.
  • + Save slots, a rewind button, and a relationship meter keep the player from having to reread huge batches of text if they make a mistake or miss something.
  • + The sprites have many poses, and the MC’s expressions now appear in her dialog box.
  • + Sound effects and how the text pops onto the screen emphasize the action and mood of a scene well.
  • + As I noted in a previous review, Voltage USA’s gun illustrations up to this point have been terrible. Queen’s Gambit‘s illustrations are a huge improvement.  No sprites hold weapons that I remember – which keeps the description of a particular gun from clashing with the visual – and the few stills that feature guns have them held properly.

Overall I like Emmett better than João, but the main plot is not as strong. Since this comes down to a matter of taste, I’ll give a few general points before digging into more specifics and spoilers after the jump.

I really like Emmett as a character. He’s focused, intelligent, kind, and has a slightly goofy sense of humor. He has issues, but he doesn’t pity himself and has enough perspective to address his problems. He also ties into White Lies & Sweet Nothings (though none of those characters cameo like Speakeasy Tonight‘s Neil does, darn it).

IMG_0745

The two leads may get together as a couple by the end, but for most of the route Emmett and the MC feel and interact like what they are: long-time, close, adult friends. I actually love the slower buildup, hesitation, and having the few little romantic interactions being able to be reasonably brushed off as friendship, but I can see players who expect more mush in their visual novels being frustrated.

The MC mentors Cameron (the team’s rookie) well.

The main plot ties into the MC and Emmett’s history. It starts unraveling towards the end though.

If inaccurate medical details can completely destroy your suspension of disbelief, you may want to skip this story. It reaches Master and Commander levels of unbelievable.

MORE DETAILS, SPOILERS, AND A NSFW STILL AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading

Queen’s Gambit João Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

IMG_0783

Basic Premise: As a top spy at a private security agency the main character must complete her assignments and protect her team at any cost. (And, if you work really hard, she might get to snog the character who appears in all the lovely stills.)

What Differs from Previous Voltage Entertainment USA Titles

  • = The player no longer receives messages directly to a personal email account. I miss getting content from secondary characters but do not miss having to close the app every chapter to see if a new one had appeared.
  • = Three acts of five chapters each net you more content than previous titles but also cost more at $5.97 total rather than $3.99.
  • +Each character has a unique prolog. It keeps the plot and characters voices consistent.
  • + All four endings unlock upon completing the route, and each ending differs significantly. It’s worth reading them all.
  • + Save slots, a rewind button, and a relationship meter keep the player from having to reread huge batches of text if they make a mistake or miss something.
  • + The sprites have many poses, and the MC’s expressions now appear in her dialog box.
  • + Sound effects and how the text pops onto the screen emphasize the action and mood of a scene well.
  • + As I noted in a previous review, Voltage USA’s gun illustrations up to this point have been terrible.  Queen’s Gambit‘s illustrations are a huge improvement.  No sprites hold weapons that I remember – which keeps the description of a particular gun from clashing with the visual – and the few stills that feature guns have them held properly.

IMG_0784

On the MC: I really like this one. She has a definite history and motivations which weave nicely both into the plot and into her attraction to João. She’s fairly intelligent, competent, and has a nice balance of idealism and skepticism. Now, if I could just add a dash of snark, she’d be perfect.

On João Morais, the LI: He’s…kind of a Disney princess, actually. He’s pretty. He cares about family. He needs to be rescued a few times. He cares about the environment. He tries to befriend almost everyone. His naivete is both cute and potentially obnoxious. He’s kept from cloying preciousness by the heroine’s inner commentary, different sides of the political and environmental issues having a bit of nuance, his willingness to work, and his character evolution late in the story.  I still laughed like mad when this popped up though:

IMG_0723Don’t worry, Emmett.  Your route’s next on the list.

On the Romance: I really like that the MC takes a while to switch from a professional attitude to a “crud I really like this guy” attitude. The relationship is built slowly on values and goals the two truly share. Compared to other Voltage USA titles, the story has fewer romantic moments, but I don’t see where more would have fit in the narrative.

On the Main Plot: The spy plot never felt copy-pasted and stayed away from one-liners. As long as you don’t squint too hard at the Client’s motivations (or why top spies do not use burner cell phones) you’ll be fine.

On “Stop Using Your Fictional Characters to Lecture Me Please”: I’ll admit I was apprehensive during the first few chapters of this route. I don’t enjoy seeing one stance on a political or social issue portrayed as THE CORRECT THING AND EVERYONE ELSE MUST BE COMPLETE IDIOTS even if I agree with it. Fortunately, the writer gives both characters representing the issues some flaws, some shading, and no one person or position has a perfect solution at the end of the route.

On the Tone: I was surprised and pleased at how ambiguous the world is. While I respect the two main leads and some of the secondary characters, many of their actions gave me pause. João researches ways to improve the environment, yes, but chooses to do so in an area outside any countries’ jurisdiction in a manner that could potentially be as damaging as the problems he’s trying to correct. The MC lies and kills for an organization that she trusts helps others, but we never get a proper explanation or proof that they are not, in fact, doing terrible things to good people. Read the nightmare ending at least once. My jaw was on the table. I now want to read every route just to see what the nightmare ending is for each one.

On Secondary Characters: This is a fun bunch. My favorite is Cassidy, the MC’s younger sister, but Cameron, the team’s rookie, is close behind her.

IMG_0721I see it’s time to take him into the study and have a heart-to-heart.

Bottom Line: Recommended. While João himself is not my cup of tea, puzzling out the main plot and learning about the MC’s relationships with the secondary characters kept me intrigued. More Cassidy and Tom please!

Voltage Entertainment USA’s Queen’s Gambit is available on iOS and Android.