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A jam submission

Dead MailView game page

A visual novel about the afterlife, made for Talkative Server Jam
Submitted by shantaram, Kylan, Kuang-Yu — 1 hour, 18 minutes before the deadline
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Dead Mail's itch.io page

Results

CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Theme adherence#24.5004.500
Engagement#53.1673.167
Creativity#63.1673.167
Overall#63.1673.167
Game design#71.8331.833

Ranked from 6 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

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Comments

Submitted(+1)

Hey, finally got around to playing your game, folks!

I'm not a visual story kinda guy, just saying! So i don't really know tropes of the genre.

First off, the music and the art were great! The menu and UI are pretty good, i don't know if it's a premade engine or something you made yourself, anyways it's just overall good presentation.

As for the story, i wasn't very engaged by it, but to be honest romance stuff is not my thing to begin with! The choices felt a bit arbitrary as they mostly consisted of "say X or say X in a harsher, objecting way" though you'd eventually end up doing X anyways. Though i do believe the interactivity element was well  used when signing off the letter when the different background came up! i think that was a good touch. Also i am a fan of big choices that leave an open ending, so that was cool too!

Overall, not my thing, but quite nice. Keep it up folks!

Submitted(+2)

What a touching story. The music was fitting and the character portraits were rough looking but worked well within the aesthetism.

Was the demon and the shrink sprite the same for a certain reason or simply because of lack of resources? Oh, the theory crafting just waiting to happen *o*
A bit disappointed by the lack of importance in the choices, but overall I really appreciated it ^^

Developer

Hi! Thank you for playing our game, I am glad you enjoyed it. We made the story the best we could in a short amount of time with our talented writer. We left a lot of things open ended for you to think about (including the same portraits for the shrink and the demon which may or may of not been a shortcut haha). A lot of people have mentioned the lack of meaningful choices, and I agree all the way. Thank you for your feedback!

Submitted(+2)

Nice work!  I stuck along for the ride in the story, and felt sort of guilty when i decided to move on at the end.  I'm a sucker for a story so it was intriguing when the letters stopped, and i'm dying (pun intended) to know why!

From a design perspective, I agree with the feedback you've already received - arbitrary choices aren't very compelling.

In terms of layout, I at first found it somewhat confusing that the shrink and also the demon (Ignaeus?) were facing away from the main characters.  I haven't played any other visual novels, but shouldn't the characters in a conversation be facing towards each other (at least for the most part)?

Additionally, the passage of time happened at the same speed as clicking through the conversations.  I think the pacing would benefit greatly if the click to pass time had some form of procession - like a slow fade to black and a gentle shift in the music.

I think if you take heed of the criticisms you've received so far and don't give up, you'll make a really enjoyable visual novel!

Developer(+2)

Thank you for your review. I agree with all the criticism that we have recieved. It is nice to here you enjoyed the story, and it is interesting to hear your choice at the end! The story is left open ended to let your mind wonder and question what happened; each of our team members have our favorite theory. I also thought it was a little confusing that the characters are not always facing each other, so thats certainly a point I agree with. I also agree with your comment about pacing, but sadly we could not figure out in time how to add pauses. Thank you for playing and for a kind review!

Jam Judge(+1)

I want to start off by saying that I'm not a fan of visual novels. By which I mean it's an unknown genre to me, not that I necessarily dislike it.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't enjoy this game. It all comes down to the fact that the single piece of gameplay, making choices, didn't seem to have any consequence. I'm not going to critique the lack of gameplay, because I get that it's more of a visual novel than a game and that this appeals to certain people. But if you offer the player choice it should at the very least give the illusion of having consequence. Given that most of the time the options were very similar, if not identical, I lost interest knowing that I was just along for the ride.

Now, I also want to say that I really liked the music, the story has potential, and with a bit of polish the art can work really well. I do hope that fans of the genre play and give their take on your submission, because you could have something good if you address the main problem. Keep it up!

Developer(+1)

Hi, thank you for playing our game. The lack of consequences for a story is a common criticism of our game, and I could not agree more that it is something that is needed to make it more enjoyable.  As you know, time was limited. If we were to redo this game jam, the choices would certainly be prioritized. I am glad you liked the music, I made it myself in less than 12 hours :)  Your feedback is really valuable; thank you for your fair comments.

Jam Judge(+2)

Yeah, I know how valuable feedback is. So I try to be as honest as possible, which sometimes can come off the wrong way. I'm glad that you're using the jam as a learning experience :)

Submitted(+1)

I am sorry, but I didn't like that game

First of all, I'm not a fan of visual novels, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

The choices, in an interactive story, must give the player the illusion of having choice. But not there, you have nearly always two similar choices.

"No, that can't be kids !"    or    "Pffft, kids ? No !"

Second of all, the beginning of the story is not really believable to me. The character first don't want to write to his dead lover, but the next scene after he said that, he's changed his mind and we don't even know why.

Last, I didn't really know what to feel while reading this. Sometimes it is really serious and grave, the guy lost his gf and he has to see a psychiatrist to get over with it. We have a really dark tone.
And then in the purgatory the demon seem... Cartoonish. In its way of talking, saying "Errr old sterotypes amiright' which makes it yeah, comical.


That begin said, the whole art, the dark/white thing is great. The fact that the demon and the psychiatrist have the same sprite is interesting. And music really fits well.

But yeah, I didn't get into the story which is for me a big regret for a game based on story.

Hope you didn't find my review too harsh, but again, this is only my point of view, I'm not a big fan of visual novels in the first place ^^'

Developer(+2)

Yes i agree with your criticism, If we were to do it again, we would prioritise different aspects. As you know the game jam is tough in terms of time, but we gave it a good shot. Thank you for your fair review.

Developer(+1)

Hi, I'm the writer on the game. I completely agree with your criticisms, and the questions you raise (about the choices, and about the purgatory silliness.) I had plans for proper multiple endings but we ended up not having the time to add them in, since there were some glitches with the web version of ren'py and the finishing touches on the game, along with some textbox margins and other stuff.

About the stuff in purgatory... I guess I was trying to keep the mood lightened, so that we would have bursts of drama peppered by a little comedy, but it apparently ended up detracting from the theme instead of adding to it and making a richer product. I also wanted to illustrate the differences in character between James and Violet, because I wanted Violet to be the lighter half of the relationship, the more happy-go-lucky side whereas James was the moody brooder. Guess it didn't turn out that way.

Anyway, thank you so much for playing and giving your feedback! This was my first visual novel and my second game overall, and I've learned a lot of valuable stuff! <3

Submitted

Again, take what I said with a grain of salt, it's how I perceived things but I could be the only one

Host(+2)

Very touching and well written story. The aesthetics of the game is really neat and pretty. Music accompanies the game well.

Small points for improvement : the font is sometimes difficult to read, and it would have been interesting to be able to make real choices.

Anyway, well done, it was really a very pleasant experience !

Developer(+1)

Thank you for playing our game. I agree with your criticism 100%.
It would of been really cool to have more impactful choices, and we planned on adding them,  but sadly we did not have enough time.