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Hello! I've been following this game's development for a while, and I finally got to play the demo today. Overall, you guys did an amazing job with such a small team and it really is a quality visual novel!

I do have some feedback, which you're by no means obligated to respond to. I would love to see this game improve and grow so these are just my personal feelings based on when I played through the demo:

1. As many have said, the UI and backgrounds are brilliant! I really loved the vibrant colors in the game; it really fleshed out the world. The art was already pretty nice, but I'll be even more excited when the character portraits get redrawn. One thing about the UI, the home screen icons on the top did confuse me at first because they were cut off  (until you hover over them) and I had thought there was a bug with my screen resolution.

2. I also very much liked the article writing minigame! It's a good way for players to read a large amount of text that can summarize important events of the day so that they don't get lost in the plot later on.

3. Personally, I think the biggest weak point to the game is currently the writing. Visual novels rely heavily on well-written text to make up for the lack of gameplay. While Zodiac Axis has an interesting premise and colorful cast of characters, I feel like the writing was incredibly... fluffy. There was a lot of repetition and redundant sentences (if you need examples, I can happily provide).

I couldn't get a strong grasp of Alison's character other than she's "normal" but also judges a lot of other characters based on their "normality". I'm not sure if it was on purpose or not, but the fixation on "normal/ordinary" feels odd to me, especially because being "normal" is not a choice. People can choose to be complacent to their situation or apathetic to change, but normality is a state. The demo dialogue (through Alison) constantly rates characters on some sort of normal scale, which ends up rubbing me a bit in the wrong way kind of as like "how much of a special snowflake are you?" Yes, the characters that belong to the Zodiac have special powers, but most people who go into playing this game would expect that. Stating the obvious might make the writing feel condescending. There are other ways to create tension in writing rather than rewording the same type of foreshadowing after every character introduction in an edgy tone.

It might also help to write in more subtext. Having characters say lines without needing to explain what they (or what Alison thought) meant would make the dialogue feel a lot more natural. It also gives the players more room to make their own deductions and engage with the text. 

I'm by no means an expert on video games or visual novels, so you can take my comment with a grain of salt. I really only wrote this because I wanted to support this game with feedback! Anyways, the demo was ultimately still a fun play, and I look forward to the full release!

Hey! Thanks for the feedback! I understand that my writing style didn't appeal to you. It's heavily inspired by spoken word and poetic prose, prioritizing the sense of rhythm, rhyme, and color. While this can come across as condescending or repetitive—since it's not as straightforward as direct prose—it's an artsy sort of style that calls back to indie films and Japanese cinematography, which the atmosphere of the visual novel is built on (hence the use of cinematic cuts, dictionary definitions, and other subtextual imagery). The writing can definitely be polarizing, but keeping its style is something that I feel strongly about, since it's the foundation of the game's vision. I understand if it wasn't your cup of tea, and I certainly don't expect it to be everyone's!

As for Alison's fixation on normality, there's actually a specific reason that ties into the themes of the visual novel—though it won't surface until much later. 

Regarding subtext, while the visuals are meant to be artistic and subtextual, the actual dialogue is meant to be clear and easy to understand. There's copious amounts of foreshadowing and lampshading, but in the end, Alison is a straightforward protagonist who doesn't engage in subtext. Even when the Zodiacs ask her questions with hidden meanings, she tends to miss it and answers it literally. This does carry the risk of overexplaining, so we made the choice made after thinking of our target market. A lot of subtext is lost in the lack of body language / vocal tone in a visual novel, so as a result, the dialogue needs to be more literal. 

Thanks again for your honest thoughts and for playing the demo!

— Luna Chai