Merry Christmas and happy going forth into a new year, E5MO1. :)
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Silverblood is a short demo of a much grander project. Its small length might not provide sufficient insight into the full vision that lies behind it, but it undoubtedly calls attention to what are some of its greatest strengths.
It is impossible to talk about this VN without mentioning the striking aesthetics of the art.
Both its style, what I feel is a retro-disney-esque inspired look quite unorthodox in OELVNs, and the way the art of the scenario and the characters blends together to look more like a ‘whole’ than the typical ‘sprites on a background’ composition we are used to in this type of narrative games.
In fact, if you remove the visual 'game' elements from a frame, an uniformed viewer could be forgiven by assuming they were looking at something other than a VN by judging the art alone. Maybe a point’n’click adventure game, or even a still from a cartoon series being broadcast on a cable channel.
Preference being in the eye of the beholder, liking or disliking the style will come down to subjective preference. But none can deny the care that has been put into it, or the ingineous peculiarities of its sprites.
A few of the characters are only seen from their backs, which is a technique I cannot recall seeing before in a VN. Other characters are not very varied in expression, but made to look archetypal.
One of the matrons beams ‘maternity’ and care, another almost always looks like she has swallowed a bottle of vinegar. While the Head Matron’s design couldn’t be faulted by being compared to certain poses of Buddhist statues, with the contrast between the color of her eyes and her phenotype giving her that extra element of otherworldliness.
This calls to attention (with great effect in my opinion) just how variably expressive the main characters are. The looks on their faces are used as an extra insight to their personalities, and the sheer range of them meant my favorite scene was almost disturbing to watch (in a good sense). During a spat, all masks thrown off, no words spared, you can see all the feelings of anger, resentment and shock emerge in the character’s faces. In other words, when these characters emote, they visually EMOTE.
There is a fair amount of expository material about the fantasy setting conveyed in the demo, but it is not told to the reader via exposition. Rather it’s conveyed in dialogues, the internal thoughts of the MC, and during the ritual scene which lies at the heart of this part of the story. By the end there are a lot of questions the reader will have about both characters and setting, maybe even some mistaken assumptions.
On counterbalance, the setting does come off as a place that is ‘alive’. Despite the demo taking place in a single location there is a feel of a much grander world laying beyond the walls of the witches’ monastery, and the complexity of their place and relationship with it. And this is all conveyed through writing.
What we can see in Silverblood gives clear hints it is (or appears to be) a ‘hero’s journey’ tale in the Campbellian tradition, with a few elements combining to give that premise more originality than the norm among a genre that, since Tolkien, has seen so many by-the-book iterations it has become a cliché.
E.g. The female main cast, the troubled relationship of the ‘party’ even before ‘the quest’ begins, the fact the main character isn’t a fish-out-of-water in these matters that must be drawn from a farm, but has trained for years to do it as a ‘job’, the ‘hero’s’ let’s-just-get-this-over-with attitude which foreshadows the ‘temptation to renounce the quest’ part of the Heroic Myth Cycle… am I channeling too much Campbell into this? :)
On the technical front the criticisms that can be made about Silverblood are all about the game’s interface and its lack of setting options. It is grating, but it can be excused seeing as this is a demo for a one-month Game Jam.
I did think its short length was a bit detrimental, as my interest in Silverblood only turned into true excitement about what is coming down the line after being privileged with some inside information.
But that, of course, will vary with each reader. Others surely will be hooked, line and sinker, even before finishing the demo.
In conclusion: Anyone who enjoys visual novels and fantasy tales can do no wrong by keeping an eye on this project. And doubly so if they are interested about what fairly unique OELVN takes on the genre will deliver.
Perfection: Paper-Thin is unorthodox, to say the least.
An OELVN true-and-true that, while deriving inspiration from JVNs in things like sprite design, sound design, the relevance of music and the use of certain graphical effects, is also attempting to carve a niche of its own in more ways than one.
The contrast between the character art and the background art creates a weird atmosphere that, agree with the art direction or not, I don't think most will forget so soon. The character sprites are great, with a variety of detail, poses and expressions that are put to use for good effect.
The ‘paper sprites’ (you will know then when you see them) are downright bizarre, but fit the narrative and at one point are used for an impactful scene in a way I don’t think the use of ‘‘normal sprites’ could.
The music is very nice, with a couple of themes I really enjoyed. The loops play in the background seminglessly helping set the tones of mystery, urgency, or imminent danger.
The game has point’n’click sections, which is something I am not really a fan of. But they are quite original in their implementation and you can clearly see what the Devs were going for with them. They help with getting to know the protagonist, and peeking inside her mind, rather than just being a ‘game-y' entertainment feature.
One of the biggest 'selling points’ of P-PT is the voice-acting. The game has full VA except for the protagonist, and the voice actor of character ‘Artur’ clearly steals the show with the combination of his witty, sarcastic lines and the British accent they’re delivered in.
The story is a small episode set in a modern expanded universe inspired by Lovecraftian horror, but the execution made it feel more like a tale that one could expect to find in edgier versions of something like the older versions of ‘Dr. Who’, ‘Twilight Zone’ or ‘The Outer Limits’.
There are very few VNs who delve into the genre of Horror/Suspense/Modern Magicks tale that P-PT does, and even less (perhaps none, as far as I know) who do it in the way this VN does.
If you are interested in the genre, and like adorable bastards with suave British voices you know you should not be liking, give it a try.
It is not Perfect, but neither is it Paper-Thin.
The most enjoyable horror VN/Point'n'Click hybrid game I have played since the second installment in the legendary 'Corpse Party' series.
Quite impressive it was made by two people during the space of one month.
The feature that makes interactable elements in a scene be highlithed is a godsend. One the reasons I shy away from most point'n'click games is I lack the patient to click-search for things. This feature should be standard in most games of the genre, IMHO.
Lily is a joy to look at.. Her character sprite, animations, poses and blinking eyes really make her come alive. Her dialogue truly feels like you are talking with a cute, bright, but very scared young girl who hasn't had the best hand dealt to her by the cards of life
If you don't feel like attempting to help her...... you have no soul!
On the less postive end of things, I did not like the addition of the two extra endings. One of them feels way off tone from the rest of the game and I don't agree that words and 'feeling bad about it' are sufficient to achieve redemption. The other reverses the original game situation, in a manner that combines with the previous new one to lead the VN into the realm of moral backrupcy.
It also feels a bit lazy to introduce supernatural elements at the very end of what was, until then, a non-fantastical slasher/survival/horror tale.
I would have prefered variant 'real' endings depending on the choices the MC makes during the game.
In the first unavoiable ending, right until the last moment I had assumed something different from what turned out happened in that scene was taking place (I can't talk about it in detail here as I don't want to throw spoilers).
Apart from that, 'Hush Little Lily' was a joy to play through I do hope ChaniMK delves back into the horror/slasher/gore genre sometime in the future. I have not played any of their Yaoi/BL titles yet (shame on me as someone who like the genre, I know), but maybe combining the two genres could an option? In a hybrid game or straight-up VN (hint, hint, nudge, nudge).
Very enjoyable. I got ending 3, precisely the one I desired to happen, glad the game had it. I ended up loving the demon character, which I think is a 'demon' only in name and appearance.
I liked the quasi-retro design of the characters, Was the demon design inspired by the 'Vrock' from D&D? I like the pallete and sharpness of the sprites, but I think the demon should have a bigger eye design so its eye-shifting anymation is more noticeable.
I felt echoes of your previous work 'I'll Come See You' on this one.
The music selection is great. A few more sound effects here and there would improve the reading experience. No flaws to point out in the backgrounds/CGs. It would be great if the whole novel could have been done with drawn backgrounds.
I'm looking foward to see more VNs from Cryoslight. I have nothing but respect for a fellow Dev who does things solo, including the art.
And a shout out for having individual versions of the game for both Win, Mac, and Linux. That is the way to do it, IMHO.
The best game Nemlei has put out so far. Cutesy stuff + Cthulhu Mythos inspired eldritch abominations.
The 'Void' is a joy to look at. The music by Beemyu is great.
I got the happy ending on my first run and I can't play it anymore, because I don't want to see anything bad happening to the characters >_< .
When I finished playing the demo, it struck me,
the ‘Bryson Award’ is the stand in for ‘Briseis’, the war captive that gets taken from Achilles by Agamemnon, causing him to ‘go on strike’ in the war against Troy. Nice wordplay there!
I hope to see more of this game. Ace kind of scares me a bit, he is like a loose cannon who isn’t shooting around just because of Pat. :)
I enjoyed the character designs (you can't go wrong with guys with purple-dark nail polish). Leo’s dark eyeshadow is awesome!
The number of CGs for such a short VN is quite impressive. As was the painting's detail on the museum background picture.
But there is one thing I didn’t get. Why are the naked sprites censored with so much pixelation, when the CGs aren’t censored at all and let you see everything in its full glory?
The character sprites are quite dynamic in poses, but I feel they could use a transition changing between them, rather than being automatic. The character names above the textbox are sometimes hard to read against the background.
That aside, it was quite an enjoyable read. I am not familiar at all with the webcomic that spawned these characters but I could still understand the story and liked it.
First 'Postmortem' I ever read. I have to remember to do one of my own for my project. Very insightful getting into the mind of the developer and the process of making the game.
And you don't play games with the sound on?! What the heck??!
You're making a mockery of all our hard work in sound editing amd music selection. >_< XD
This is a fun little kinetic novel. The word puns had me laughing out loud more than once, and I really enjoyed some of the narrator’s lines.
Recommended for everyone who wishes to read a short, sweet story.
This VN was rather more depressing than I expected at first, but I don’t mean that in the wrong way.
The character sprite is lovely, and the voice-acting really adds to the enjoyment. It’s great the creator managed to find a voice actor for such a short project.
I am using your Que sprite on a short kinetic novel I am doing for Yaoi Jam 2021. I would like to talk to you about the possibility of having a drawing of him for a cg at the end of the novel (even lineart would be fine). Do you have an -email account or Discord username I could reach you at?
This was quite nice. I really liked the secondary character's sprite. The dialogue sounds realistic, with stuttering and hesitating as would be expected in the situation the story depicts.
I can’t comment on other things I liked too, because I don’t want to spoil it for those yet to read it.
This is a surprisingly well-achieved VN from the technical standpoint. A cut above the average for short works, and hard to believe it was made with the limitations of ‘only one type of asset’ given the visual effects and visual queues used. The black-and-white palette enhances the story, and the piano music adds to the bittersweet tone.
Story-wise, this short narrative doesn’t feel like one, but rather as a prologue to something bigger. By the time it was over I wanted to know more details about the two character’s previous relationship and past.
And, not related with the novel itself, but kudos to the author for the devlog where technical explanations of the effects used in the work are given. It is always nice to have more skilled folks sharing their expertise with us less experienced ones.