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Eichhirnchen

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A member registered 41 days ago

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It’s been a while since I played Chess of Blades. But since I liked the game a lot and I’m on itch.io now, I‘d like to give my impression (possible spoilers included).

Overall, the game was a great experience. I was hooked since the first time I heard about it, because I’m a sucker for fantasy, romance and aristocratic themes. Moreover, the characters were very handsome and fascinated me at first sight. Initially, I wasn’t sure about the humor part because I usually don’t like comedy that much. But I have to say, it turned out to be very pleasant. It didn’t feel ‘over the top’, as it is often the case in games with comedic themes. And I had the feeling that it fitted very well with the noble setting and the puffed up little peacock boys and girls (as Sabre would say).

I also liked the characters, especially the cold-hearted Linnaeus and the passionate Franz. They were so different in their personality. I remember that one dinner scene when they sat at the table next to Rivian and looked at each other in such a malicious way. I already saw the cutlery flying through the room. : D Of course, Rivian was great as well. He was such a cutie with his unique sense of humor and his social allergy! I couldn’t have wished for a better protagonist. I also liked the supporting characters. Everyone had their own unique personality and was an important part of the story and the world.

The storytelling is very good, too. Each route had a different story to tell, so you didn’t get the feeling of having seen everything after completing one route. That motivated me to play through the game several times. I also liked the many secrets and plot twists. Especially Sabre’s route was a very interesting surprise. It wasn’t what I expected (in more than one way hehe). But I’m very happy how that turned out to be.

The art style is also very beautiful. The characters and backgrounds are carefully designed and a lot prettier than in Requiescence. The protagonist and his three love interests look very detailed and elegant and their appearance fits well with the setting. The same is true for the supporting and antagonistic characters.

But also the background characters are drawn with great care. That’s very important to me, because those minor characters are often involved in the events in one way or another, even if we often don’t know exactly, who of them is talking at a certain moment. Sometimes, you hear some voices whispering, talking, discussing, or cheering in the background, while seeing different faces. That gives me a feeling of immersion.

The only criticism I have is that some CG's were used for multiple scenes without adjusting the background. For example the identical kissing scene with Sabre in the cellar and in Rivian’s room, although Rivian’s room looks totally different.

I’m really thankful that the game has full voice acting! The voices fit so well with the characters they belong to. I must confess, I really fall for Franz. His voice was so deep and sexy, that I still have goosebumps while thinking about it. Only Sabre’s recording could be somewhat better. I sometimes had the feeling that his dubber’s microphone was of lesser quality. But maybe that's just my imagination. Overall, I liked his voice too.

The music is very memorable, cheerful and goes well with the aristocratic theme. I especially liked the opening tune and the melody that was played at the stalls. You really feel like you are part of the festival. As if you would stroll along and buy things yourself.

Another advantage is that the game is more interactive than Requiescence. I prefer to have lots of choices in a visual novel, so that I can feel more like a part of the fictive world around me. I also liked the way how there’s no obvious way to reach the good ending and therefore you could say something wrong and miss it by accident. When I play a game I want to be challenged and to think about what I'm saying to solve a situation satisfactorily. In this regard, I especially liked the courtroom scene in Linnaeus’ route. 

Unfortunately, the bad endings felt more like a ‘game over’ to me. That was a pity, because I think that endings should be designed in such a way that you feel like you've come to an end, even if it's a negative one.

But that’s the only bigger point of criticism I have. I had much fun with the game. Next to story and characters, I especially liked the playing time. I prefer long visual novels (around 100,000 words ore more) because I often feel that shorter games leave to unresolved issues and open questions. Nonetheless, the Story has the potential to be continued. I wouldn’t mind another game, which is playing in this universe. But it can also be considered a completed work. Both things work.

Thanks again to Argent Games for this very good game. I had a lot of fun with it. Keep up the good work! : )

Now that I've finished all routes, I want to give my final impression of the game (SPOILERS included, so beware). All in all, I had a lot of fun with Red Embrace.

What I like best is the diversity of the characters. No one is like the other. Everyone has their own unique personality. I especially liked Luka and Isaac. Thanks again to the developers for the free Luka route! If now Bishop would get his own route, I would be completely satisfied. I like evil characters, so it would be great to have one as a love interest. Especially since we don’t really know how he became the leader of the vampires and what motivates him. 

What’s also good is that even some of the negative endings feel like an end and not like a “game over”. In many games you have the impression that only the good endings count. In Luka’s and Isaak’s route, however, I had the feeling of having come to an end, even if it was a negative one.

I also like the changeable interests and personality of the MC. That motivated me to play through the game several times. The only criticism I have is that the interests should have more impact on the actual story line. They were a nice addition, but not nearly as important as the shapeable personality.

In addition to the changeable personality, I also like the way how some dialog options aren’t unlockable if you pick the ‘wrong’ choices and thus the endings can be influenced in one direction or the other. Some visual novels give me the feeling, that they aren’t really games in which you can make wrong decisions, because it is often clear from the beginning, which answer you must choose to reach the "perfect" ending. I am glad that this is not the case here. As a result, the game feels more like a real game. That’s something I really appreciate!

The music is pleasant, too. The tunes are decent, modern and fit well to the dark, urban setting. I especially liked the music that played when Bishop appeared. It was so threatening and dark and always left me with a bad feeling, as if something unpleasant would happen soon.

I also like the character sprites and the CG’s. The characters look very attractive - not too childish or too “cute”, as it is often the case with other BL games. I also like the mix of anime and western style. The backgrounds could be a bit more detailed, but that doesn’t bother me that much. The overall atmosphere is great and it doesn’t take long for you to feel part of the world.

Since English isn’t my native language, I can’t say much about the quality of the dialogues. However, I had the feeling that they were good. I could always understand everything and didn’t notice any mistakes (except for the one part at the beginning of the game, where Luka was being addressed as a “he”, although the MC thought of him as a woman at that point).

At some points I had the feeling that the game was too short. There are some unanswered questions I have. I also think some parts are a bit illogical. in Dominic’s and Rex's route, the protagonist is thinking of becoming a vampire without a single thought about what it means to drink blood forever and endanger other people's lives. Of all the thoughts he had at that moment, I found it odd that he haven’t had moral issues. It is also a bit weird, that in all those years, no vampire became aware of the protagonist, although he has such a particularly tasty blood.

But I don’t want to over-analyze those things, because, as I said before, the game is a lot of fun! So I can overlook such minor discrepancies. I recommend it to anyone who likes vampires, urban settings and BL games. Argent Games stands for quality and you can tell that for this game too. Unfortunately there are only few English written BL games in the western part of the world. So I’m very happy Argent Games exist. I’m really looking forward to their future projects.

Please keep up the good work! : )