Alright, that's pretty soon!
I'm looking forward to it! :)
This is the first time I've played a VN without any character art whatsoever. At first I thought "ugh, this is just too cheap", but in essence, even with background art and music being there, it works more like reading a book. As in, your mind will simply create the characters or their looks for you in your head while reading. I'm surprised that the lack of portraits didn't bother me too much in the end. It still just kinda works.
Also, I do like the girls, they're pretty interesting.
Haven't played all routes yet, but I think it's safe to say: Not so bad after all. :)
Ah, and this is also the first VN ever which I found to be available as an .apk file for Android. Also tested it briefly on my Blackberry KeyOne using Android 8.1, and yep, it works fine! :)
So this was your first VN after all? Hm, I've heard your name before though... but now I'm not sure in which context, if it wasn't visual novels. Anyway, for your first VN, this was clearly of above-average quality, at least in my opinion. Especially how you build up the atmosphere and the character relations, in such a very relatable way.
I'm looking forward to your coming works, even if it takes you a while to complete them! :)
Ok, I see, I think I understand this a bit better now. About the "desires" thing, that wasn't related to your game world directly. That was just an allegory in regards to a slightly similar (but not identical) concept. Or rather, what I thought to be a similar one.
Anyway, if I were to create a world (as a god), I would probably make it a tabula rasa. So in essence, everyone would truly choose their path, I would not predetermine anything for them. Becoming "good" or "evil" (or rather. something in between) would be a choice of those beings themselves, while influenced by their surroundings - so, much like our world. They wouldn't even have to have ethics, if it's not in their nature. And then I would just watch how that universe evolve without interfering (unless I get bored ;).
Anyway, on a logical level, your comparison between growing up and eating and spiritual growth makes sense (both being absolutely natural in their respective universes). Of course, if one were to artificially stop their growth or stop eating and drinking, or start hurting themselves in our world, we would consider that a mental illness as well. So I get that analogy.
I just never made that connection in my mind while playreading, especially since you depicted the "infected" as rather normal individuals. Ah, and also because Diane seemed to be a rather murderous and mad person to me at a certain point in the game.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to explain this a bit better!
I just finished "A beautiful Ride to Carlisle" a few minutes ago, and it's pretty short. But it is sweet, wholesome Yuri! It has a kind of... mh, how to say this in English... A serene but at the same time cheerful atmosphere. Lovely.
I also like just how the two girls talk to and gently interact with each other, it's pure bliss to read through this little gem of a kinetic novel.
For fans of sweet, warmhearted Yuri, this is basically a no-brainer.
Actually, I'd buy a 2nd part of this anytime! :) Due to the limited length of the VN, it was clear you couldn't go too deep with character development, and yet, even with such little playtime, the two of them are already so interesting! Would love to see more of them!
Hmm, I'm still not sure if I can grasp the nature of that world. So what if I do not want to ascend (and not descend either of course), but just to live my merry life on Earth, because I like physical things (like physical love, food, drink, a warm breeze in spring, etc.), and because I'm happy with what I have? Do I still have to be eliminated then, even if I never chose to harm anyone? You say it's not "black and white" or "good and evil", but the fact that I have to make progress by force (towards Astral and divinity) or be extinguished is pretty binary in itself. There are no other choices? Feels wrong to me. What about freedom?
So if I want to just live peacefully (and physically), I cannot, because some higher being will always murder me, no matter what I do or don't do. That's kinda... I dunno... I don't get it? So I have to become a god first, then create my own (virus-free?) world just so I can go back to square one and get myself a physical body to enjoy my skinship, meat and beer. ;) And this time, nobody will kill me, simply because I'm far too powerful?!
I just don't get this at all.
Is the virus in this now-godless world the key? If so: What *is* that virus? What is its nature? How does it infect people? When Rena and Ria come to Astral, they seemingly came from a very advanced world (she spoke about phones once?). That means humankind can't be just some mindless mob, they're a thriving high-tech civilization pursuing scientific progress, which doesn't have reaching divinity as a goal, even though it might result in such a thing at some point in time...
The whole concept is very hard to understand (and hence accept) for me. Maybe because of my cultural background, I don't know - I'm from Europe, which has a Christian background and I'd call myself a secular pantheist. Maybe I'm wrong, but parts of your concept remind me of Buddhism. Never liked Buddhism either, it eludes my value system. Like Buddhism teaches us to reach "ascension" by ridding ourselves from all desire. To me, ridding myself of desire would mean death. No desire - no fun - no life.
While Astral isn't the same, the ascension to it it has a similar concept of getting rid of a LOT to get there, even very important things. Maybe that's why I don't like it? Hm.
Ah, sorry for my ramblings, I hope this doesn't annoy you. ;)
I just replayed parts of the VN to refresh my memory a bit so I can talk about different routes and characters.
First: !A WARNING! There are some spoilers in this first part of my post.
Second: I want a Mao route. ;) Somehow, for her character (because she is so animal/cat-like), the broken grammar even works in her favor, because it makes her more adorable. Actually, she was the first one I wanted to go for, but sadly, that wasn't possible...
Then, Diane and Honoko. Like most girls from this VN, those two should be discussed together. I liked them, because they had such a firmly intertwined past. That made it easy to imagine the rivalry between the two, which I guess has been going on for quiiite some time. Going for either of them feels a bit like a "childhood friend wins" ending (which I love by the way).
As for our "newcomers" Rena and Ria (sometimes called "Rie"?!), the right word for the two sisters would be "contrast". At first glance, one is warm and kind, the other brutal and cold. Their routes were quite short, but I liked their endings, especially Ria's. I guess I'm a sucker for her type of character, like a Kuudere spiked with a slightly more than healthy dose of jealousy and vengefulness. A character that gives you a strong shell you need to break through to get to the soft core - that's good, some people enjoy this type of person.
And what about our best friends, Iori and Nene? Hmm, to me they were the least interesting, even though Nene was quite fun (what with her teasing our girl and all that).
I guess my favorites would be Diane, Honoko and then on a very close 3rd place, Ria. So yeah, in that order. Although, depending on my mood, I might give that 3rd spot to Rena...
Alright, that covers the girls. Now as for the story... Hm. It didn't sit quite right with me. But for that, I guess I have to say:
!!!MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD!!!
The whole "virus" thing seems strange. Sure, humans are often brutal, but not everything physical is bad, so that's why I call this setup some kind of strange "spiritual elitism". If we take a look at how tremendously brutal both Lumen and Diane were in the past - they basically committed wide-scale mass murder, if not genocide - I can't see them as being any better than the worst regular humans would've been. One scene for instance quite graphically describes how Diane kills a crusader, fantasizing about "torturing him more".
Also, what is that so-called "virus" to begin with? In some parts it feels like the VN is trying to tell us, that "being a human is the virus itself". Because, the few humans shown in the Diane/Honoko route didn't seem infected at all. They seemed like the classic witch hunters we would imagine when thinking about a somewhat more fantastical medieval age, but nothing that seemed fundamentally wrong. Criminals maybe, from the players' point of view, yes. But clearly not more so than the magic wielders who decided to burn them to ash by the thousands (actually: tens of thousands, just to pay for one life that hadn't even been taken at that point!).
The VN goes ways to show us, how hideous and horrible regular human beings are supposed to be in this world, when compared to "pure, spiritual" ones, and that just rubbed me the wrong way, because it appeared to be too extremist for my tastes. This is especially true given the actions that the "more supreme beings" have committed before their ascension to Astral.
In my opinion, such people would probably go to the nine hells and become demons rather than gods. ;)
This went so far, that at some point I felt I should side with the normal humans, against this magic/spiritual supremacy thing, because the magic wielders seemed like the actual threat to life and safety of common people, and they seemed quite hateful too. They didn't even treat humans as intelligent, sane beings but just as things that need to be extinguished...
Astral itself (its system of ascension to godhood, and its division into several parts, the priest caste etc) was kind of well-crafted. I just don't feel right about what happened back on earth and the initial step of ascension based on the information given to me by the VN's storytelling.
Seems weirdly twisted, also the memory erasing thing. If a spiritual world like Astral erases some of my memory permanently, it feels as if it's trying to hide something very important from me. And I don't like that, as I wouldn't wanna lose even my bad memories - because they are a part of me, that shall not be taken from me. And how people just wholeheartedly agreed with the erasure didn't seem credible to me.
So that part of Astral seems a bit fishy in my opinion. If I were there myself, I would'nt want to learn more magic to ascend further, but to dissect and learn about Astral's own inner workings and true purposes first, because it didn't seem all peaches and cream to me. Almost like there are some horrors sleeping below that pretty-looking surface...
Because there was always this feeling... "Something here just isn't right".
Alright, that was a VERY long reply and a major wall of text, mostly full of subjective views and opinions, but I hope this can still help at least a little bit.
PS: I want a Mao route! ;) Mao is cutest! ;)
This turned out to be FAR better than what I thought it could be! Especially the art, writing coming in at a close 2nd. Amazing to see what people can do in such a short time. As a Yuri lover, this VN was more than a welcome gift!
Awesome work, through and through! Thank you!
I too would like to ask: Is development still ongoing? I just completed the demo, and I want more! The Yuri is sweet, and the gameplay is fun! The pixel art is charming as well, and the music fits the game. The character art... Well, there's clearly room for improvement there, but it's passable!
Would be good to hear about an estimated time to release or any see any kind of sign of this project still being alive.
Would pay money for this, if you can make it a decent-length game!
Don't get me wrong, I didn't mean to completely discourage you or anything. I still liked some of the characters and their backstories, which kept me playing, and I think I finished all (!) of the routes after all. So I'm kinda like those people who 100% clear their plate at a restaurant and still complain about the food having been bad. ;)
Still, let me give you just two (of countless) examples when it comes to spelling, and that's Diane. I liked her route, so I found it a bit irritating that her name header - when she is saying something - would suddenly read "Diene" instead of "Diane". That's a bit much, you know?
Or one time Honoko says "I thought you would be more existed for it", when it's about their continuation of magic practice. Clearly, she meant to say something like "I thought you would be more *excited* about it". "exist" as in "to be present in this world" doesn't fit here at all.
See what I mean? And it's literally full of that, you'll get it every few lines. Had to play only for seconds to come up with those two mistakes just now.
However, if you do make another Yuri VN, I'll surely be back on board again, because I wanna see how you'll continue from here on out (and because I simply love Yuri). And I may critize again as well... Not sure if that's encouragement or a threat to you though, haha... ;)
Alright, I bought this today and started playreading it, and.... uh. Well, I'm ususally into all things Yuri, but there is a major problem with this VN: The language. It's in English, but frankly, it's so bad, it really hurts reading it. Grammar, orthography, all pretty bad.
I'm still going to go ahead and play through at least one route, but as harsh as my critizism may be, please do take it to heart; Get a proofreader who speaks native English the next time around. If you can polish the language, the whole experience will become a great deal better than it is now, believe me!
I mean, parts of the art are pretty bad as well (Characters = mspaint.exe?), but hey, it's acceptable for a cheaper Yuri VN. And those hand-drawn backgrounds even do have a real charm of their own, must've been quite a bit of work.
But the narrative, the monologues and dialogues are the soul of a visual novel - you really should get that part right!
My apologies for being so negative, but I do hope that something good can come of my feedback. I do want to see more quality Yuri VNs after all. ;)
I'm one of the backers on KS. ;) I've just tried the demo a little (works well on CentOS 6 Linux btw.), and the visuals are really nice!
There is just one thing I have to criticize though: For the final version, please make sure to get a native English speaker to proof-read the script. There are really lots of spelling and also some grammar issues with the text. As long as you can get that fixed during development, it's really gonna be something to look forward to! :)
Thanks a lot!