Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Feb 192020
 

The Grand Ball is a visual novel set in 1882. You play the oldest son of a noble family that has fallen on hard times, and you accept an invitation to a Grand Ball in the hopes of finding a wealthy match to restore your family’s fortunes.

And… the plot doesn’t really stray much beyond that premise.

The Grand Ball does a good job with its historical setting. Aside from a few comments that hint at the future, it felt pretty grounded in the time period, with characters behaving accordingly.

It wants to make sure you know certain attitudes are historical accurate, too. The game begins with a large, unskippable disclaimer about how it features a historical setting and the characters’ views don’t necessarily represent those of the diverse developers, and one of the bad endings mentions the historical context before repeating the entire disclaimer.

Did they really think we would forget in the time it takes to reach that ending? The entire game is less than two hours long!

Anyway, that’s only a minor thing. The bigger issue with The Grand Ball is that it just lacks depth. It starts out with an interesting premise, since you’ll need to properly navigate social situations at the ball to make a good impression, but that never becomes as complex as it sounds.

There are basically two types of choices: choices that will increase your favor with a particular romantic interest, and choices that can lead to a bad ending or alternate ending.

At one point it looked like the plot was headed in an interesting direction, but it didn’t really.

Click for The Grand Ball spoilers
You catch a prominent person snooping around the desk of woman hosting the ball. If you confront him about it, he shoots you and you get a bad ending. If you offer to work with him, it plays it straight and gives you that as an ending, with no chance to betray him.

If you turn around and leave instead of confronting him, I expected the option to tell the ball’s host that he was there… but instead the game continues as though you never saw him at all.

Then there’s the romance, which basically amounts to having a few conversations with the love interest of your choice and showing you have things in common. It doesn’t even make good use of the premise that you’re there for financial reasons, since it claims you find true love despite each route being too short to have any real romantic build-up.

I liked the idea of The Grand Ball’s historical setting, but ultimately this one just ends up feeling bland.

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  4 Responses to “Celebrating All Things Romantic: The Grand Ball”

  1. I’m kind of interested what it goes into that requires all those disclaimers about historical accuracy… but I can make a few guesses.

    • If you’re curious enough to want to know,

      SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT

      There’s a bad ending where you’re caught in a compromising situation with a gay man, and you’re arrested and imprisoned.

      • …Is there at least an ending where you can not get caught in a compromising situation and actually romance the gay man, or I assume no?

        • Nope, and he doesn’t come across as the greatest person (he isn’t arrested with you, since he claims you tried to force yourself on him, and he’s too important of a person for anyone to openly doubt him), so yeah… between the context of the scene, the semi-lecturing message afterwards about how this was the sad state of things for gay people back then, and then the disclaimer, I don’t know what they were going for.

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