Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Feb 272023
 

As we approach the end of Celebrating All Things Romantic 2023, we actually have a game to discuss that isn’t a visual novel!

Knight Bewitched is a turn-based RPG that follows Ruth, a knight who has defeated many monsters in the kingdom and is next tasked with killing a witch.

But when the witch, Gwen, turned out to be a good-natured alchemist who saves her life, Ruth refuses to kill her. This decision makes her an enemy of the kingdom, who believe her to be bewitched.

The stakes quickly rise higher as an ancient enemy returns, but amidst all the world-saving, the growing relationship between Ruth and Gwen is an important part of the story.

As an RPG, Knight Bewitched plays like a classic turn-based JRPG (albeit one that lets you save anywhere) and has a strong focus on applying debuffs and status effects. I found myself paying more attention to that than in most JRPGs. Combat is fun and can be challenging at times, and the game rewards exploration with a handful of side quests, some optional bosses, and a number of secret areas to find. Dungeons are maze-like enough that eventually I got tired and no longer cared to find all the items, but that’s the only thing I disliked about the gameplay.

The story is fine, with nothing too unpredictable. A few character moments felt rushed, but overall it works well enough for such a short RPG – around 10 hours, a little more or less depending on how much optional content you do.

Although the main story is wrapped up, it ends with a sequel tease. There is a sequel called Knight Bewitched 2, as well as a few other games set in the same series. I have Knight Bewitched 2, so I’ll probably play that eventually, and then we’ll see about the others.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a short turn-based RPG with a love story at its heart, Knight Bewitched is worth a look.

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Feb 242023
 

Today I’d like to talk about eden*.

With the subtitle “They were only two, on the planet” and a description of “the planet’s final love story,” it shouldn’t surprise you that this visual novel has a bit of a melancholy tone at times.

Set in a world where an approaching red star heralds the end of all life on Earth, eden* follows a soldier sent to guard the genetically modified superhuman girl called Sion, who has spent the past 100 years working on a plan to evacuate all of humanity and save them from the world’s destruction.

The importance of this plan means Sion has never gotten to see the outside world, and that is her sole wish.

Despite the bleak premise of the story, eden* actually has a bit of humor, especially early on. It also has some action in the early parts of the story, but its core is a slow-burn romance with slice-of-life scenes to build up the growing relationship between the characters.

It is a kinetic novel, without any choices. All you have to do is follow the story.

There is something bittersweet about its story, a story that can’t escape the shadow of the end, yet pushes a message of love and hope. The excellent art and music help build everything up.

Now, there’s also a version you can get with 18+ content, or 18+ DLC to add that content to the Steam game, but I didn’t play it. According to the reviews, it adds some blood/violence and nudity to certain parts of the main story, but the sex scenes are separate side stories rather than being integrated into the main visual novel. So you can decide if that sounds like something you want to pick up or not.

eden* is certainly not one to read if you’re looking for a lighthearted, feelgood story, but if you want a soft, melancholy romance told at the end of the world, then I definitely recommend it.

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Feb 222023
 

Today let’s talk about Synergia, a visual novel described as a yuri thriller, with the tagline “At the end of the world, sometimes love is the ultimate crime.”

It’s set in a cyberpunk world and follow Cila, a woman whose job mainly involves dealing with hostile android situations.

Her life begins to change when she replaces her own android with a new android called Mara who is so advanced, she seems almost human, while at the same time a mysterious hacker starts trying to contact Cila.

At key points in the story, you have choices to make, which put you on track for one of two endings. While I say endings, they actually branch off a decent amount of time before the end and are pretty different from one another. Once you complete both endings, you unlock an epilogue that sheds further light on the story.

Synergia has a lot of detail to its world, enhanced by optional logs you can read at certain points, although there are parts I wish had been fleshed out further and big moments that feel anticlimactic. It’s a short visual novel, which is probably why the pacing feels a bit rushed.

So what about the romance? I actually hesitated over whether or not to include it as part of this romance celebration. Cila and Mara’s relationship is important, but not as much as you might expect from its tagline. Cila’s feelings for Mara mainly contribute to her changing views about androids and the decisions she makes, but the actual romantic aspect felt lacking to me.

(This is the second cyberpunk human-AI romance visual novel I thought to cover this month, but the first one had so little romance that I decided not to cover it. At least here, the romance is present.)

Despite my criticism of the romance and some rushed parts of the story, Synergia is an interesting visual novel to consider if you want a dystopian cyberpunk story in a rapidly changing world.

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