rionaleonhart: harry potter: extremely poorly-drawn dumbledore fleeing and yelling NOOOOOOOOO. (NOOOOOOOOO)
Riona ([personal profile] rionaleonhart) wrote2017-04-05 01:46 pm

It Takes A Child To Raze A Village.

[personal profile] batman: I've been playing Higurashi: When They Cry! It's about teenagers descending into paranoia and murdering each other and - where are you going?
Steam: Please confirm your purchase.

Higurashi is a game I became vaguely aware of some time ago. I thought 'huh, that sounds potentially interesting, maybe I should check it out' and Googled it and was instantly put off by the character art. But, fortunately for my shallow side (and the worrying side of me that can never resist a story about paranoid, murderous teenagers), there's now an official Steam release where the art has been redrawn!

Maybe 'game' isn't the right word; there doesn't seem to be any actual gameplay. It's a visual novel without narrative choices. (It calls itself a 'sound novel', but there are still graphics and visual novels still have sound, so I have no idea what the difference between a sound novel and a visual novel is.) I'm going to call it a game anyway, for convenience's sake.

I was expecting Higurashi to take a moment to introduce the characters and then jump straight into the horrible things, much like Dangan Ronpa, which wastes no time in going 'here's the cast, here's the horrible situation you're in, here's the horrible thing you'll have to do if you want to get out of it.' But three hours passed, and nothing horrible had happened yet; I'd just been watching Keiichi play silly games with his friends. And at some point, I suddenly realised, I'd shifted from impatient 'when are the murders going to start happening?' to 'oh, no, this is cute, I don't actually want everyone to be miserable.'

Too bad. Four hours in, everything became miserable. I knew exactly what I was signing up for, and yet there was still a part of me going 'MAYBE IT'S FINE, MAYBE IT'S JUST GOING TO BE A CUTE DATING SIM.'

([personal profile] batman pointed out that Keiichi seems to think he's in a dating sim at first, and I immediately felt awful for him. If only!)

I don't know what Keiichi looks like, and for some reason my mental image of him is close to Hajime Hinata of Super Dangan Ronpa 2. I love Hinata, so just that inexplicable mental image automatically doubles my fondness for Keiichi. Enjoy your unearned affection, Keiichi. I'm sure it makes up for all your traumatic experiences.

The Dangan Ronpa series is still the gold standard for visual novels about murderous teenagers, and Higurashi is highly unlikely to seize its crown. If you're looking for a teenage murder mystery on Steam, get Danganronpa instead. (Or there's Danganronpa 1 + 2 Reload, now available for PS4! I swear I don't work for Spike Chunsoft.) But Higurashi is certainly holding my interest. I might make a less vague entry when I've played a little further; right now, things have only just started to go downhill.

(Anonymous) 2017-04-05 02:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Higurashi! I know a lot about Higurashi and I know the plot, but, like you, the character has always put me off. (Though I believe that's part of the staple and part of why it gets so horror-y; the contrast with the cutesy art and circumstances to WHOOPS THIS IS FUCKED UP NOW.) Will enjoy any posts I see you making about it. :)

What's always put me off the steam releases is that Higurashi runs into arcs and they seem to sell them separately (and when I was looking at buying them they only had the first two chapters), although I believe they're fairly long too. I could be mistaken on that, though, it's just what I figured from the steam listings.

I have also been playing a visual novel on Steam recently which also involves teenagers (though not exclusively), murder, a ton of mysteries and shenanigans. It's called Root Double: Before Crime, After Days. It's a bit like Zero Escape without the puzzle rooms during √After in particular (√Before has a deliberately very different feel to it, and then √Current and √Double are again quite different beasts). You'd love it. (It seems to have no fandom and no fanfiction, which is just unacceptable!) It's really obscure and I've nobody to discuss it with but if you're into visual novels now you should look into it. You just missed a sale on it, but it's worth the full price: it's pretty long particularly if you plan to 100% it (I clocked 64 hours for 100% completion). (There's currently a Something Awful LP of it ongoing, too. I played it and read updates I'd just finished as I went along so I wasn't spoiled and it was lots of fun.) It does some really interesting things with character perspectives, and I enjoyed the characters a lot.

Here is the main Root Double trailer so I can at least share some love:

Main trailer -

Awesome, right? :D

There are other trailers, but they're between routes and would be spoilery, so can't show you them ("PREVIEW - CONTINUATION OF ROOT DOUBLE").

Oh, I've seen the opening for the Higurashi anime which has some creepy music - that's what made me look at Higurashi actually ("uh, what the hell is this creepy shit?"). Might be interesting to see? I'm not sure if it has spoilers though, since anime openings can be quite spoilery. So I'll not link unless you want.


(Anonymous) 2017-04-05 03:02 pm (UTC)(link)
CHAPTERS OF CHAPTERS. WHOO! And that's good that they're reasonably long. I guess you recommend picking them up? I may need to find something else to sink my time into since I may, er, have got a bit obsessed with Root Double (look at the hours in the past two weeks listing for Root Double):

Mind you, Root Double also divides it's Roots (er, Routes, er, √s :P) into chapters, though I suppose that's slightly less confusing because at least the main things aren't actually called chapters.

At least it's not just me who ignores spoiler cuts. ("I REGRET NOTHING!!!")

Higurashi opening: In fairness, most Japanese openings of things sort of vaguely spoil things at most, but only become really spoilery when somebody goes "OH NO, LOOK AT THAT SHOT AT 10 SECONDS. END GAME SPOILERS!!!" when you're like "but I just thought that was pretty?" And I really don't know if there are spoilers in this one. (Don't read the comments, obviously. There are spoilers in those.)

The Something Awful LP is a screenshot LP. It doesn't have a huge audience, but they're pretty nice so it's safe - and fun! - to read the few comments between updates (and the speculation comments have gone down since a bunch of them have caved and bought the game to find out what's going on faster xD). It updates very regularly, too, and it's in the "chapter" Root Double (though not very far into it).

I suggest just reading the thread itself, but if you really want to just read the updates for whatever reason, make sure you start on the Root After stuff (been folded into a single link now, as have Root Before and Root Current) rather than the first link of the Root Double section since you'll be massively, massively spoiled, lol. There really aren't that many comments between updates though due to not too many commenters and fast updates.
marginaliana: Buddy the dog carries Bobo the toy (Default)

[personal profile] marginaliana 2017-04-05 03:07 pm (UTC)(link)
I had never heard of a visual novel - after some perfunctory googling, I have to admit I am still a bit confused. If you don't mind explaining to a complete novice, what is the advantage of having it in a game format as opposed to just, like, a video? Given that there are no actual choices to be made. Is it because it evolved from games with narrative choices and so the format is a holdover from that?

(Anonymous) 2017-04-05 03:23 pm (UTC)(link)
The vast majority of visual novels do have choices, I think - though I'm not a massive expert on this area. Typically they have different endings (a lot of them are dating sim-like) and your choices will lead you down a route. So it's a lot of dialogue and narration, but with visuals and sounds to accompany it, but you steer the story with choices or some sort of system. It may not always be a straight forward choice system. To use the example of Root Double I was talking about above, that uses the "Senses Sympathy System" (setting levels of trust etc for characters) rather than straight choices and that steers onto different routes, but it's still fundamentally a mechanic that lets you lead your game that you couldn't really do rather than it being a TV series or something. (Steins;Gate was a visual novel and while I love the anime, it focuses mainly on one route and just pulls in bits from the others where it can - it's the only way to do that sort of adaption). Plus, some visual novels have other gameplay elements: the Zero Escape series goes between visual novel sections to "escape the room" puzzles for instance.

Don't know if that helps any, but there do tend to be choice mechanics, and plus I think you consume medium slightly differently when it's a game (and you're making input; you're more tied into it emotionally) and when you're watching something because you're not a part of that in the same sort of way. Does that make sense?
marginaliana: Buddy the dog carries Bobo the toy (Default)

[personal profile] marginaliana 2017-04-05 07:38 pm (UTC)(link)
This does help, thank you! It's really interesting to think about different ways of interacting with the story, especially the "Senses Sympathy System" which is not something I would have ever come up with.

And now that I think about it, I tend to play a lot of games that don't really have narrative choices because the focus is on task/puzzle-solving (like hidden object games). So maybe the idea of no choices is not as unusual as it first seemed.
marginaliana: Buddy the dog carries Bobo the toy (Default)

[personal profile] marginaliana 2017-04-05 07:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Good point about the cost issue - I can see how that would make a big impact. And I'm sure you could convey a lot with just a few still images for each character, when you add in the text. Very interesting!

Also: there are some minigames where you SHOOT THROUGH PEOPLE'S MISCONCEPTIONS WITH YOUR BULLETS OF TRUTH - this is amazing!
wolfy_writing: (Default)

[personal profile] wolfy_writing 2017-04-05 05:31 pm (UTC)(link)
I was thinking this sounded very you. "They're sweet and adorable and everything that happens to them will be horrific!"
wolfy_writing: (Default)

[personal profile] wolfy_writing 2017-04-05 06:23 pm (UTC)(link)
I just bought comics on "Well, I generally dislike comics by this writer, but he has one that's all about psychologically destroying a character I've just gotten into? GIMME!" grounds.
alwaysbeenasmiler: (Hanyuu/Rika♥You know no one dies)

[personal profile] alwaysbeenasmiler 2017-04-07 04:21 pm (UTC)(link)
I have only watched the anime-- but I've heard much about the visual novels-- but I remember thinking "Oh these characters are adorable" and it descending to "Oh my gosh, this fucking sucks"-- really the thing with Higurashi though is the sheer hopelessness of the overreaching plot--

I swear--

alwaysbeenasmiler: (Rena☆Here we come now)

[personal profile] alwaysbeenasmiler 2017-04-07 05:41 pm (UTC)(link)
That is cute indeed!