Thursday, September 3, 2015

Circus Reviews - Because We’re Here ~ Mohnblume und Blauerose (Demo)

This is a review of an incomplete game, and thus the final product may differ greatly from what I describe.
While this review was done per request from the developer, I am not taking review requests at this time.

I didn't ever expect to get people requesting that I'd review games, since I'm really not a game reviewer, at least not foremost. I mostly review games so that I'm producing some kind of content, because the development stage of a visual novel is a long process and I don't always a lot of in-progress stuff to show. Also, I like to write and I like to recommend things. But this review was requested of me by the developer, and I'm nothing if not sporting, so let's have a look.

Because We're Here (is a shorter title than the full one and thus what I'll be referring to the game as) follows Elfriede Rauss in an alternate version of the first World War. Elfriede wakes up alone and confused in a bunker, and proceeds to wander outside straight into battle. After the beginning, Elfriede begins to tell the backstory of the war, and how she got there.

I tend to talk characters first when reviewing a game, but here I am forced to talk about something else because it was the first thing that jumped out at me, and not in a good way. During the narration, as you click through, the GUI will randomly disappear and reappear. I assume it's meant to invoke the protagonist's confusion, but it really hampers the immersion. I felt like I was constantly being pulled out of the story.

The story itself is intriguing, if familiar, and as it went along, I found myself more interested in knowing where things were going. Most of the gameplay is straight visual novel, but there's also a sort of battle system involving Wit Points, wherein you attempt to defuse awkward situations through your dialogue choices. It's an interesting gameplay tidbit, and I'd like to see it used more.

For the most part, none of the characters really jump out at me with the exception of Elfriede herself. She seems to be a bit more opinionated than would be expected of a woman in her time, which is always refreshing, and I like her a lot as a narrator. Although for some reason, her sprite in the GUI grows lighter when she's talking to herself and darker when she's talking out loud, and I can't discern why that bothers me. There is also another character later on, a young man who hasn't enlisted in the war and is met with contempt by pretty much everyone, and I liked seeing him as well; I'm interested in seeing where his storyline goes.

Overall, I can't rank my experience with this demo as bad, just...average. Potential exists, but there's a lot of room for improvement. But that's the point of a demo, and I feel like I can't judge things as harshly as I would a full game, since there will more than likely be changes to the final product.

Will I be playing the full game? Haven't decided yet, but very possibly. At the least, I hope to see the developers improve on what they have, and I think they have the potential to put out a wonderful game.

Because We're Here is not completed at time of writing, but you can download the demo here.

Final verdict: Because We're Here has some design and artistic flaws that get in the way of enjoyment, but shows potential with an engaging protagonist and an interesting story.

Because We're Here is developed by Studio Elfriede. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was asked to do this review by the developer. I was not compensated in any way for this review.

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