I imagine not many people know this title and Twitter isn’t actually the best place to review things so I decided to create a blog, it will probably be full of typos and weird phrasing but bear with me.
I’ll try not to post too many spoilers but I probably won’t be able to avoid some, those who want a completely fresh experience should stop reading now
西暦2236年 (2236 A.D.) is a doujin game released by Chloro (http://chloro.webcrow.jp/2236/top.html) during C87 and later in 2015 in DLsite and DMM, it was preceded by 西暦2236年の秘書, a small 40 minutes game released one year prior.
Chloro is a group consisting of people who love mathematics, science and learning things in general and it shows, one of their game has as tagline ゲームより勉強が面白い which say a lot.
To talk about things in order, 西暦2236年 is a near future sci-fi story following a young man named Yotsuba during the span of 5 years, from the weird events that happened in his hometown when he was in middle school in 2231 to the everydays meeting with a weird senior in the Experimentation club he belongs to in 2234 and finally him receiving 99 mails with a garbled text in 2236
The first half of the game is mostly comprised of the 2231 period with scenes of 2234 sprinkled around where Yotsuba reminisce on the events that happened 3 years before.
The setting of 西暦2236年 itself is kinda enormous and talking in depth about it would spoil a lot of things so I’ll only talk about the very basic.
In the 21 century an event named Paradigm Lost happened that reseted everything about humanity: history, science, literature, art, everything there is to be was erased.
But there was a saving grace, a woman named Ciri Shion gave to mankind the Akashic Phones, a series of books that contain the sum of the knowledge of humanity prior to the Paradigm Lost, the original of this incredibly huge amount of books can only be found in the Archives, a hidden city. Thank to these books mankind was able to advance without losing too much and from that time Ciri Shion was considered a goddess.
Another aspect of the setting is that humanity have achieved the means to talk telepathically and rely on it to a point where most people never actually speak, by opening or closing a Gate they can communicate with people in from of them by “formatting” words in their mind, by using these telepathic power they can also use the Water, a water current that run around the world and that can be used to communicate even with people from the other side of the world, in the setting it’s also used a gigantic streaming service with commercials, drama and anime channels, etc…
And talking place in the 23 century there is of course some more standard sci-fi stuff that is exemplified by the PASS short for Personal AI Secretary System, a special kind of AI and the Smart Tool, a smart phone computer used as hardware for the PASS and made of special soft fabric that allows it to go from an iphone size to a human size.
There is a lot more to say about the setting, the writer goes to a great length to explain how everything works but for a small view of the whole thing that’s enough for now
Anyways as stated above the mains story 西暦2236年 can basically be composed into 3 phases, 2231, 2234 and 2236
2231 is where the main mystery is presented, Yotsuba as a young boy who live in small town and who can study a bit more than other is at a phase where he feels a bit different compared to his classmates. His life change when he gets to his new class and meet a young girl named Haru Shion who for some reason has her Gate completely closed and therefore can’t communicate telepathically with anyone. The same day a boy named Shiraishi transfer in the class and like Shion his Gate is closed too.
But unlike Shion who is silent and aloof, Shiraishi is active and immediately try to become friend with Yotsuba. Yotsuba of course wants nothing to do with both of them but he still ends up becoming stuck being the caretaker of sort of Shiraishi.
A few days later Yotsuba finds by chance a driver hidden in the snow in from of his house, mysteriously attracted by it he uses his telepathic power on it to find what happened to his previous owner, the vision brings him to a old decrepit hotel and a closed up door, after various stuff using the driver he manages to open the door and find on a divan a young seemingly dead naked girl who looks exactly like Haru Shion.
Obviously freaked out he tries to run away but using his telepathic power he realizes this girl isn’t dead but can communicate with him. Her body is cold like a corpse, she can’t move her body or even open her eyes, she doesn’t remember how or why she is in that room, she doesn’t even show any needs to want to drink or eat and one of the few thing she remember clearly is her name: Haru Shion
The next day at school Shion is still her unable to communicate telepathically as usual, has a home to go to and doesn’t seem to know anything about the hotel, yet the other Haru Shion is still present in that room, the 2 girls obviously exists at the same time.
Yotsuba decides to become closer to school Shion to learn more about the mystery surrounding her and start to meet the other Haru Shion (he decides to call her Haru) everydays and is surprised by their different personality, while Shion is aloof and generally not the most sociable person ever (Yotsuba even begins calling her the queen of sophistry), Haru is a great talker, seem to be genuinely happy whenever she meets him and accept him as he is.
This part of the game is mostly focused on that mystery and the group of characters comprised of Yotsuba, Shion, Haru, Shiraishi, Yotsuba’s PASS Masuko and the various events that happen that year.
2234 takes place solely in a club room, Yotsuba has grown up and his personality has largely become rounder, with his senior Hime who is a genius student his life consist of repeating experiments everyday that go from slipping on a banana to proving the Euler’s formula, etc… and these meetings allow him to look back to the events that happened 3 years prior.
And as for 2236, this is what the entire second half of the game is about and isn’t something I should talk about here
What is the most apparent in 西暦2236年 is the love of the authors for physics in general, I only wrote a glimpse of the setting but believe me it’s nothing, they went as far as to create entire new law of physic and just by seeing the “voice” of the writer you can feel the love for that field of study. I was pretty impressed by the depth they went in in general so someone more versed as me in that field would probably have a blast.
The plotting in general is also really solid, the foreshadowing in the first few chapters is intense and even small tiny things end up being relevant in the long term, the entire thing is extremely well knead together to a point where I can seldom think of more than a few commercial eroge that approach it. To go to the extreme, it’s basically the Saihate no Ima of doujin game in term of knowledge packed and scope of the setting.
But 西暦2236年 isn’t only that, the main theme is communication, what it means to have a heart and ultimately, the definition love. And this is where being a doujin game is a blessing, the writer develops these themes in some pretty unconventional ways.
I read a few hours ago, after finishing the game, that the writer was a huge fan of Evangelion and it shows, really.
The production values are pretty amazing in general, while the art isn’t nothing mindblowing there is a huge amount of assets and videos, there is 3 different endings and each have their own ending song. the game in general is about 10-12 hours long but it’s definitely a very dense experience in most way.
But there is one area where being a doujin game is a disadvantage, the amount of writing experience. The game in general is well paced, the writer has a knack for explaining things about the setting and physic in a very simple and clear way and there are lines here and there that are pretty powerful.
But when it’s time to really focus on Yotsuba’s feeling and struggle, I thought that was where he kind of failed. To speak in vague term it felt like seeing a sniper with every conditions to make a good shot but when it’s time to make a headshot he only gets an arm
A real shame because setting-wise, plot-wise or thematically everything is pretty solid, it had every elements to make a masterpiece but in the end lacked the little push making it an interesting but ultimately flawed doujin game.
BUT this is also definitely the sort of title I could see being really loved by some people, especially those who aren’t too critical about the writing like me, I’ll repeat myself but the setting, plot and overall idea in general of that game are extremely ambitious and go to lengths rarely seen in this media
For one thing I didn’t talk about yet, the game has a prequel named 西暦2236年の秘書 that was released one year before 西暦2236年, well i call it a prequel but it takes place at the same time as the main game and is basically composed of 4 small chapters, 2 takes place in 2236, one in 2231 and one in 2234. Now this game is mostly about Yotsuba’s PASS Masuko being cute forever and only the last part is kind of relevant to the whole thing but Masuko is a great character so it’s worth reading.
Or would be if the price wasn’t that high, being 40 minutes long I honestly think it would have been better as a free game or at least 100 yens or so but oh well, the main game is definitely worth its price though
To finish the opening:
And where you can buy it
First actual review I wrote in a while, I’ll try to do better next time.
I will use this blog to talk about the random VNs, LNs, doujin games and japanese subculture I experience in general and maybe some western thing too if I get in the mood