This post will be about one free game only, CyberRebeat -The Fifth Domain of Warfare-
You can get it there: https://freegame-mugen.jp/adventure/game_3628.html
CyberRebeat is a doujin game developed by the group E.N.Nach, it was originally released during the comiket and later distributed for free.
First to talk about the most unpleasant part of the game and be done with it, the game was developed in Unity, now it seems like there are some way to turn Unity into a pleasant VN development environment but in this case the game system of CyberRebeat was simply one of the worst I have experienced.
The most glaring part for me was how dark the text was, it’s just not pleasant to read, adding to that the only was to advance the text is by using the mouse which is simply tiring. The backlog is one of the worst I have ever seen and basically unusable, loading the game sometime make the music disappear and the game took more than 30% of my memory usage on average.
The lack of CG viewer at the end is also pretty disappointing but that’s probably the least glaring fault of the system, overall pretty poor choice to develop a VN on.
Now for the story:
Eternal freeter Hiro just lost one of his job after the shady pizzeria he was employed by disappeared overnight, luckily for him he still has 2 jobs, as a free writer for a small publishing company and as employee in a underground net cafe full of weird individuals that also double as his living place.
As a writer he was requested to do some research on a legendary hacker who appeared a few years prior to the game making waves across the world before disappearing suddenly 2 years ago.
The name of that hacker: Warlock One day after receiving a classified police report directly from his editor, Hiro learns that an fire ravaged his publishing company and either killed or put in a coma his co-workers.
This is how the fight against Warlock begins.
Now for a presentation of the cast:
Misa, hacker killer and coke (the cola kind) addict, she live in the net cafe and only get out of her booth to refill her coke. The main heroine, probably.
Kana, she used to work at the same pizzeria as Hiro and followed him to the net cafe. The moe element of the game.
Sara, Hiro’s fake childhood friend
Kyoko, the owner of the net cafe who does nothing but drink booze and laze around
Lily, she doesn’t live in the net cafe but often hang around there, hobby includes hitting on cute girls
Now the cast is actually much larger but since the game moves around a lot saying anything more would be full of spoiler. The net cafe itself has some pretty interesting characters who unfortunately don’t have a tachi-e despite their frequent appearance.
Anyways, where the game really shines for me is the quality of the text. CyberRebeat is composed of 3 arcs that are all interconnected but largely different from each other. The first part as described above has a very urban feeling that reminded me of Oretsuba and more particularly Shuusuke’s character. As mentioned above the net cafe itself has a pretty interesting cast of recurring characters even outside the main, including for example a cosplayer NEET, a MMO addict or a host. And the writer really managed to make that part both fun and interesting. Hiro the protagonist himself is quite something and his interactions with the cast is always the promise of good fun, the first half of the first arc is largely composed of jokes but the writer still managed to introduce a serious cast and setting despite that which is no mean feat.
All in all the first arc is very reminiscent of Shuusuke’s chapter in Oretsuba as stated above and believe me it’s an incredible compliment for me.
Without spoiling the second arc is where the actual story is introduced and the third arc is the big conclusion, both of these are far more serious in tone but are by no mean inferior in term of quality of the text or content, if anything I was impressed by his versatility. And since both these arcs focus a lot on hacker world in general you obviously get a lot of extremely specialized jargon and while the writer introduced some of the most important concepts quickly to make it accessible there is no actual infodump. Anyone with a bit of knowledge will probably not get lost and the writer is pretty good at increasing the tension and creating exciting scenario so even people not versed in this world will still be entertained just by following the momentum.
Using specialized knowledge in an interesting fashion is the mark of the good writer and in this case the writer definitely show good promise.
Now the game itself is far from being perfect and definitely suffer from being a ghetto doujin game.
The overall story is pretty solid and a lot larger than you’d think at first glance focusing on a lot of interesting concepts: the place of internet in our lives, globalization, what countries can do against such a large lawless world, etc… the subtitle of the game is The Fifth Domain of Warfare and this is definitively a war that is shown there.
By the very end I didn’t feel there was any hole except for maybe one character appearance that isn’t fully explained (though you can easily get that from the context), the story itself, the characters motivation, the overall setting, there is just “enough”
But personally I would have preferred more meat and more fluff here and there, while it could have hurt the pacing overall it would also make the game more impactful as a whole. The game itself is about 10 hours on and is by no mean short but the 3 arcs are so packed they could have each been a game of their own. The first arc has an end that is very abrupt for example and the sudden start of the second arc doesn’t leave much time to acclimate yourself, this sort of abrupt switch over happen quite a bit and even the final ending suffer.
Now I wouldn’t call the game rushed or shallow, like stated above there is no hole but I really feel like that with more time it could have gone from a solid entertainment to quite a masterpiece. And of course the production values also hurt the experience, I already mentioned the engine but one thing that annoyed me was the lack of sound effect. Thankfully the OST isn’t bad even though it’s a pretty small one
I’d also like to mention a concept I found really interesting that is a huge part of the second arc: The CTF
CTF is fictional E-sport that consist of hackers contesting against each other, there are several kind of contest going from a pure offense/defense battle where each group have to incapacitate the servers of the other, a more traditional capture the flag where you have to get a certain crypted information from the other group and decrypt it, etc…
This sport is quite important and the writer manages to make the various group of hackers introduced feel unique, I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of this despite the place it takes in the game.
Obviously CyberRebeat is game focused on hacking in a very large way, from the more traditional virus/malware stealing your information to social hacking and even if there are some bits that could be called “magical hacking” it’s all very grounded in reality.
While CyberRebeat could largely be considered a SF story it’s definitely a very very close future one.
Final rating: 8.5/10
Without a doubt the best free doujin VN I read so far, and while it may not be the deepest thing in the world it’s definitely a very entertaining read that introduced me to a writer which show a lot of promise
I will also mention that the writer is currently working on a commercial eroge that will be released in October, here is the link: