This time I’ll review 2 games by Team Berial, Momiji wa Akaku Sono Mi o Somete that was first released in 2010 and Dear my Abyss that was released just last month
Momiji tells the story of Masaki,a seemingly normal high-schooler in every ways. Spending his time with his 2 friends Hiroaki and Shuuya and the girl he is interested in Yuri.
But he also has a terrible secret, 5 years before he caused by accident the death of his childhood friend and crush, Kaede. In pure shock in front of the dead body he could do nothing but recite an incantation written in a strange book he found by chance, a spell that could seemingly resuscitate the death.
Waking up from passing out the body of Kaede disappeared without a trace, the next day her family too vanished. With only the vivid memory of her death in mind, Masaki didn’t felt sadness or guilt over losing his friend but rather fear at being caught as a murderer.
And 5 years later while people starts to disappear again, Kaede reappears in front of Masaki looking exactly the same as 5 years ago, is she the illusion of his deranged mind, or…
The first playthrough of Momiji has no choice and pretty much end with a glorified bad end but it’s pretty good at posing the base of the story and setting, the rest of the game is made of variations of that story shown with different view points.
For example in one route Masaki can stay a bystander up to the end while in another he can be the one driving the events.
The overall crux of the story and events are always the same, but the position of the characters change depending on the route. This structure allow the story to feel pretty complete but on the other end seeing the same events happen 5-6 times get tiring after a while.
I ended up doing the true end at the very end and it was certainly a satisfying route but doing it so late kind of killed it for me so I’d advice people to do it earlier.
The individual routes still try to do some interesting things on their own, one route for example introduce a primitive battle system, a rng-fest but the idea was pretty cool. Momiji has 5 heroines and 12 ends overall including a hidden true end, one heroine in particular only has a bad end that ended up being my favorite part of the game…it’s quite something.
Technically the writing is passable, the greatest strength of the writer is the way he paces scenes, it’s hard to get tired even during the less eventful part early on. The art in general is pretty nice for a doujin game, the game doesn’t have many event CGs but an absolute huge amount of tachi-e with different clothes, different poses and even random male characters with only a few lines appearing on screen. The soundtrack is also quite nice in general.
Momiji is very much about the human condition and how deep someone can go, the monstrous killer loli ends up feeling not very monstrous compared to some of the other characters. The game does things that could only be possible in a doujin game, in one route the “heroine” ends up stealing the protagonist seat away from Masaki for example while he…. and really only one route ends up having a straightforward romance. This is definitely one of the greatest strength of the game and the writer tries to go as deep as he can with them, though in the confine of its overall structure, the fact that the game always follow the same events, the restrains can be felt
Anyways it’s a cool game, I enjoyed the 15 hours or so I passed with it and even though I’d have liked doing it a bit differently, especially playing the true route earlier I didn’t have many problems with it.
Dear my Abyss
Dear my Abyss was released in January 2017 seemingly being development for 7 years, since the release of Momiji basically.
This is the story of 3 friends Subaru, Misuka and Kazumi. Subaru is the outcast, she doesn’t know how to interact with people and isn’t interested in doing so in general, Misuka is the nice girl friendly with everyone who for some reason always try to get along with Subaru and get her out of her shell and Kazumi is the delinquent who roam the city at night, skip classes, smoke “herbs” but is also friend with Misuka and Subaru.
One day Subaru receive a weird book from an anonymous sender, the book has a putrid smell and is sealed. With it a message stating that she should never read it and that it’s impossible to dispose of it, even by burning or cutting it to bits
Rather than being disgusted or afraid Subaru think of it as a good way to pass time and decide to show it off to Misuka and Kazumi. They decide to try burning it off but not before Subaru read a bit of it.
A few days later strange things start to happen, the nice teacher who was Kazumi’s only ally disappear, strange people appear all around town looking for a book and a transfer student immediately take an interest in Subaru
If it wasn’t obvious before Dear my Abyss is pretty much a Call fo Cthulhu fanfiction taking place in the same setting and name dropping almost everyone, the game is composed of 2 parts.
The first part with Misuka as protagonist sees her as a bystander while she watches the situation goes weirder and weirder. She pretty much stays on the sideline up to near the end while the situation evolves beyond her reach. This part of the game is solid as an introduction route that promise more to come.
The second part has Subaru as protagonist, Subaru doesn’t pay much attention to her surrounding and doesn’t care much about whatever may happen around her, she readily accept the supernatural and isn’t really afraid or disgusted by it, mostly because there is nothing she could hate more than herself, there is practically no horror element in this route.
If the abyss in Misuka’s route was external the abyss in Subaru’s route is internal, a large part of the route take place in Subaru’s dream that become her refuge. Disgusted with herself she finds that the only way she could find peace would be to completely cut herself out of the world and other people. The second focus of that route is her relationship with Ruu the transfer student who let’s say isn’t what she looks like at first glance.
Now by the end of Subaru’s route and the credit rolling I thought I was getting the normal end since no third part opened.
Misuka’s route was the introduction that didn’t explain anything, Subaru’s route had a completely different focus and didn’t even try to develop the overall story so surely…
The third girl Kazumi is continuously “shown” to be the one who actually take part of the plot, meet the various monstrosities, fight for her life and eventually save the town. Only glimpse of her story are found in Subaru and Misuka’s routes so obviously the third route would focus on her.
Well no. The ending I thought was just an unsatisfying normal end ended up being the true ending, Kazumi doesn’t have a route.
So what I got was: a route that introduce something that is never developed and another route that focus on something completely different with various success.
Because one of the main problem, beyond the fact that the game introduces a story it never tell, is that the writing just isn’t good.
Momiji’s writing wasn’t great but it flowed well enough and the characters all felt unique, the interactions in general were good.
In Dear my Abyss the characters all speak in the same way and the interactions are robotic, it’s pretty apparent the writer had no idea how to write them. The game has good ideas, I liked what it tried to do in Subaru’s route but there is a big difference between trying and succeeding and I can’t say that her route satisfied me.
In term of production values it’s almost non-existent, Dear my Abyss uses the same type of silhouette tachi-e than Kamaitachi and rarely an actually drawn close up for the 4 main heroines, everything else is free material. Nothing much to say except it’s extremely ghetto.
The game is about 10 hours long, at the end of my first playthrough I thought the game was massive since I was getting my first ending out of 8, little did I know I had just gotten the true end and everything else was just bad end I miraculously managed to avoid.
Basically rather than the fanfiction just go read the real thing, unless you like not getting a story.