[Linked Image]

There is some intriguing stuff inside this visual novel, but for me it holds out the promise of being more than it ends up delivering. It might seem a bit unfair to make that observation after only about 90 minutes of playtime, but it isn't something I intend to keep going with so feel free to take what I say with a big grain of salt.

You 'play' Ran Ibuki, who we first encounter trapped in what I thought for a moment might be a coffin but turned out to be a tad more mundane, but even once 'free' she remains stuck. In a school no less, with no way out and a small number of other students who are involved in a game of murdering and resurrecting each other on a regular basis. Why seems immaterial; the lottery to determine who kills who this time around just is what it is. Needless to say, Ran gets involved, and the first corpse found is that of her missing girlfriend from four years ago. Could things be any more strange?

Well, yes, because through her notebook Ran has the ability to 'backtrack,' in essence travel back in time and revisit certain points, observing different things and perhaps doing things differently herself. Collect all the relevant info and the victim can be brought back. Until next time perhaps.

If that wasn't enough, Ran has her own issues, which you can find out for yourself, and the novel gives you the capacity to accumulate points towards three character traits, each of which can influence how your narrative might progress. You can also spend points to temporarily increase a trait should you want to e.g., ask a particular question.

Those things provided the intriguing-ness I mentioned up-front, although I was a little unconvinced by the character traits (accepting that only with another playthrough or some 'backtracking' and different choices could I really tell). A more fundamental let-down was the way the murder was solved. Based on the narrative I anticipated that I would need to make some deductions, and that failing would have consequences, but in reality, I pretty much just watched as things unfolded. When I did participate, I was asked to choose what was and wasn't important, but a wrong choice simply resulted in a comment along the lines of 'that's not important' and the detail was then deleted from my list. My deduction it seemed was irrelevant.

Which fed back into a general feeling of business (the notebook constantly updated, speech bubbles indicating other conversations going on, etc.) that while potentially interesting (there is a lot going on in the notebook, you can read back over all the logs) felt of little real consequence if ignored.

Which again I confess might be doing things a disservice (do you ignore footnotes when you read a book?) but suggested more in terms of my engagement than ultimately went on.

The other thing that needs mentioning is the translation. It's jangly, not at all natural, and seems like it could have been done by AI. Regardless, in something that is really a novel the writing, including its construction and delivery, are key elements of the impact it has. That there is no spoken word adds to what is at times an awkward reading experience.

It's easy to interact with (I liked that my mouse wheel advanced the written word). I wished it had grabbed me more.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you tomatoes, make Bloody Marys.