Sunday, January 12, 2014

GRINNING HEART; THE VOYAGE

This is a simple short Comedy Kinetic Novel about a human-dragon and a lost traveller.
It's about how the dragon reads traveller's mind and trick her No, I won't make it like the previous one. It's about the dragon and the traveller lost in each other minds.
The story begins with a dragon who lost in a cursed woods over hundred years. He wants to get out from there and come back to his tribe so badly.
And Suddenly, a traveller with unexpected circumstance, come to his life.
The traveller true self was a famous handsome-man hunter, person who go around the world to take handsome-man's photographs. And she was also lost in there.
The traveller was trying to get his picture, and the dragon was trying to eat her, while both of them hiding their true identity for each other...
[Description from LemmaSoft forums]

Developers(s): Ngareci
Rating: All Ages

~*~Click Here To Download~*~

{I, the reviewer, give Grinning Heart: The Voyage, 8 out of 10!)

COMMENTS

After a bit of a long wait, it's finally here!! Another segment in the Grinning Heart series! You may remember "The Meeting" but if not, have no fear! For this installment, "The Voyage", serves as a prequel! So you can play this without any prior knowledge of the first one, but I highly recommend you give it a chance!

This story is about a hungry dragon, trapped in a cursed woods, who prays for meat. Ironically, that's when our heroine runs passed him! And she just so happens to be looking for another handsome specimen. What a fateful meeting this is! Both of them conceal their identities, with bogus ways to get what they want, which end up conflicting with each other. Both of them have a plan of trapping the other in the same way for their purpose. Heheh, well, how does that end up, then?

I had a fun time reading this. The backgrounds were very beautiful, the sprites were clean and gorgeous. You can tell Chro is younger here than in "The Meeting", and being a prequel, that makes a lot of sense. Another plus over the first installment is for one, it's LONGER! In fact, it appears to be almost twice as long as "The Meeting" with a slightly more engaging story. Also, instead of the default Ren'Py textbox, it uses a custom textbox, making it feel more professional. A surprise for me was the fact that Ngareci used one of my voice clips from my free voice packs somewhere in the beginning, so that was kinda cool. There's also a lot more cute chibi CGs! They are made to look animated as you click, giving the story more of "you're watching it" like an anime, instead of "you're reading it".

Downsides? This one seemed to have just a bit more grammer problems than the previous installment. It's not bad in which it is really hard to understand, but a few sentences here and there feel pretty awkward. This caused some parts of the story to not deliver as well as how "The Meeting" delivered, but overall it's a more enjoyable story. Also some of the auto-forwarding between texts in some places I would accidently skip over, so I had to rollback quite a few times. And *SPOILER START*(I really wished Chro got together with Narl, they just seem so cute together, he even seemed to want to be her companion even! Why you turn him down, Chro?!)*SPOILER END*

Overall, a fun little prequel. I have to say Chro has become one of my favorite story characters and I hope to see more of her handsome-man-hunting adventures in the future!


RECOMMENDED?
YES! It's cute and fun, and no need to play the original to understand (in fact, playing this first is probably an even better idea since this happened before anyway).

PLAYER'S COMFORT


[MUSIC]:
The music was nice for this kind of story, one song when they were camping and telling about themselves was particular very pretty.

[ARTWORK]:
Really good! The art is a lot smoother than the first Grinning Heart, more to a commercial standard.Also, the animated-like chibi CGs were adorable, giving this VN more fun moments than "The Meeting".


[INTERACTION]:
This is a Kinetic novel, so there is no interaction.


[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
Nothing really, just some OMGs.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
Well, the dragon dude is shirtless, and our herone likes taking pictures of handsome men, but that's it. Nothing perverted.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
Other than comedic violence, and the fact the dragon wishe to eat her, none.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
At the beginning, the dragon prays to God that if He exists, to drop him some meat (and that's when you see our heroine make an entrance). Both the dragon and our heroine say "Dear God, you must of sent him/her from Heaven!" (him thinking about meat, her thinking about handsome man hunting).

Saturday, January 11, 2014

MEMENTO VIVERE: PROLOGUE

November 1
Caucasian male, late thirties, was admitted to ER with high fever after returning from vacation in Madagascar. Pain in joints, sweating, and delirium all point to malaria. Have ordered a round of treatment with quinine and artesunate. Patient is too ill to release; will keep for at least two days.

November 2
Patient initially suspected to have malaria has worsened. Anti-viral treatments have not lowered his fever. Initial diagnosis of malaria may be in error; now suspect ebola. Delirium has worsened. Bleeding from orifices and severe jaundice also present. Hourly ice baths have done little to help bring fever down; coagulants have not stemmed bleeding. Attempts to contact next of kin have not met with success.

November 3
Patient suspected to have ebola has died. Initial autopsy did not detect any known
tropical viruses in the patient's blood. Currently waiting on additional tests.

November 4
God help us all.

[Description from LemmaSoft forums]

Developers(s): Last Rail Productions
Rating: (Not Rated)

~*~Click Here To Download~*~

{I, the reviewer, give Memento Vivere: Prologue, 8 out of 10!)

COMMENTS

Memento Vivere ("Remember to Live") is a zombie apocalypse visual novel, and this prologue serves as an introduction to all the characters involved in the story. Some characters get more spotlight than others, such as three stories only being focused on once, another being seen twice, and then the obvious main story which we go back and fourth to the most (which I believe are to be the main characters of the full version). This story starts at the beginning of the outbreak in a place called Denton. There are a total of five stories present.

While the initial description of the visual novel makes it sound very horrific, this Prologue focuses more on the characters feelings and inner suffering about the start of the outbreak. Only one story in particular is actually described violently, with actual encounters of the zombies. However, it's written out so well to hold your attention and giving you the sense that something is very wrong and will only get worse in time. I feel the sense of fear, putting myself in that situation if an outbreak were to occur and how to deal with the days to come - that's how I would describe this. Unlike a lot of zombie stories, I can tell this is very character-driven, which adds a good depth to the zombie apocalypse genre. Of course, I expect to see more zombie encounters hopefully in the future. If you're a fan of zombies, you might be a bit disappointed with the lack of zombie encounters, but remember this is a prologue to introduce you to the characters and it is the start of the outbreak.

What I also like is the characters don't seem completely stupid, like what is typically seen in anything in the horror genre. Characters seem to know when to stay inside, seem to know when to venture out and kill some zombies, etc.! I can't say anyone is a genius, but they aren't complete idiots either. They have sense to think and usually have a good reason behind their actions, I like that. That really impressed me. Also, the music is perfect, it has sound effects where it should, and THE ART IS GORGEOUS!

Do I have any complaints? Of course. For one, one of the stories was really, really vague and almost confuse (Jun's story). All we know is she keeps herself locked inside, but we don't know or understand why. Then again, it could of been written that way as a reveal for the finished product. Also, some parts which I feel should have had CGs, or even just a sprite, do not have any and relies on written narrative for your imagination. While I understand having some of that (and I don't mind it too much at all), there were some parts I think would have felt more enhanced with actually seeing an image. But my biggest complaint of all is NO FULL SCREEN MODE. For me, this ruins the experience if I cannot fill my computer's screen with a visual novel. It reminds me that I am just playing a game, so it is harder for me to immerse myself into the world. Luckily the resolution was large enough to cover most of my screen, but still. So hopefully in future releases, there will be a full screen option.

So while it lacks in actual zombie encounter action, I can see potential for a rich, fleshed-out stories with interesting characters in a zombie-infested town. It's done well for what it is, and sets up the fear of a disease that turns you into zombies and how you're going to soldier it out. Many zombie stories (mainly movies) seem to lack the richness and character developement it could have, and I think Last Rail is trying to give something more in the genre. I hope they finish it, because I admittedly kinda like zombie-apocalypses, and while it seems so typical and overdone, to me it never gets old especially when done right, so I have high hopes for this. Even if it never gets finished, this prologue stands pretty good on its own, though vague in some places. It's not like it ends at some intense part that demands a sequel, they picked a perfect spot for it to end so it can stand on its own if all else fails, but I really hope to see more of this. Plus it's gonna be free, so I am excited!

RECOMMENDED?
Sure! If you like zombie-apocalypses, but would like to see more character-developement, I think you'd like this.

I certify this *VISUAL NOVEL NEWCOMER WORTHY* since zombie-apocalype is a genre we're all familiar with.


PLAYER'S COMFORT


[MUSIC]:
Very befitting for the atmosphere of the game. While there aren't any tracks particular memorable, it's a nice soundtrack all the same.


[ARTWORK]:
GORGEOUS! I love the colors, the smudged backgrounds, it all works well for the atmosphere. The CGs are very pretty especially. There aren't too many sprites, but what's there is pretty good.


[INTERACTION]:
It is a Kinetic Novel, so there is no itneraction.


[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
There are a few instances of the "f" word but thankfully not too overdone. Also God's name taken in vain a few times.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
I don't remember any.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
While actual violence is not seen visually, there are some descriptions that are pretty violent; descriptions of bleeding, flesh being torn, enough to give you a pretty clear picture but not going too far in descriptiveness.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
In Elizabeth's story; she is a nun, there is a priest and a deacon, and their church is being used as a shelter. Nothing in this story seemed to be against God, and Elizabeth is a pretty kind-hearted nun who convinces the priest to allow more people into the church to shelter. The deacon can seem a bit questionable though, then again his character seems a bit of on purpose.