Featuring Aviary Attorney, Asphyxia, and The Royal Trap. All three of these are on Steam, so support the creators!
So, basically, every genre ever should have a bird-themed parody, is what I’ve learned. This game has incredible art, astoundingly clever dialogue, and in the tradition of Hatoful Boyfriend, a surprisingly serious plot. The gameplay, from what I understand, follows the format of the Ace Attorney series, but I can’t imagine that game is this clever is only because I’ve rarely encountered games this clever.
It’s very rare I get fleeced by a plot, and I was completely and utterly tricked by this. I don’t want to say too much more because I want to avoid spoilers, but man oh man I think everyone should play this game.
First of all, this game has probably the most beautiful art I’ve ever seen in a visual novel. It is absolutely breathtaking.
Secondly, I want to attach a massive trigger warning to anyone like me who has a tough time dealing with depictions of depression and suicidal ideation. But! While this game was tough for me to get through, I think it was very worth it. I’ve honestly never encountered a story that so accurately outlined, to me, what it’s like to have depression. The thoughts and behaviors of the protagonist, Sam, were my thoughts and behaviors. Word for word, the things she would say, they were things I thought to myself. The way in which this illness entrenches itself by destroying relationships, the way in which thoughts of suicide manifest via seemingly irrelevant actions, how being lonely makes you desperate which makes you more lonely… this was my experience, to a T.
Worth noting is that the game is one giant literary allusion, which somehow made it even more like my life.
I also have thoughts about the endings.
I think that, from Samantha’s perspective, the one where she and Lily get back together is probably the ‘happy’ ending. But from experience, I think the real Good End is the Roberta ending, where Sam learns to move on from her relationship with the support of a true friend. Sam’s reliance on Lily isn’t healthy, and the ability to let yourself heal and learn that you can heal is so important. I think if you had asked me, when I was Sam, I would have said the Good End was winning over my Lily, but as an adult… it wouldn’t have been, and one day, when Sam is on the other side of her illness, she’ll see that, too.
A note: I hemmed and hawed a bit about putting this game in here because I wasn’t super amazed by the way it handled gender-identity issues, but ultimately decided to give it a boost, as I generally believe that trying to address these kind of issues but floundering is still more positive than negative, and that the game’s positives overall strongly outweighed its negatives. However, I missed some implications of the game — most notably the title — and suggest looking at the comments for further elaboration on the game’s handling of gender before diving in. The original paragraph I wrote here is below:
This is a more traditional VN that’s part adventure, part otome, and hails from the makers of Long Live the Queen. It was an interesting exploration of the kinds of situations that might emerge in a land where heredity was via the mother, not father, and explores questions of sexual identity, gender identity, and what it means to be a strong woman in an aristocratic society. The game features two female-male romance endings, two female-female, and one not-really-romance ending, all with a lot of great trope inversion. I found the protagonist likeable, the love interests enjoyable, and the art very nice in a whimsical, cotton-candy way. If you like otome games and are looking for one that trends a bit outside the norms of the genre, this is a good choice.