This game consumed my life for like three weeks. I’m lucky I didn’t just look up from my DS one day and find Boyfriend had taken the dog and left. BUT IT’S THAT GOOD.
Let’s talk about female characters first, because I think this is where most if not all of my complaints fall.
The game started impressively gender-balanced, with everyone in male-female pairs, which was awesome. But very quickly, the women fall away, and the cast become about important men saving women, and in the case of Kariya and the pink-haired reaper who was such an obnoxious, unimportant character I don’t even remember her name, the strong, reasonable man calming down the hysterical woman.
The fridging of Rhyme was so predictable that I was annoyed the second I saw her, because she just hit every single “female victim” trope out there. The fridging of Shiki was just gross and infuriating. That the writers saw no problem with killing off two pretty strong women to motivate the Men who care about them was disgusting.
In Shiki’s case I was especially disappointed by it because her storyline was a really positive one you don’t get very often– the importance of female friendship and the idea that girls don’t need to be competitors, just themselves. Shiki learning to overcome envy and self-deprecation to love herself as well as her best friend was a really positive thing I wish more media would do instead of pitting women against each other. But the second Shiki grew into a fully-evolved character she was fridged, which is just infuriating and totally not a coincidence. A strong, self-sufficient woman is of no use in modern game culture, so the only way she could be made a valid character once she stopped being fretting and insecure was to die to motivate a man.
I think Rhyme and Beat’s roles should have been switched. Just completely swap their lines and personalities. The strong-willed little sister saving the quiet, patient older brother would be a great trope inversion. And while I really liked Beat– he was probably my favorite character– the fact of the matter is that we just did not need another guy motivated by a little girl’s sacrificial death, no matter how well-done the backstory for it was. It’s just so overdone. Keep the backstory, keep the plot trajectory, and switch the character portraits. Suddenly you have something really original to compliment the good writing.
I do have to say that whoever did Rhyme’s character design deserves a medal.
Also, if you’re an obsessive magpie like me, holy crap. Often I would turn the game on when I got home from work and just grind until it was time for bed, because I wanted ALL THE THINGS. All of the items, all of the pins at max, all of the money. And despite the fact that it was technically grinding, I was never bored.
The levelling system was really cool, original, loved it, etc. It was such a perfect way of integrating optional difficultly into a game. You can play however you want.
The story was original, the world was full and unlike anything I’d encountered before, the characters were relatable, everything was properly foreshadowed without the answers being obvious, and the end of the main storyline just broke my heart. FTR I didn’t cry, though it was close.
The art was great, and the visual style of the noise and the characters was just really cool. I often play games with the sound off, but you really can’t do that for this, as the music, which is wonderful, was such an integral part of the world.
I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything because if you haven’t played this game you really, really should. I also don’t have much to say except SQUEEEEEE, obviously. So go play it! It’s a jRPG unlike anything else out there, and you won’t be sorry except that you’ll wake up weeks later not knowing what happened to your life in the interim, kind of like Skyrim.
Also! Do all of the postgame stuff. The “Another Day” missions are a little much, but 100% completion is really worth it.
I loved this game.