My experience with this game can be pretty aptly summed up as “pleasantly surprised”. The game’s official description implies it to be a tedious 2edgy4me thing about how God is evil and high school students need to use the power of SATAN to beat him!!! What I actually found was a surprisingly well-done story about mental illness and self-actualization. The tone of the overall plot is still extremely tongue-in-cheek, but when real issues come up it addresses them with astounding sensitivity and depth. The characters initially appear to be one-dimensional archetypes, but they are eventually revealed to come from places of deep pain and trauma, and their loyalty to one another is truly genuine and inspiring.
My main criticism is simply that it doesn’t seem to have the interest in delving as deeply into the heavy stuff as it perhaps could. It seems pretty clear to me that, despite a clear and genuine interest in portraying these sensitive issues, the game wanted to be a wacky bizarro fantasy romp first and foremost, and that permeates everything. This results in pretty extreme tone whiplash — the game can oscillate wildly between nonsensical comedy, serious psychological drama, and campy horror all within the span of a few scenes. Unfortunately, I feel like the serious stuff suffers more for this. The camp is baked into the engine from the ground up, as even the battle messages are silly things like “[Enemy] bites the dust!” for knockouts, and that makes a lot of the more serious battles extremely jarring. The ultimate result is that I felt very emotionally confused throughout this — it’s never unclear how you’re supposed to feel in any given scene, but I was jerked around so often and so suddenly that it started to lose impact, especially in the late game. The dev was clearly going for a genre mashup, but I think they overdid it.
Overall I get the impression that this was made by a talented but amateur author. It really screams “first project” — all the author’s ideas got crammed in without considering how best to tie them together. Thematically, it’s honestly kind of a mess — I think it would have made a lot more sense if the game had stuck to the high school theme and made the bullies into more major characters instead of transitioning into a generic high fantasy conflict with a pretty boring villain.
And the art is… not great. The dev didn’t seem to bother with shading for, like, anything. This isn’t too much of a problem for battler sprites, but the game occasionally tries to do handdrawn cutscenes, and they’re a mess. No lighting or shading means everything blends together, and it’s quite hard to tell what you’re supposed to focus on.
The gameplay works, I suppose? There are random encounters, which I hate, but battles tend to go quick and you level up fast. There is also some awkwardness where you learn new skills by level up, yet many bosses are puzzle bosses that depend on you knowing a specific skill. If you’re even slightly underleveled, you’ll run into a brick wall without understanding why. It probably would have been better if the game used an FFVII-like skill system that ensured you got skills when they were needed. (This is particularly a problem with Eyor’s solo battles, as she doesn’t get good offense skills until a pretty high level… as I only discovered some time after whittling down her boss fights with crappy low-level attacks.) At the proper level, though, bosses were a fun level of challenging, and you get quite a lot of skills to play with.
Overall, I’d recommend trying it out yourself, and try to stick with it past the campy opening act. (But trigger warnings for bullying, child abuse, bulimia, and suicide.) The developer is currently working on a sequel, so check that out too!